And here’s to another adventure…

Hello everyone,

So I have the pleasure of announcing that I have the opportunity to go to Uganda this coming up January through my church, The Flood, and the organization Children of the Nations (COTN). You all are near and dear to my heart, so I wanted to share a bit more about the trip and where my heart has been lately. I’ve begun to have the freak-out-wake-up-call that in just, well, 43 days I will be done with my undergraduate education and will be forced into the “real world.” I can’t wait to start my career, but I had the strong urge to do something else before I began this next chapter of my ‘adulthood.’ So one hot Sunday morning in San Diego, I saw the announcement in the Flood pamphlet to go to Uganda, and immediately I felt like this could be something good for me. After testing my patience and waiting a week to pray and talk through this opportunity with family and friends, I finally applied.

The trip was initiated to film and create promotional videos for COTN, and the creative video and photography aspect of the trip really drew me in. In addition to making films, we have the opportunity to stay in the COTN village in Northern Uganda with 60+ kids and create and facilitate a camp for them during the week, as it is their summer break in Uganda. The village we will be staying in was attacked by the LRA in 2007 and left 60+ kids ages ranging from 3-18 without parents. COTN built 6 houses for these 60 kids, and are providing food, shelter, schooling, a means to learn about Jesus and much more for these kids. And I cannot wait to be a part of the COTN movement and share my heart and love with these kids.

I cannot wait to start the first month of my post-college career serving Jesus and learning so much about the ways in which the Lord works, about COTN and Northern Uganda, about these precious kids who have been through so much pain and loss, and about myself and where my passions and joys lie. After I applied, I realized I signed up completely alone, not knowing anyone, and committed to going to a place I’ve never been, experiencing completely different things, and committed to raising $3000 of support money in a short 2 months. But the cool thing is, I have no doubt in my mind that this is where I am supposed to be in January and while my short-lived fears come and go, fear is just an amazing thing that  teaches you more and more about trust and reliance on the Lord. These past few months, God has been teaching me what it is really like to surrender to him daily. It’s terrifying and my life after Uganda is not in the least bit figured out, but I can’t wait to see where God’s going to take me and the ways in which he gets to use my talents and passions for his glory.

I wanted to share this with you all so you could get a better glimpse of my heart and what I am feeling and going through. I wanted to inform you all and ask for prayer support, as I am going to need a lot of it. In addition, if you feel called to support me financially, I would love the help and support, and you can email me ( alysontate464@pointloma.edu ) for more information. I would love all the prayers and support and know that you all have made a impact in my life and have been parts of my story and the reason I am who I am today; and I thank you all.

With love,

Aly

Feria de Abril

Feria de Abril is a week long festival in Sevilla, Spain all about music and Flamenco dancing. Words cannot describe how incredible this week is. It is almost like time traveling to a place with cobble stone roads, horse carriages, and large, fancy dresses. The grounds of Feria are barren throughout the whole year except for the week long festival, but the place lights up with charm and culture every year.


The typical attire is a tight fitted dresses such as these for the ladies. Our host mothers got us in contact with people to rent dresses from, and our dresses were chosen by our favorite Spanish ladies who made us try on multiple dresses as they chatted about which was ‘the one.’

Beginning midday (2pm), people flock to the Feria Grounds in their Flamenco dresses and suits either by foot or by horse carriage for a long day of dancing, eating and drinking. There are over one-thousand ‘casetas’ or tents that host the festivals. Eighty percent of the casetas are privately owned and only people on the list or friends waved in by the hosts are allowed in. These casetas are not just your average tent; most are as large as a few rooms put together complete with a kitchen, bathroom, tables to eat, a bar, and a dance floor. The casetas are intricately decorated and each one is unique. We had the pleasure of getting into a few private casetas courtesy of our host parents and host parents of our friends.

Katelin and I have been taking Flamenco dance classes twice a week all semester along with three other friends here. During Feria, the people dance the ‘Sevillanos’ and the ‘Rumba.’ The ‘Sevillanos’ dance is comprised of 4 parts, each part getting more complicated than the previous. We loved butchering our way through dancing Sevillanos in the casetas, and the locals were kind and helped us along the way and danced with us. Here is a picture of us inside a larger caseta.

The best part about the Feria was the lights at night. All of the lights turned on at 9pm and the grounds turned even more charming and magical than before.

We had the best time at Feria and hope to return one day and try out our Sevillanos dance one last time. Leaving Feria was hard, but we walked along the river seeing the beautiful lights and sights of our home we are sad to leave in a couple weeks.

Goodbye Feria and Goodnight to the most beautiful home I could wish for.

Portimao, Portugal

Sometimes I forget just how central we are here in Europe. A short four hour bus ride took us to the coast of Portugal two weekends ago with our program in Seville. It was a bit chaotic with over 100 college students all piled into one hotel, but so much fun!

First, we stopped at the famous cliffs in Lagos. We hiked down the sides of the cliffs  where we found boats floating along the water and massive rock formations jutting up from the sea. It really was a sight to see!

 

 

 

 

 

Right when we got to our hotel in Portimao, we raced to the beach where breathtaking views awaited us.

On our last day we were surprised with a rain storm but this didn’t stop us from exploring the beaches and the small town of Portimao. We spent plenty of time eating at the cute cafés with amazing views of the ocean. Our meals usually took over two hours due to the relaxed nature of the Portuguese people. They were so friendly and their concept of time was perceived in a much more relaxed manner than it is in the states. Overall, Portugal was wonderful and we were sad to leave so soon.

 

Culture Post: Bull Fighting

Welcome to a real, Spanish bull fight. Before coming to Spain, I thought bull fighting would be a cultural thing from the past, more of something to remember, but the people here love this! My host dad is a bull fighting fanatic and knows all the bull fighters and information. So in honor of Manolo, I will explain to you the bull fight and show you some pictures from our first, and probably last, bull fight. Disclaimer: I will tone it down a bit but it can be brutal and I apologize if the explanations or pictures are too much.

First off, the stadium is absolutely beautiful. The bull fighters this day were not the big name fighters, but the place was still packed! It reminded me of going to the Cardinal baseball games in the spring, except an entirely different concept.

The bull fight begins by the bull entering into the ring where 6 fighters await him. Upon entrance, he is stabbed behind his neck and between his shoulders, where he can see the fabric on the blade from the corner of his eye, which drives him nuts. Then the bull runs between the bull fighters waving fabrics, attempting to wear him out.

Built into the stadium are escape routes for the fighters. They can slip through an opening and hide behind a wall, leaving the bull extremely confused and trying to run into the wall.

After the 6 bull fighters wear him out a bit, 2 of them come at the bull and put two blades behind its neck.

After the bull is weakening, the real bull fighter comes out alone. His job is to wear the bull out more before he finishes the deal. Also, every time the bull chases the red fabric, the blades are twisting and digging deeper into it’s neck weakening it even more.

If I had to sum up bull fighting in one word it would be: masculinity. The bull fighters are ultimately showing they are stronger than the bull and they approach the bull hips thrust forward exposing themselves. After countless minutes of the bull chasing the fighter’s fabric, the fighter sticks in the final blade and waits for the bull to lie down.

If the crowd thinks the bull fighter was spectacular, they wave their hats and the bull fighter receives an ear of the bull. If the crowd believes the bull was brave and put up a good fight, horses come out and drag the bull in a circle around the ring before taking him away.

This experience was different from anything I’ve ever seen, but it was fun to see something so dear to their culture. After the bull fight, I was leaving and stumbled across a piece of street art of a matador, the bull fighter. I took some pictures of the grafiti and exited the stadium and the artist had his studio open and had the stencil he used up, so I got to talk to him about the stencil. It was cool to see even a younger Spaniard embracing in the culture in a completely different way.

-Aly

Germany & Switzerland

Here is our third and final post of our spring break trip to Central Europe: Germany and Switzerland.

So we had an unexpected start to our travels. Spain was having a national strike against labor laws the day we were supposed to leave. Therefore, the flights had been cancelled Tuesday pm and we had to rush and find a new flight. Our cheapest option was to add one more city to the mix, and leave in 8 hours from the moment we bought our ticket. Hence the unexpected trip to Berlin on our way in. We had less than 24 hours there, but spent the hours relaxing by the river.

Our second stop in Germany was later in the trip, when we went to Munich and a day trip to the Neuschwanstein Castle. We loved the Neuschwanstein Castle and discovered some interesting information from our tour inside the castle. It was unique and even had an imitation of a cave inside for the King to listen to music in.

Our lost stops were Geneva and Zurich, Switzerland. The train trip there was about 7 hours of beautiful landscapes. Once we arrived, we were treated the whole weekend by our three friends from Point Loma.

 

They showed us around Geneva and we got to see a lot including Lake Geneva, a petting zoo, parks, Old Town, the rose clock, and John Calvin’s grave.

Next we were off to Zurich to end our twelve day trip through Central Europe. It was a beautiful city with a river running through the middle. This was the coldest part of our trip so we bundled up and explored all we could the little time that we had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As we walked along the river we ran into a Easter carnival and were brought back to the days of our childhood. Zurich being one of the most expensive cities in the world prevented us from going on rides but it was still fun to watch!

Our last day came with a big surprise as we woke up to snow on Easter!

At this point we were ready to go home to our host family and missed the sunshine. Despite the exhaustion that comes along with twelve days of travel we were so happy to be able to experience what we did and that we pulled it off!

Central Europe Round Two: Prague

Today I am continuing our central Europe adventures with Prague. This city was absolutely beautiful. It was rainy and cold, but when I think of Prague that is exactly how I picture it.

The first day we ventured across The Charles Bridge through old town, I could not stop taking pictures of the colorful antique buildings that were stacked alongside each other. My favorite thing I saw was the prominent gothic styles of the castle and the cathedrals. They were so fun to explore and it was well worth all the uphill climbs.


Aly and I became obsessed with their chocolate covered bananas and visited this booth many times throughout our trip!

Lets be real, although we did do a good amount of walking and adventuring, eating took up most of our time. I am beginning to love the long drawn out meals with friends and the deep conversations that accompany them. While we were there we tried a traditional meal of the Czech Republic containing dumplings and sauerkraut. It was very interesting to say the least! We found out after paying that when you say thank you they respond with yes please. Oh the joys of language barriers:)

On our last day we climbed to the top of the clock tower in the central plaza. At the top, an incredible view of the city of Prague awaited us. Nothing on the rest of our trip beat this experience. Overall, Prague was great and is definitely a place I want to come back to someday.


Central Europe Round 1: Austria

We apologize for the delay on the blog posts; Katelin and I have been traveling for the past 12 days for our Spring Break. We had an incredible time but definitely learned the full meaning of weary travelers. Previous to our departure, we bought the EuroRail Pass for 4 countries: Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, and Switzerland. Therefore, we wanted to get our full money’s worth and hit 7 different cities in 12 days. Seven different cities would be one overwhelming blog post, so I’ll begin with Austria.

Vienna was easily one of my favorite cities we visited in Europe. It was packed with beautiful parks and tiny cafes, which are two of our favorite things.

We loved the food and the vibe of Vienna. The people were sweet and we got to have Vietnamese and Mediterranean food, which we both miss so much. Our time in Vienna consisted of wandering between parks and cafes. We found the cafe in the first picture, Kleins, and it was literally a tiny hole in a wall but had the best coffee. Our last morning we went to the Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens and walked to the top of a hill in the gardens and saw a view of the city.

All of the trees were beginning to bloom and it was wonderful to see the first signs of spring. Our favorites were the cherry blossoms trees.

 

After Vienna, we went to Salzburg and spent less than 24 hours roaming the beautiful, quaint town. We wandered through the winding cobble stone streets lined with cafes and shops in Old Town. We also climbed the steep cliff to the Fortress above the city to see a view of the city and enjoyed more spring flowers in gardens in Salzburg. Austria was absolutely beautiful and it will be a definite place I’d love to return to in the future.

Morocco


Our time in Morocco was the most unique traveling experience we have yet to have. We arrived to a large coastal city (Tetuan) after many hours of buses, ferries, and money exchanging. We were greeted with a performance that consisted of African drummers singing, shouting, and dancing with fire.  It was a perfect welcome into the African culture!

On Saturday we woke up at the crack dawn and piled on the bus to Chafchaouen where all the buildings were blue and white. Apparently, the people in this city believe that the blue paint keeps them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Aly and I got our bargaining skills on and roamed the market streets picking up spices and tea for our kitchen in San Diego. We went to lunch at a restaurant called Aladdin, which seemed to come straight out of the Disney movie!

On our last day in Morocco we traveled to Tetuan. We took a walking tour of the city and ran into a snake charmer in the streets. He would make the snake mad and then attempt to kiss it. He was absolutely insane! We ate lunch in Medina and watched a fire dancer as we drank the most incredible tea I have ever had. Below is a picture of our friend from Point Loma (Evan) with all the girls. The Moroccans kept making jokes about how he was lucky to have five wives!


Our last activity of the day was riding camels. The owner of the camels loved to mimic the girls by yelling “Oh my Godddd” the whole time we were riding. He practically picked us up and threw us on the camels and then would begin to tell them to giddy up. I didn’t know camels could giddy up!

After boarding the ferry to return home, Aly and I snuck to the deck of the boat and snapped a picture of the beautiful sunset as we watched Africa fade into the distance. As we made our way back to our seats I became so grateful for the unique cultures we are able to witness and the amazing moments and memories we are making in the process.

El Pisto

El Pisto is by far my favorite dish in Spain and thanks to this recipe, I cannot wait to incorporate it into my recipe book in the States when I return. I’ve never had anything like this and every time Luisa (our senora) makes this dish, we make sure she knows it’s our favorite. The recipe below is how to make the sauce which can be used as an inside or sauce for bread, but my favorite way to have it is with a fried egg on top. Here it is:

Pisto Manchego / El Pisto

Basic ingredients4 ripe tomatos

2 medium sizes onions

2 green peppers

1 red pepper

2 courgettes/zucchini 3 cloves of garlic

olive oil

sugar

salt and pepper

Steps:1. Dip the tomatoes in boiling water to loosen the skin, then peel them and cut them in to small pieces

2. Peel and slice the onions and garlic

3. Clean and slice the peppers and courgettes/zucchini

4. Put the olive oil into a frying pan, and gently fry the garlic and onions for a couple of minutes. Add the peppers and turn up the heat a little. Cook for five minutes, stirring all the time.

5. Add the courgette, stir and cook for five more minutes and then add the tomatoes. Cover the pan, and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes.

6. Add a teaspoon of sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Turn up the heat and stir well. If the pisto has too much liquid, let it boil away but keep stirring so that none of the ingredients stick to the bottom.

7. And if you’re like me, fry an egg and put it on top and enjoy!