sunset 9:12Here I am, sitting in the dining room of a small Spanish grandmother, looking at a silver plaque of “La Ultima Cena de Jesus” (The Last Supper) whilst a cool breeze blows across my shoulders. It’s bright out — surprisingly less humid than the past four days — and I can hear the neighbors chatting over the lazy sounds of the occasional car passing by. Concha (who, judging by the many many many depictions of Jesus around here, is Catholic) is in Jerez visiting her sister and has left us her home for the next few weeks. Here. In Cadiz, Spain.

It still doesn’t feel real, honestly, that I’ll be in this city for another two weeks before heading up to Barcelona, then to Brussels. My mediocre Spanish skills, however, are very real. I studied the language until I was 20, but that was four years ago, and it’s disappointing how little of it stuck. But every moment I spend here, with my brother-in-law’s family, I improve. It’s out of necessity, really, since their English skills are worse than my Spanish ones. It’s like everyone says: I understand much more Spanish than I can speak, which results in me understanding entire conversations but being able to add very little. If you didn’t know better, you’d think the only words I know are “sí” and “me gusta.”

I’ve spent two of the past four days at the beach. Or, more accurately, floating in the ocean for as long as I can until the sun sets and I get cold. I’m so used to the frigid waters of Pacific Ocean on the Oregon and Washington coasts, so actually getting in the ocean is such a treat, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna waste it. It tastes sooo salty (fun fact: I got some up my nose and it hurt like hell but suddenly my sinuses were very clear, so there’s an upside to everything) but all that extra salt makes me buoyant, and I’m getting a kick out of watching the sun set over the Atlantic whilst I prop my feet up over the salt water. The sunsets here, y’all. The sunsets.

So much has happened, so here’s a synopsis: eggs, potatoes, smoked paprika, white fish, gelato, humidity, a store called la cucaracha, tinto de verano, mediocre (and shy) Spanish, broken English, beach, sunset, more beach, boats, more sunset, mangoes, more mangoes (fun fact: the mangoes they sell here are almost as good as the ones we bought off the street in India, but I think these come from Brazil), and just a touch of jet lag.

I’d forgotten how exhausting it can be to live in another country for a while, but I think my Spanish is improving daily and I’m honestly enjoying not really knowing what’s going on anyway. This entire world is catching fire (both literally and figuratively) lately, so I’m allowing myself to ignore all of that at least a little bit and just enjoy my time abroad.

And now, I head to the beach once more. ¡Adios!



At the suggestion of a friend (I’m lookin’ at you, Casey) and with the help of UrbanDictionary.com (aka the greatest reference material ever), I have compiled a list of what Baja means to me. So without further ado (this always makes me want to sing Agadoo)…without further agadoo, here is that lovely lovely list:

1. Baja Men – Who let the dogs out, you ask? Baja Men are on the case, like detectives with bad dye-jobs. And weird outfits. Ohhh ’90s, the things we did for you (yippie-yie-oh).

2. Baja Fresh – Best taco place on the planet. Really. Okay, that’s a lie, I’m sure there’s another place (probably in South America) that makes better tacos. But I am a fan, mainly because their name contains the word Baja.

3. BAJA! (Courtesy of UD.com) – A term used to the effect of “booya!” But it is to be pronounced as it is spelled (BAJA!)
I don’t know if I’d trust this definition, seeing as most the definitions there were too gross to put here and some of them seemed like whoever had written them was just MAJORLY stoned.

4. Baja salsa – Baja could totally refer to salsa being tasty and fresh. But then again, this just came out of my brain about six seconds ago, so it could also be complete gibberish.

5. Baha! – When an idea strikes you and you have a stuffy nose, you say, “Baha!” and raise a finger in the air intelligently.

What does baja mean to you?