Study Abroad Slideshow

Remember when a family member would come home from some exotic location, strap you down to the sofa, and force you to endure a 2-hour unedited slideshow of their entire trip? Well it’s time to relive those memories all over again!

…except that you aren’t being held captive.

…and I chose about 100 photos from a few thousand.

I threw together the best of my photos  and videos across all 5+ months in Europe. I suggest clicking through the link below the embedded video to watch it in fullscreen HD on Vimeo (assuming Flash doesn’t puke all over your computer, which it does even on good systems.)

Study Abroad Granada 2009 from Zeke Weeks on Vimeo.

So there ya go! You can thank me later for embracing technology instead of holding you against your will.

My Adventure in Morocco, Part 1: Fez

I have posted photos of my Morocco trip on my Picasa Web Album – check ’em out!

What an adventure! I’ve crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and set foot upon Moroccan soil. I’ve been plunged into a land of Arabs and Berbers – a country under the power of a monarchy, to boot. I’ve passed through huge marketplaces which have barely changed since mideval ages, and a sprawling modern supermarket like Wal-Mart From Another World. I have ridden Land Rovers and camels across the Sahara, camped in traditional tents, relaxed, drummed and danced with chill desert dwellers.

I’ve walked the dunes and meditated in solitude. (Or was it in communion with all creation?) I’ve explored the desert guided by the light of the full moon. And I’ve had the most amazing group of fun, loving, fun-loving people to share and enjoy the experience with.

I went to Morocco with about 50 students from International Studies Abroad, many coming from other programs in Madrid, Salamanca, Málaga and Santender. Our bus left Granada at 3:30 Sunday morning, a day before Spain’s holy week festivities were to begin. We crossed the Strait of Gibraltar at sunrise and crossed the border at Ceuta, an autonomous Spanish city on the African coast. The border was reminiscent of the Mexico-U.S. border, complete with incessant honking choruses and vans packed full of seemingly useless junk (even though you know a use has been found for all of it).

Upon crossing the border – and scoring one more stamp on my passport- dozens of cameras whipped out and were aimed out the bus windows. North Morocco was nothing like what I had expected – extremely green, like Colorado during April showers. We had lunch at a rest stop, where I had my first experience as a traveler with zero knowledge of the popular languages Arabic, French, and Berber, in that order. While essential travel communication is definitely possible, all of my travel up until this point has been in countries where English or Spanish are widely spoken. Being thrown into a completely different, somewhat non-Western culture is enough of a change of gears as it is, but add total lack of language skills to the mix and you have a pretty intimidating situation on your hands!

We finally arrived to our five-star hotel in the outskirts of Fez, where the king’s palace is located and a huge, ancient Medina contains mideval marketplaces and old stuff abound. Our hotel itself was a different story- European amenities, kind of a retreat from all the new things we explored in the city by day. The next morning, we went to the medina and toured several larger shops, where shopkeepers gave presentations of their goods to the whole group, and many of us would later bargain – “regatear” in Spanish – with multilingual salesmen. The medina really was a blast from the past; narrow walkways with people and load-carrying donkeys, with no motor vehicles to be found. Open-air shops selling fresh veggies and meat from the countryside. Several of us walked past a butcher right as he removed a dead goat’s head and extracted its brain!

Here are a few videos I recorded in Fez:

Street Performers in Fez

Fez Sculptor

Fez Percussionists

…and don’t forget to check out the photos!

Finally 21… Pics and Video from Ronda, Málaga, Birthday

So I’m 21 already.

Sure, it’s a bit less meaningful in a country where the age of majority for everything is eighteen, but still… ¡Hay que celebrarlo! I had a really fun weekend. I went to Ronda and Málaga with my study abroad group. Ronda is an old town founded by Celts and later transformed by Romans, Moors, and finally Catholics. The best part of town is a series of three bridges built by different resident cultures. Ronda was hot and we endured (yet another) multi-hour guided tour of the city. I am starting to prefer time running around less touristy parts of the city with a small handful of friends.

Málaga was great. It’s a beach town on the Costa del Sol of the Mediterranean, so the climate is a bit different from mountainous Granada – more humidity, and palm trees! It was foggy for most of our visit but it finally cleared up an hour or two before our departure – enough to feel like we’d really gone to a beach town. I saw a lot but definitely want to go back later when the weather is more remeniscent of summer.

I snagged a quick video of the cathedral bells at noon in Málaga:

I got back to Granada on the afternoon of my birthday and went out to celebrate with a few friends for a couple of hours before the bars closed (it was a Sunday night, so the typical Spanish epic all-nighter was unfortunately not an option).

As for photos, my WordPress plugin that auto-imports my Picasa album is acting up for some reason, so I have to embed this crappy slideshow. I highly suggest clicking through to the actual album to see higher-quality pics:

21st Birthday in Ronda and Málaga