Home Thoughts From A Broad: Rastros and Roman ruins

Last Sunday, our other resident Virginian Kealani Nanz was busy. First, the rastro, then the Paella World Cup, Roman ruins, picnic in the Turia, Museu Belles Artes and finally sushi…

On Sunday, I dressed in my mom’s old blue skirt with sailboats from her college days. I got on the 93 bus all the way to the Rastro outdoor flea market. To my surprise, what I thought would be a small street market took up an entire parking lot. There were hundreds of tents and surrounded by a tall silver fence. I walked all the way to the other side toward the entrance. I came upon rows and rows of tents, tables and mats filled with all the little things I could imagine.

Some of my favourites were the booths selling dolls. Some of the most popular dolls when I was young were Barbie and American girl dolls and the Monster High dolls. The latter I personally loved and they filled the minds of my sisters and me during our childhood years. I still have some of mine in a shoebox at home, but never see them in stores anymore.

This booth had the most of them I’ve seen in years, enough to bring young Kealani out from a place long ago. Spectra Voltergeist, the daughter of the ghost. Rochelle Goyle daughter of the gargoyle. Abby Bominable daughter of the infamous Snowman. And Ghoulia, daughter of the zombie, had me frozen me in my tracks. And for a little bit there I was, a 20-year-old searching for some beauty and grandeur in life All by playing with dolls by myself in a random flea market.

Paella World Cup

After I had finished looking at every booth I needed to sit down. I ran into two fellow students in the shade. We planned on meeting up later that afternoon for museums and took the 93 together back to Ruzafa. As I arrived home, I got a text from another friend asking to walk around the city before dinnertime. We met up on a corner of Calle Centelles to explore the centre. We walked to the centre and came upon a festival in the main square. Booths filled its entirety with chefs cooking the biggest plates of paella.

People of all ages were queuing to try the different types/ The savoury aroma of spices and meats filled the air. Toward the front was a stage. To the side, a section of the sidewalk, about the side of an EMT bus had a layer of rice and a velvet rope as if it were a red carpet. The EU rice festival was a cheerful event to celebrate the iconic Spanish dish. Almost everyone who travels here must try it. Not to mention the different ways people have made it their own.

What have. the Romans ever done for us?

We then stopped at the L’Almoïna, remnants of a Roman bath from the old empire. While the ruins were underground, we could see it vaguely from the glass floor covered with a layer of water. It was not open, so we continued to the old Turia river, now a park. We sat in the shade as we waited for our friend to meet us at the Museu Belles Artes. Under the warm shade we shared a picnic, trading bites of our sandwiches and a chocolate wafer candy. We sat watching the passersby walk their dogs, talk with friends and family, jog, and cycle.

Museu Belles Artes

The Museu was humble and unassuming on the outside but going in we came upon the centre room. It has a high domed ceiling painted blue with gold buttons as if it were the night sky. We slowly began our walk along the creaky wood floors, taking in the centuries of humans making art. This museum was small, and intimate in comparison with the Louvre and National Mall museums I’ve been to. Walking through the exhibit on Salvador Dali fulfilled an old dream from my elementary years learning about him in art class.

Seeing his work with my own eyes felt nearly as surreal as the art itself, strange and alluring. We walked past hundreds of portraits, and I wondered about the lives of these people, captured, and preserved in a canvas and frame. I wondered too about all the lives never captured and accounted for. While we see nobility, royalty and higher classes in the perspective of a portrait, I longed for the close-up of a peasant, a baker or the homeless to get a glimpse of their stories.

Turning Japanese

After coming home my roommates and I got ready to go out to dinner for the first time after moving in. We were craving sushi and went to a small corner shop down Peris I Valero our host mom recommended to us. One thing I miss about my hometown is the restaurants. NOVA – Northern Virgina – is home to so many cultures I could get in a car and try cuisine from almost anywhere in the world, dine in or to go.

Sitting at our table waiting to order, we got to know the two girls from California, the opposite side of the country from Lilly and me. A beautiful thing about meeting fellow 20 somethings is that at heart, we are little girls who love to laugh, be silly, play pretend and talk about our dreams. We shared memories made throughout our lives in our little hometowns from opposite ends of the United States. And we gushed over our celebrity crushes as we had miso soup and sushi.

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