Thursday, June 29, 2006

Rain On My Parade?

While conducting more research about my upcoming trip, I encountered posts on a few websites about racism in Spain. Now, this ain't listed in any of the guidebooks I've read. I guess Rick Steve's didn't have any negative encounters in his travels. Apparently that isn't the case for some sistahs.

According to anecdotes I've read, women of African descent have experienced incidents where they were mistaken for prostitutes. Seems as though many of the prostitutes in various parts of Spain are illegal immigrants or refugees from the continent of Africa and they're very active and aggressive. For that reason, ALL women of dark skin are taken for prostitutes. It's difficult for me to believe anyone could be that ignorant. There's something to be said for common decency; that you wouldn't approach anyone that way unless they send you a signal. I understand things aren't so bad once they realize you're . Umph, ain't that somethin'.
So, what am I going to do? I'm goin' to Spain, ya'll! This will not dampen my excitement. I'm just thankful I know this may happen, so I won't be taken by surprise. I'll also be sure to follow custom and dress conservatively and ignore any ignorance I may encounter.

Keep me in your prayers, yall.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hmmm, Do I REALLY Need That??

As I'm trekking around Spain, I can image that backpack'll feel kinda heavy after a while. Since the backpack will be my only luggage, I'll need to take as little as possible. If you know me well, I'm a huge packrat. Deciding what to take was no small feat, but the thought of carrying a big load on my back helped me scale it down to the bare necessities. Finding multiple uses for items is key. For example, the Doc Bronner's soap has 18 uses and is already my body wash and shampoo. It'll now become my laundry detergent as I wash on the road.

I've been seriously considering becoming a minimalist, so this is the perfect opportunity to see what it's like. I'm sho' gon' miss my laptop. *sniff*

Packing list
  1. 1 pr brown gauchos ($10 @ Target. So cute & comfortable)
  2. 1 pr black gauchos
  3. 1 skirt
  4. 4 tops
  5. Undies
  6. 1 bathing suit
  7. 1 long-sleeved shrug (to give my outfits a different look)
  8. 1 pashmina (gives you 10 different looks and covers you for cathedral visits)
  9. 1 jacket
  10. 1 pr flip flops (shower & beach shoes)
  11. 1 pr hiking boots
  12. Toothbrush/toothpaste/deodorant
  13. 1 water bottle of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Oil Soap (body wash, shampoo, detergent)
  14. Shea butter/essential oil mix (lotion & hair moisturizer)
  15. Sunscreen
  16. Hat
  17. Gladrags
  18. 1 hiking daypack with hydration pack
  19. 1 sleep sheet
  20. 1 watch ($5 at Target. Keeps military time. Same as in Spain, so I won't miss the train.)
  21. 1 lock (to secure valuables in lockers)
  22. 1 money belt
  23. Ear plugs
  24. Mini first-aid kit
  25. Mini-sewing kit
  26. Mini flahlight w/ extra batteries
  27. Whistle
  28. Sanitizer wipes (and lots of 'em!)
  29. Digital Camera w/ 2 memory cards & charger
  30. Universal plug adapter
  31. Pedometer (to track my mileage)
  32. Snacks for the plane ride
  33. Journal
  34. Book of word puzzles
  35. Spanish phrase book (¿Dónde están los sevicios?)
  36. Rick Steve's Guidebook

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Pinching Pennies: Spain on a Budget

Several folks have hinted around or been outright nosy enough to ask how I can afford to go to Spain, when I have no job as of June 30th. As Ricky Ricardo would say, "Let me 'splain, Lucy." At first, I was simply going to splurge and dip into my savings. Then the practical side of me kicked in and said maybe I don't want to do that. Who knows when I'll decide to get a new job, so I just might need to be able to pay my bills.

Here's how I'm going to Spain without dipping into my reserves. Finding creative ways to make money is key, as is looking at how you think about money and cutting corners. Any money saved, is counted as money in your pocket. The easiest way is to cut current expenses. Eating out is one of my favorite things to do, so I'm cooking more. When going to make a purchase, I think in terms of what that may get me in Spain. As a result, that $2.50 gelato becomes a bus/train ride between some Spanish cities. I'll keep you posted on how I'm doing as I'm traveling. When I run out of money, I'm coming home!

Plane ticket - Cost me $239. Cheapest price found online: $2045. My dear friend, Greg, works for an airline and he was friend enough to give up one of his precious passes. Thank GOD for friends. Thanks, Greggy!

Room & board - According to Rick Steve's guidebook, a good economical trip can run you $80/day. According to Let's Go's guidebook, $35/day will do ya. Ya know I'm a whiz at being frugal, so I plan to do it for $25/day.

Earning spending money - I was browsing around eBay one day and realized that people sell all kinds of things on there...and people buy it! SO, I decided to do the same. The first 4 items were sold on eBay. See the explanation for the rest of the items.
  • Textbook #1: $60

  • Textbook #2: $38

  • Digital camera: $186 - Replaced my digicam a while ago, so I sold the used one.

  • Purseholder: $7

  • Rick Steve's Guidebook: $22- Returned new copy & checked it out at the library.

  • Phone earpiece: $10- Got returns lying around the house? Now's the time! This is transportation to Ã�vila, Segovia, AND Cercedilla.

  • Backpack: $200 - I also count money I didn't have to spend. A low-end travel backpack costs about this much. My price? $0! My dear friend, Corey, is lending me the backpack he used on a recent visit to Spain. Thanks, Corey!

  • Travel containers: $4 - I was recycling some water bottles and I thought, "Hmmm, these look like those travel bottles at the store. Update: Okay, I didn't have to go there. I purchased a travel kit that'll hang from the towel rack and it came with travel bottles/soap dish/ toothbruth holder. $9.00 @ Ross!
  • Textbook #3: $18
  • Textbook #4: $27
  • Textbook #5: $14
  • Textbook #6: $50
  • Paperback novel: $7
  • Another paperback: $13

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Getting Ready to Go

Okay, ya'll. I've been talkin' about it for a long time and now I'm doing it. I'm officially committed to a Blog. Yes, yes, we all know about my fear of commitment, but 'cha gotta start somewhere.

I want to be able to share my travels with you as I trek around Spain for a month. This will also reassure my mother I'm still alive. HI, MAMA! (Ya always gotta give ya mama a shoutout.)

Feel free to leave me comments for the times I need reassurance somebody, somewhere is thinkin' 'bout a sistah. To be honest, as adventurous and independent as I claim to be, I'm a bit nervous. *Shhh, don't tell nobody. We all know I'm a SKRONG black woman.* Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to exploring a different country all on my own. I plan to return with broadened horizons and a firmer grip on my Spanish.