That being said, there are really only a few things that I've noticed to be different here. El Tirador, a tapas bar across the street from the Sevilla Fútbol Club stadium, has a new name, but the same interior
. They've finished a few more bike paths, and the metro stops have Christmas decorations. The same man who makes it look like two life-sized dolls are dancing just by wearing them on his back still earns his living by the Ayuntamiento. One of the biggest differences that I noticed was that they are having a huge campaign to get people to become organ and tissue donors, with some really neat artwork down on Avenida de la Constitución and in Puerta Jerez. I'm excited to put those pictures up! There had to have been at least 30 distinct posters/pieces of art, but I only took pictures of a few of them. The second major difference is that they finished the construction that they were doing on Eduardo Dato, close to the fire station, on the way to CIEE. It was going on the entire time we were studying here and I had no idea what it was supposed to be, but the newly constructed buildings are the Ministry of Defense, and they're beautiful.
This morning I woke up thinking that Toni and I were going to the Plaza de España. I had mentioned that it was one of the places that I wanted to visit again, since it's my favorite tourist site in the city and I don't think I could get sick of it even after hundreds of visits. When I told her that, she said that I should go with her because she needs to go to the office of the Ministry of Education, which is actually inside the Plaza. I thought that would be perfect because, as many times as I've strolled through the outside of the plaza, I've never been in
. We left the house around noon and went to the unemployment office first. That was an experience, both interesting and depressing at the same time. I know that Spain's unemployment has reached 20% recently, and it was just full of people looking for any and every job they could find. I figured that my host family wasn't the wealthiest, but I didn't realize that she would be collecting unemployment.
Anyway. After that, we went to the Corte Ingles to return a sweater, and it was just madness with shoppers. Their day of giving presents is Thursday, el día de los Reyes Magos (Wise Men), and so everyone is still out shopping for gifts. I thought the Plaza was next on the list, but we ended up going back home after that. Lunch at 3:30, then Toni wanted to show me the Bethlehem display at the Hospital de San Juan, right down the street. It was like a nativity scene on steroids, and it was beautiful! I snuck a few pictures even though they weren't allowed.
Tomorrow is my last day here, and the only thing on the list that I HAVE to do is see the Plaza de España. They've finished the construction and it will NOT be a complete trip if I don't see it.
Middle-aged women still walk their mothers from their homes to the pharmacy; Sevillanos still crow the streets before and after soccer games; lunch is still at 3 pm and there's always too much food; the Spanish idea of planning still never involves set schedules. I've been reminded of all these things since I've been back, and I have mixed feelings about being here. One of my favorite quotes is something I saw in the Indianapolis airport this summer just before I went to Brazil: "Back home on the ground, we discover that the gift the great wings gave us is new eyes to see that this place where we live, we love more than we knew." I love traveling, but there's something to be said about coming home to the place you know you belong.