little sarah Big World

Month: May, 2012

¡Hola de España! no.3‏

This one was by far my favorite, which is why I reproduced it verbatim in the zine. But I’m also still going to post it here, just because. So far you’ve only missed:

¡Hola de España!

¡Hola de España! #2

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¡¿Que tal, todo el mundo?! Speaking of which, ‘que tal’ is a phrase that is used all the time here (like ‘que pasa’), and yet none of us is quite sure what it means. It seems to mean both ‘how are you doing?’ and ‘how did it go?’ All I know is that if you reply ‘bien’ (‘well’), you’re in the clear. Maybe you can help me out on this one, Carolita.

In other news, Im broke. Well, not yet, but my money is basically just evaporating, and I think we all know that I’m far from being an extravagant spender. And I thought I was going to have this temporary nanny job in Madrid in July, but that didn’t pan out. So I’m going to try my hand at street-musician-hood (which is legal here…I´m pretty sure). There’s this older man who’s always playing his violin in the shopping district, and I’m about as good as he is, but I think I’ll play over near the cathedral, because I need to claim my own turf. And besides, I won’t need to use sheet music like he does, because I’ve got my shit MEMORIZED (and because I didn’t pack my stand).

Also, Beatriz just put on SO MUCH perfume. Like 15 spritzes. I don’t even know. I couldn’t count. But it smells good.

And now for some observations:

-When the cross-walk sign here goes from little green man to flashing little green man (before it’s little red man), it flashes, like, TWO TIMES. So there is no time to fool around and you have to run. However, the time between when the light turns red for the cars to stop and when the little green man appears for the ‘peatones’ (pedestrians) to go is FOREVER. It’s so long. And some people jaywalk while others don’t. I do if I’m in a hurry.

-The dogs here are full of personality. They’re all over the city and off the leash, just walking down the street with their owners like ‘Oh, hey, what´s up? Yeah, me? I´m just goin’ for a walk with my human pal, no biggie.’ It’s awesome. I want to steal one.

-All of the children here are immaculately dressed. They’ve all got cardigans and knee-high socks and leather shoes and it looks like from the forties but it’s now and I want to steal one of these, too. Dashiel says I should pick a young one so it won’t have memories of its parents.

-All of the grandmas in this city have their grandkids in the afternoon, out and about. All of them. Or so it seems.

-The word for refrigerator here is ‘frigerifico’ which translates to ‘fridgerific’ which translates to ‘awesome word.’ Almost as cool as ‘autostopista’ (hitch-hiker)

-and this one’s an anecdote: My mom here has this spray that she does in the kitchen after her boyfriend smokes a cigarette, or really just whenever she feels like it, and anything that isn’t on lockdown (i.e. in the refrigerator or sealed by me and not her) gets the spray in it and then it tastes and smells like chemicals for ever after. Like this turrón candy that she keeps pushing on me. Or the sandwich bread. The other night she made me a ham and cheese sandwich and it tasted like poison, so I was trying to eat as little as possible while still being polite, and then she offered to toast it, which either evaporated the chemically-ness or just singed it deeper into the food, but either way I ate it and I’m too wussy to be like ‘Listen, Beatriz, it’s about the slow poisoning that you’re accidentally imposing on us…’

And now it’s midnight and I need to go to bed because I have to get up at 6ish to catch a bus to Bilbao. Woo! This is our free weekend, and I’m going to Bilbao and then to San Sebastian with the twins and a quiet boy named Kevin. We did fake interviews in pairs today in conversation class (in Spanish), and we all had to draw a famous person’s name out of a hat for who the interviewee would be. I was the interviewer in my pair and Katrina was Madonna. We won. She just kept saying ‘Madonna IS Kabalah, she IS yoga’ and I guess I did a good job of being the caring/concerned host (‘¿Cómo estás, Madonna? ¿Cómo. Es. TÁS?’). Kevin was Cookie Monster, and he played it totally straight, like ‘Well, I usually just hang around Sesame Street with my friends, Elmo and Oscar–he lives in the trash–and we count to ten, or we talk about different letters, like M, or maybe S.’ I thought I was going to pee my pants.

And that´s all for now! Oh, there’s so much more to write about! Later, though, later. I love you all! ¡Hasta luego!


p.s. Those of you who are receiving this for the first time: Yeah, that’s because I decided you should recieve this now.

¡Hola de España! #2‏

Need to catch up? So far you’ve only missed:

¡Hola de España!

¡Hola, Todo el Mundo! So, tomorrow I will have been here for a week, and that´s interesting and strange for me to think about. I oscillate back and forth between feeling like ‘I have plenty of time and so much has happened already and it´s only been a week and I still have four more weeks here to do so many other things and I´m going to learn so much!’ and like ‘A week has already passed and there´s still so much to do and I´m running out of time and I´m not going to be able to do everything that I want and I´m not learning nearly enough and I´m not going to learn hardly anything!’ You know, but that´s just me, and Beatriz assures me that I´m already speaking so much better, and I know that I´m comprehending a ton more.

But I should point out that both Beatriz and my professor thank it´s funny that, as well as we speak (in level four), none of us knows basic vocab, like for the names of different articles of clothing, or the names of animals. I don´t know, I´ve just never learned that stuff and never really needed to know it before. So I´m gaining lots of vocab.

We all sort of feel like kids again though. I´ll tell you how my days go, and then you´ll see. I wake up and get ready and Beatriz is already up and has layed out breakfast like in those cereal commercials where they´re like ‘part of a complete breakfast,’ and you´re like ‘I thought cereal WAS a complete breakfast…’ Then she gives me a snack to take to school, and then I walk to school with this girl named Jeanine and then I have school from 9:30 to 2, and in school we learn the names of animals and how to descibe people´s faces and we play games. Then after school everyone goes home to eat lunch with their families and I eat with Beatriz and we watch the news and chat about the world and our days (I guess that part is a bit more adult). Then I take a nap, and then I practice violin, and then I hang out with my friends until dinner (at 10). Then I come home, eat dinner and chat with Beatriz and Eusebio (her novio). And then I do my homework and go to bed. I feel about twelve.

The exception is last night, though, when we drank beer. The majoritiy of the students in my program want to party, and a lot of the dudes are on a perpetual quest for weed, and I keep having to explain that ‘I´m a prude and I may have a beer but I´m not going to get drunk.’ Last night we wound up at a bar with all of the other students (something we´ve been trying to avoid), and they were WASTED and LOUD, and it sucked. There´s about 4 others who (like the twins and I) don´t want to party, but even that turns me off, because I know I won´t make any Spanish friends in such a large group, and that´s what I really want. Sometimes I even feel stifled with just me and the twins. So I´m going to start taking afternoon walks by myself to try and meet some Spanish kids (if it ever stops RAINING!).

Okay, really long e-mail, so I guess this is enough for now. ¡Hasta Luego!

-Love, Sarah

p.s. Mom, can you forward this to Steve. I lost his e-mail address already. Also, can you send whatever Netflix just came for me back? I put my account on hold, but that doesn´t go into effect until they get that back. Thank you!

 p.p.s Spanish speakers: today we went on an excursion, and I was like ‘Man, I want to hacer me some senderismo’ Thought that was funny.

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Stay tuned for more blasts from the past!

The Origins of littlesarahBigWorld


¡Hola de España!‏

So here I am. In Buenos Aires. On my own. And I kind of dig it. It’s been a while since I’ve had an adventure of this magnetude–travelling alone in a country that I know almost nothing about, with only the vaguest of plans and intentions. It reminds me of the first time I did this, in Spain. Allow me to set the scene:

Summer 2008. I am 23 years old. I have been out of the country only once before, to visit whitney for 10 days in Paris. I arrive in Madrid, catch a taxi fromt he airport to the bus station, buy a ticket headed north, and am on my way to Oviedo. All within the space of about an hour. I feel good about this trip, because of course I speak Spanish, and of course I will make friends with whom I can travel for 3 weeks, after the 5 week intensive Spanish language course ends. Right?

WRONG. My Spanish was not EVEN what I thought it was. And I wound up travelling alone, making hostel reservations for only one city ahead. Kissing strange boys. Busking. And I kept in touch with mass emails to my family and friends, and then I came home and made a zine about it. So, if you put those two things together, it’s kind of like littlesarahBigWorld. The beta version. Now, for your viewing and reading pleasure, I present you with those original emails and pages scanned from the first ever READ ME zine (of which there are…two. Whatevs). Enjoy!

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Hi family and friends! Wow, already it´s a bit dificult to write in English. I am in Spain!!!!! I arrived in Madrid yesterday morning at nine (one am in Utah time). There was almost no wait to get my bags and change my money and whatnot (the exchange rate! ¡Ay! 50 US dollars is, like, 30 Euros). By ten I had already caught a taxi to the bus station, purchased a ticket, and I was on the bus to Oviedo. I wanted so badly to stay awake on the bus, because the scenery was gorgeous, but I literally could not force my eyes open. I arrived in Oviedo at 3:30 and had 4 hours to kill. Oh, Moms (or Dad): I will contact Mountain America, but if you guys could also call and tell them that I´m in Spàin and that I´m not a theif and to un-freeze me account, because right now I have NO MONEY!

Mi familia is a single woman named Beatriz. She lives alone, but she has a boyfriend that comes over to eat dinner and chat with us. His name is Eusepio. They both talk very fast (faster than the other moms, like Katrina´s), and I´ve already dug myself into a rut by pretending to understand what they´re saying and now I guess I´ll just have to go with that. I understand about half. Sorry, I feel like there´s so much to say, and I´m having a hard time expressing myself in an orderly fashion. Today was the first day of classes, and from now on we will have classes from 9:30 to 2, with a short break from 11 to 11:30. Today we took a test and they divided us into four levels. I am in the fourth level!!! Estoy en el nivel mas avansada. The Cutrubi are in the third level, but I don´t know why, because I think they speak as well as I do. Their friend, Daschel (who is now my friend, as well) is in level four, along with about 8 others, including a boy who already did this exact program two years ago and is so cocky that´s it´s difficult to even be in the same room as him. Tomorrow is the first REAL day of classes, and I´m a little nervous but mostly excited.

What else…? Well, so far the only totally crazy thing about life in Oviedo is that my house (and other´s, like Krystal´s) only has ONE GARBAGE, and it´s in the kitchen. So, you know, what if I have lady problems? Or what about my used q-tips and floss? Am I supposed to just tote those things into the kitchen? I guess so.

I really like Beatriz. She´s never been married and has no children. She´s 54, but seems much younger and is very metropolitan. Oviedo is absolutely gorgeous, and very clean for a city (not as clean as Salt Lake, but much cleaner than New York–sorry Judy). The weather pattern here (so far) is sunny and clear in the morning, and then cloudy skies and moderate rain from 3 to 8. Then it´s clear and a bit chilly at night. But it´s fairly warm during the days, even when it´s raining.

I get really tired in the afternoons, because that´s when it´s night in Utah. Today I had my first Spanish hot chocolate, and it was very thick (like a syrup), but not as sweet as you´d think.

It´s strange to be here–strange because it´s NOT strange, because it feels only a bit different, like starting a new job. My firs wow-I´m-in-Spain moment was today when Krystal, Katrina, Daschel and I went to a restaurant and ordered in Spanish lke it was nothing. Oh, and I keep getting lost, because–although the streets all have names–there are few street signs. So people will tell you to turn right on Calle Uria, but then you don´t know which is Calle Uria.

Mom and Beth, I need your cell number. For some reason, my cell phone won´t turn on (somebody spilled water on it…Cody…). Once you give me your number, I can tell you how to call me here. And don´t forget to yell at MOuntain America. Oh, and does anybody have e-mail for Natalie or Eric? I don´t.

Okay, I´m going to go now. It´s about 11:30, and I need to be at the school at 9:30. I miss you all so much (especially Sebastian and Rosie and, of course, Chi). Sorry for the mass e-mail, but if you send me (short) personal responses and questions, I will send you a (short) personal e-mail. Thank you to everyone who helped to get me here! My Spanish is already so much better, and I can´t even imagine how it will be in 8 weeks. I love you all dearly! ¡Adios!

 -Love, Sarah

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Stay tuned for more dispatches from the littlesarah of FOUR YEARS AGO. What?! Time’s a cookie, Friends.

Hey, Dad


An Idea Borrowed from Whitney

Hey, Dad. Hi. How’s it going? I’m writing directly to you because I know you’re probably the number 1 reader of my blog, though I often have to push that thought away in order to write honestly about, you know, sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.

But I’m glad that you read, even when you over-analyze what I’ve written. I know you read so faithfully because you care, because you’re interested in my life and concerned for my well-being. So I just wanted to take a moment to say “hey,” and to let you know that I’m doing fine. You don’t have to worry, because I’m turning out just fine. Hello from littlesarahBigWorld. (These guys wanted to say “hi,” as well):


Hello from your mountain-climing, long distance-running, doowop-singing, yoga-loving, broadway musical-obsessed daughter. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree I guess, but that’s part of what makes me me, and the me that I am right now is loving life. No need to worry.


Hello from the top of Machu F***ing Picchu!!! I made it! Your daughter climbs mountains! She travels alone in South America! She gets sick and tired and has rough days and crummy experiences, but she keeps going, head held high, chin up, and on to the next adventure.

And she loves you. So you did alright. Things turned out well.

Oh, and one more thing:

Love from your Daughter,


Snapshot: La Serena, Chile

Laundry hanging to dry in Wilson and Jhamiel’s backyard:

Sunbathing, reading, writing in the ol’ journal:

Wilson carried the flip-n-f**k couch outside for me to do this. It takes the meaning of couch-surfing to a whole new level.

Going Out in Valpo


And to think, this all started in a church…

…where we went to hear classical guitar. And eat Oreos. Then we drink wine from mini bottles on top of an overpass. And then we went to a bar/club.

…where we drank more, danced to live rockabilly music, hit on the coat-check girl, got hit on by inexpert boys of all nationalities, and danced ’til the wee hours of the morn.

Then I walked home alone, got lost, and asked some sailors for direction. I was maybe still drunky when Brett woke me up this morning to catch our bus.

Don’t tell Mom.

Family Dinner


The Absolute Best of What CouchSurfing is and Can Be

Valparaíso (or “Valpo,” as the locals call it), is a crazy place. Chaotic, bohemian, grungy. And our CS stay here is like a microcosm of the city itself, with 3 hosts/inhabitants and SEVEN surfers–a german couple, an Italian, a Brasilian, a French girl, and then me and Brett.

When we first got here, I was feeling quite overwhelmed, unsure of what we should do (turns out: relax) or where we would sleep (turns out: the couch). People who’d been surfing for a while were making dinner, and seemed so at home. I wasn’t sure which would be more rude–assuming that we could eat some of their meal, or going out to eat, even though they were cooking.

Giuseppe’s dad (in Santiago) said that the world is supposed to end May 20th. Even though I don’t believe that, I had a low moment, thinking that I could be potentially spending my last few days on earth traveling somewhat aimlessly, spending money on trifles like food and buses, surrounded by strangers.

Then I remembered that, if I can’t be content and peaceful in the here and now, then life has no meaning for me. So I immersed myself in the present, opened up my heart to our hosts and fellow couch surfers, and had an amazing time. With fajitas.

This is what we call communal living, and it is equal parts chaos and beauty.

Goodbyes and Hellos

Leaving Santiago:

Arriving Valparaíso:

Every time we change towns I have a weird sort of traveler’s growing pains, always prefering where we were to where we are now. Then I get over it. Example: I totally didn’t love Valparaíso, and now I totally do. So I’ll just have to keep that in mind for the next change.

This is how we learn, Friends.

Santiago de Noche


Piscola and TariTA

Eight hours on bus, after I had double-checked that it would only be 5 1/2, and Brett was still miraculously waiting for me at the station. I’ve never been so happy to see anyone in all my life. He waited for 2 1/2 hours. Big, big hugs and bigger smiles.

We made it to Giuseppe (our host)’s house, dropped my stuff, went out for a walk. I finally bought two of the four things I wished I’d packed–a cardigan and a scarf. (The other two would be my pocket alarm and my camera battery charger. Ah, well). Then we ate dinner, plus a bottle of wine, at an Italian place. So far, Chile is cheaper than Argentina, and I’m okay with that.

I was feeling pretty groggy after the wine and wanted to just stay home and turn in early, but Giuseppe Sr. made me a pisco sour (the national drink, more or less), and I rallied by (inexpertly) taking pulls off of  Brett’s cigarette. Then we went with Giuseppe to a planning party/drinking fest at his friend’s house with a bunch of members of Rotaract (like JV Rotary Club).

We drank piscola (the JV national drink, and much better than Spain’s calimocho), danced, talked, and played drinking games until the host’s mom came home and bade us goodbye. Then it was: giggling on a public bus, late night french fries, and a good, long sleep in a bed while Brett snored.

It’s good to be with friends in a welcoming country.

Crossing the Border


8 Hours in a Camioneta

So I thought I could save time and money by taking a van from Mendoza to Santiago, instead of one of the big, plush tourbuses.

But it still took a full 8 hours, and I probably only saved $10. Ah, well. The scenery was lovely, and then van was surprisingly comfortable.

Even if customs took, like, 3 hours. No joke. It was worth it.

Welcome to Chile.