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Friday, June 14

My Time in Florida (continued)

-Sunday, ahh, Sunday was glorious.  First of all, during sacrament meeting they had a farewell of sorts for a family in the ward who was moving to Montreal because the Dad had been called as a mission president.  In addition, the eldest daughter was leaving to serve a mission in Paris.  The family did a musical number and sang love at home in French--it was super sweet.  Then, I got to teach the 10-11 year old class.  Being with them reminded me how much I love teaching any age and how much I love teaching the gospel.  We had a lot of fun and those kids cracked me up.  It was cool to be with them during sharing time and hear and sing songs that I remember singing in Primary--it's been awhile.

-After church there was a luncheon for the family leaving to Montreal and I got to meet Isjaneth who is the coolest.  It felt soooo good to speak in Spanish and of course, she is a steel magnolia like so many of the incredible women I met in Argentina.

-Later that evening we headed over to Isjaneth's house to make arepas and hang with the family.  I feel pretty good about being able to make them on my own as long as I can find the right kind of corn flour.  Trust me, I want to make these at home, and you want me to invite you over for dinner :)  After dinner we played games with the kids--who I adore.  Joel is a mischievous little boy who is just silly and such a character.  Sarah is incredibly smart and eager to learn.  Sarah sang for us and then got on the piano and performed some of the songs she has written.  They're good, mark my words you will hear this girl on the radio someday.  You just don't expect to hear a voice like she has coming from an 8-9 year old.

-I was seriously grinning from ear-to-ear by the time we left.  It just felt so good to attend a normal family ward and feel needed in a calling and to spend time with an awesome family and speak Spanish.  It felt almost a little bit like the mission.

-Monday I started to notice all of the creatures that live in Florida.  I found frogs (or maybe that was Tuesday?) by the outside trash can and I snapped a picture of this little guy after I noticed a few of them hanging from the outside of Makamae's windows.

-We also hit up Ybor City.  This is the place I would live if I were to move to Tampa.  We were on a mission to find this Cuban Bakery I had read about online called La Segunda Bakery.  You can read more about it HERE if you want :)  Once again here are some pictures of the bakery that I didn't think to take and a picture of my guava turnovers.


Mmmmm, guava pastries!
-On the way home I was appreciating the houses and the overall ambiance of the place that is Ybor City and how it was a little rough around the edges.  For example, the beautiful white house on the bottom right has bars on the lower windows.  Mak probably thought it was weird that I was giddy driving through this semi-sketch neighborhood but I loved it.

-That night we had Alona over for dinner and I made empanadas.  You can buy the tapas at Wal-mart and pretty much any other grocery store in Tampa.  I'm a little jealous that I can't just go to my regular grocery store to pick up some tapas.  I made them a little bit too spicy since I threw some cayenne pepper in the picadillo but a little kick never hurt anyone.  They turned out lovely.

-Tuesday we hit up the Hyde Park shopping area to visit some boutiques.  The Hyde Park neighborhood reminds me a little bit of a those picture perfect neighborhoods with well kept old mansions in Southeast Portland.  The buildings and homes are old but beautifully restored/upkept.  It upkept a word?  You know what I mean though, like, maintained.  Super trendy though; I'm glad Mak thought to take me here.

Can't seem to find the link where I borrowed this image from--don't sue me people.

-After that we made our way over to the centro of Ybor City.  I could have a taken a million pictures of the buildings.  Just look for yourself.  I adored this area.  It was a little bit eclectic and kind of funky.  Reminded me of NW 23rd in Portland.  My favorite was the cuban cigar store and all of the old men sitting outside smoking.

Can you tell I loved the archways and the iron detail at the top?
Isn't it just so charming?
-Okay, I can't remember the name of the crepe place but that was our reason for heading back to Ybor City for the second day in a row.  I loved the tile floors in the place, it seemed like the kind of flooring you'd find in an old house in San Juan centro.  I was just waiting for someone to come out with a lampazo to start cleaning the floors.  I also snapped a pic of some of the creative crepe names.

This is Ybor City, I loved the brick roads!
-Also some time on Tuesday Mak took me to a neighborhood in South Tampa, near the AF base, where they had brick roads and I took some pictures of this amazing public elementary school.

-Wednesday I didn't take any pictures.  We did head back to La Segunda for more guava tarts and turnovers.  Mak made pitas for me and they came in real handy when I started to get hungry at the airport.

-I totally home aloned it through the Dallas/Ft. Worth airport because our plane landed as my plane to Salt Lake began boarding.  Of course we taxied for EVER and then people taking their sweet time getting off the plane.  Then, I found out I need to get to a different concourse and had to take the shuttle thing which had numerous stops before I could finally get off in the right area and run to my gate.  I got there 2 minutes before scheduled take-off.  Whew, glad I made home!

Thursday, June 13

My (First) Time In Florida!

I had written a bunch of gloriously detailed travel logs about my trip and then the internet decided to be dumb and I lost almost 2 hours worth of writing.  So here's my best to recap what I have already written once.  

-I arrived in Florida early, early in the morning and immediately noticed the warm, wet, humid air.  It was very green and tropical.  It all kind of made me feel at home in an Oregon summer except even wetter and different kinds of trees.  The Sunshine State was actually really overcast and dull, but that's because a major storm was coming in.

-My phone woke me up from a nap telling to me seek shelter because there was a tornado warning.  Mak and I watched the news for awhile while she made tortillas and then we decided to heed all of the warnings and took shelter in the laundry room and watched Warm Bodies on the laptop.  It was pretty windy and rainy but I certainly didn't feel like I was in the middle of hurricane or tornado or anything, granted, I never left the house.

-Friday we watched over the movers at Alona's house (one of Makamae's friends) in St. Petersburg (St. Pete) while she ran to get the key to her new house on base.

-We made our way west and and hit up the beach.  I PUT MY FEET IN THE GULF OF MEXICO.  I loved it.  It was strange because everything about it was different from the beaches I'm used to in California and Oregon.  The sand was really white and the water was deliciously warm.  I'm told the waves aren't usually as big, but I'm wondering if the wind and waves were residual effects from the storm from the day before.  Next time I'm in Florida I will definitely be spending more time at the beach.  We hadn't really brought towels, swimsuits or other beachy stuff with us so we didn't stay long.

-On the way home we stumbled upon this great little hole-in-the-wall "Mexican Restaurant" called "El Huarache Veloz" in Pinellas Park.  I loved their version of "Autentic Mexican".



-What I loved most about it was that it wasn't the kind of Mexican food I'm accustomed to.  It felt like it had a heavy Caribbean influence.  The rice and beans tasted Puerto Rican to me.  I got a Venezuelan style arepa (at least I think so) and Mak got a Cuban sandwich.  So yeah, nothing we got was really Mexican.  The Spanish spelling errors all over the menu was my first clue that this place was a little gem and it really was--I'm glad we stopped.

-Later in the day we hit up MacDill AFB.  I really enjoyed seeing the base and thought the houses were charming and reminded me of a Florida version of Daybreak almost.  I surprised myself with how excited I got each time we went on base whether it was to grocery shop, hit the gym or just drive around.  Here are some pictures of the houses that I didn't take but it gives you an idea of what the houses look like.


The ones above were def my favorite!

These ones are duplexes and surprisingly very spacious on the inside.  The garage is underneath.  I think the alleyway system is what most gave me the Daybreak vibe.

See!  Daybreak-y Charm.

-Saturday was our day to hit up Orlando and we woke up EARLY.  Like, 5:30 AM early.  But it was worth it.  The temple was awesome.  Sister Perez was coordinating the initiatories and she had the most beautiful French accent.  She married a Spaniard but didn't speak a lick of Spanish.  It was funny to watch her interact with all of the Latin sisters in her thick French accent and their thick Spanish accents.  I also had a nice little chat with an elderly German sister who was so sweet to me.  I had names from Argentina, Chile and the Bahamas.  Who knew the Orlando temple would be so culturally diverse?  We also went to the celestial room and it was just lovely.

-After that we hit up Epcot and I'm a dork and didn't take many pictures except for this one of us waiting in a line at Test Track.  I don't really remember the names of the rides but I really liked the ones we went on.  It was really big and overwhelming.  I commented to Mak that it kind of felt like an interactive museum to me.  Each ride is like an event, like an exhibit in the museum.  There weren't as many rides as I was expecting but there was way, way more to see than I was expecting.  Even though it was a Saturday in June I didn't feel like the lines were really bad or that it was really crowded.  Well, in the afternoon after rides we hit up the countries and I started to get a little loopy from the heat and humidity.  It was really cool to walk from one country into the next though.

-We decided to head home after we saw these big, dark rain clouds heading towards the park.  It had started sprinkling by the time we got towards the front of the park and by the time we made it to the car is was pouring.  During the entire drive back to Tampa it rained like something I have never ever seen in the Northwest (I did see something similar on New Year's Day in Lujan De Cuyo).  People had to slow down to 40 MPH on the freeway and put on their hazard lights because you couldn't see anything and there was so much water on the roads.  The picture below is actually from Sunday but you get the idea--when it rains in Florida, it pours!

I will write more tomorrow to tell you about Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  Stay tuned.
Read about the rest of my trip HERE.