I am proud to report that I have just arrived back from a somewhat spontaneous trip to Portland! Yes, it seems that when one is abroad the juices of spontaneity will flow. And I'm sure many of you are thinking - "finally"! (Ok, maybe just Amz and Niks...but still). So my partner in crime on this spontaneous expedition was my German friend Moritz. We left after class - around 11ish, and then I managed to get a lift back with someone after lunch, which was REALLY fortuitous, since the original plan included a rushed shopping spree for Moritz and then rushing back to Salem so that I could be back in time to leave for the Willamette Singers retreat (which runs from 17:20 today until 17:00 tomorrow). All around I feel it was a good decision to go to Portland (not one done without a notable amount of agonising over whether or not it was a good idea).
But enough about my little achievement...I have not updated my blog in a while, and so have a few new adventures and stories to share. Last weekend was Labour Day Weekend in the US - meaning that Monday was a public holiday - right on! :) Friday saw the international group being taken to the Oregon State Fair by our peer advisors. This was indeed fun, although I didn't venture onto any of the rides. Just walked around, checking out the scene (read: people) and examining a bunch of farm animals. Ja, for some reason people enjoy looking at pigs, goats, horses, cows, bunnies, sheep... in pens. I know what you're thinking...Hickville, right? There was even some kind of a sheep competition in which contestants lined up with their sheep (who were the real contestants), to show them off, and also did various things around an enclosed area. Weird.
I had my first all-American corn dog though! That was pretty exciting...well, up until I took the first bite and my arteries started screaming. A sausage (the contents of which are probably inappropriate to post on a public website), covered in a dough-like/bread-like/batter-like coating (uh, that would be the 'corn' part). Seriously? Oh well, at least I can say that I tried one, even if I have gone up a few dress sizes in the process. Speaking of going up a few dress sizes, the other discovery that we made were things called Elephant Ears...totally worth the calories (unlike the travesty that is the corn dog). Elephant Ears are basically just a soft, thick dough-like substance covered in cinnamon and sugar (and various other toppings). Kind of a very thick and large pancake, but really delicious and probably way more fattening. Oops, there goes another button.
On Saturday it was all aboard the train to Portland! Train trips are and always will be something fun, adventurous, and generally filled with feel-good feelings (maybe not the Paris underground - so I've been told). Upon arrival in Portland we took a brisk walk to the Saturday Market - so great! Browsed the stalls, chatted to some Americans, and ate of course! (pretty much all I've been doing since I got here. what a surprise). After getting lunch at the Saturday Market (a wrap from a Greek stall, plus more elephant ears!) we headed to the Pioneer Mall. Downtown Portland is really great, and fun to walk around in - cool city vibe, but not too hectic. After attempting some shopping (and I say ATTEMPTING because I was hopelessly unsuccesful in my shopping endeavours, and left Portland with NOTHING to show for it whilst everyone else picked up really cute things...sigh....I'm just not a gifted shopper), we headed to Powell's Book Store. WOW. Probably the size of a small country, Powell's Books is something to behold. Selling new and used books of all shapes, sizes and subjects, it is the kind of place in which I could get happily lost for days. Now there is a place where I would enjoy spending money (not that I did spend any money, but hey, details).
After experiencing the majesty and magnitude that is Powell's we ambled along the streets of Portland, and just happened to stumble upon (read: found on the map and hurried along to it) a Ben & Jerry's! Oh, look! Another place to buy calorie-filled food - hooray! This was quite exciting though, as I don't think I have ever had Ben & Jerry's before. And, wow! Now I can understand why women have secret love affairs with Ben & Jerry. I particularly enjoyed the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Butter Pecan flavours. Our delectable and decadent ice-creams were enjoyed on a patch of grass in a park nearby. And so, with our stomachs full and our wallets empty (well, some wallets), we boarded the train back to Salem after a fun day in the city.
On Sunday I visited a church called Church on the Hill with my friend Moritz. (As an aside, Moritz is a great Christian guy from Germany (also an international student at Willamette), who did a YWAM DTS in Australia in 2005. He met a young American guy on this DTS, and is now staying with this guy's family in Salem for the next year. Small world). I REALLY enjoyed Church on the Hill, and think I may have found a home. :) There are a lot of young people, everyone is really friendly and open, and there is a real community feel in this church. After worship there is always a coffee and cookies break (hey, look at that, more eating), and there are even tables interspersed among the rows of chairs upon which you can rest your coffee cup and notebook). Neat!
After church Moritz's "mom" invited me over for lunch - yummy Thai food. I spent the afternoon at their house (along with some of their friends from church), just hanging out and chatting. We then went to another young guy's house, where we watched a DVD, ordered pizza and celebrated a farewell with a bunch of the church peeps a little later on. Bottom line is that I have met some really great Christian people, and so will probably continue attending this church with Moritz.
Once again this is turning out to be a really long post that you busy people probably don't have the time to read! Oops! In just over an hour I leave for the Willamette Singers retreat. This promises to be a fun time, as the group is a really great and mixed group of people (we even have the Rugby captain in Singers! Not that rugby is anywhere near as big as football over here, but still, I thought it worth a mention). I will be back tomorrow evening to continue with weekend festivities this side (whatever that entails), and maybe do some homework too. Maybe.
Thanks for tuning in...
P.S. I would like to give a special shout-out to my aunt Helen all the way in Kirstenhof, Cape Town. Helen is celebrating her 50th birthday this weekend! Happy Birthday Helen! Woop! You legend you. Enjoy the party! Will be thinking of you all. Lots of love.