Sunday, January 17, 2010

Everybody's Workin for the Weekend

Random Statue? Check. Captain Morgain pose? Check.

Ben's Cookies London
L to R - Katie Bruce, Kalyn, Mary, Cam, Yours Truly, Leslie, Laura, Britin, Kellen

Been having a sweet weekend so far.

Friday (1/15) we had a program field trip to the Tower of London. Basically, it's this awesome prison/dungeon/armory/living space built in the 11th century. It's most famous for being the place where famous prisoners were held (generally people the King/Queen didn't like...especially family). They have and continue to use six ravens to send messages around/guard the premises. We got really close to one and it was probably a good eighteen inches tall. I wanted to chase it, but there's a "Ravens May Bite" sign on the grass and the one we were close to had a wicked sharp beak. Anyways, the Tower of London is also where the Crown Jewels have been guarded for ages. And let me tell you, the Crown Jewels are pretty freaking awesome. Crazy shiny. One of the scepters has the world's largest cut diamond (530 karats) and one of the crowns has the second largest (also a massive saphire and ruby to go along). I was actually most impressed with the punch bowl. It's the size of a small bathtub, made completely of gold, and intricately designed. Intracately designed as in Cam and I spent a few minutes playing 'I Spy'. We spied a lion wearing a crown, a unicorn, some angels, and found a lobster. There's a freaking golden lobster being guarded in the London Tower. Love it. The White Tower houses all of Henry VIII's armor and lots of his weapons. Ok, first of all, I'd just like the world to know that if you wanted me to give a crap about Henry VIII years ago you would have showed me a documentary on his armor. Yeah, he had all the shiny knight get-up, but that's far from all. The dude had gun shields. That's correct, shields with guns built into them. Genius. But the best was the two-handed metal mace with three gun barrels built into it. I was totally blown away. It's like this sick looking spiky ball at the end of a staff that shoots bullets. BULLETS! Henry VIII is officially awesome. Oh, and when he died his son did an inventory and found over six thousand hand guns in the Tower's armory alone.

After we went to the Tower, we headed out walking towards London Bridge. I had already seen it in my own outings, but hadn't walked across yet. The Thames is a pretty cool river, and has a battleship anchored in it. After we crossed we headed to The George tavern. The George is built on the site where the Tabard Inn used to be. The Tabbard is the inn where the Pilgrims stay in Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (Grandma will be stoked to hear that one). There's not much to see because there's not much left, but we were then pointed in the direction of the Borough Market. The Borough Market happens Fridays and Saturdays and is, essentially, well, a market. There are places to eat, things to buy, and stands for all sorts of things. A lot of the girls were grossed out by the food stand where you could choose your own dead duck, bunny rabbit, or chicken and have it prepared for you. After South America I was like "as long as I don't have to kill it, there's nothing weird about it." I bought a pork sandwich (I'm so hungry right now, dangit) with stuffing on it and then a huge eclaire that I wolfed down after savoring the first bite. After that we had things to do and reading to procrastinate, so we headed home, watched A Knight's Tale, and went to bed.

Yesterday (Saturday) I slept in till about 11. Between that and sleeping in a bit today I think my body is finally going to start getting used to the time change. I've been a little off-kilter lately (mainly because I'm too busy/mesmerized to sleep). Anyways, the other day Cam and I found a sports store that is going out of business. It's at the end of Oxford Street, which is miles and miles of retail stores (with a GAP like every sixteen yards, I swear). We have been unsuccessful in finding raquetball or basketball courts, so we've finally decided to give up on our lives and try jogging. I HATE jogging--running without some round sporting apparatus to take your mind off the pain is pointless--but I figured that if it's running or nothing I will run. Not excited for it, but I did buy a shirt and a light waterproof jacket so that I'll actually have to use them to justify the purchase. There were all sorts of cool things on sale. If I was rich I would have gone crazy in that store. Kalyn came along with us, so on our way out she decided she wanted to stop by Primark, which is like a clothing outlet. Overall we weren't that impressed (the girls love it though), but we did find bow-ties for one pound and I got some church socks. Then we headed back home.

Since they don't feed us on Saturdays we just ate leftover fish and chips from Friday's dinner. After about three hours we were all starving again so we headed to Khan's for dinner. Khan's is an indian place. Cam and I were both stuffed still, so we split a meal and each got a 'nan' (pronounced 'non'). A nan is a giant tortilla. When Cameron explained it to me Laura got pretty hilariously indignant about it. She's like, "It's not even the same thing at all!" I wasn't having any of that, so I proceeded to call it 'uno tortilla' till I actually ordered it (yes, I considered asking the waiter for a tortilla thingy). So we dumped our Butter Chicken (not even what I was expecting...which was chicken with a stick of butter on it) on top of them and pigged out. I need to stop talking about food, but I'm not done. So Khan's was really good and we'll definitely go back a few times. Anyways, word on the street had it that there was a Pound store (like the dollar store, but 1.6 times as expensive) by the mall. So we grabbed the underground train to Shepherd's Bush station, walked around an enormous ritzy mall, found the pound store, realized it had been closed for about an hour, and went back to the Centre. Once inside the centre Katie Bruce (we've never not called her by her first and last name) and Britin informed me that I was to accompany them to find something to eat because I am entertaining. I'm not one to be flattered and stand still, so I made Kellen decide where to go and we went. The first place we went was closed. I told them that winging it was going to end up in epic failure, but they didn't listen. So we got back on to the Tube, went back to Shepherd's Bush station, walked around one side of the same enormous ritzy mall, and then gave up and went to a place called Costa Coffee (which is like Starbucks...everywhere). But my slice of carrot cake made me feel better and we all went merrily home. The End.

Today has been great. I slept in, walked to church, spoke Portuguese, and now I am home and waiting for it to be 5:30 pm so I can help with dinner crew (every night for a week two times this is a blast, cleaning wouldn't be except we found a radio so we have a rave while we wash dishes). Our reception in church was about like I expected. All of the Portuguese-speaking members were very nice to the girls and once they found out I speak Portuguese I was automatically their best friend. I recognized the guy sitting next to me in Sunday School from somewhere. Turns out the dude is from Goiania, in a ward next to one of the wards I served in. He pointed out two other guys who are also from Goiania, one who moved into a ward after I had left and one whose mother-in-law fed me weekly. I haven't felt that much at home in church since I left Brazil. They are truly an amazing people and I am overly blessed. We (me, Reesa, Jenn, and Audrey...none of them speak the language) met with the Branch President after sacrament meeting. He put all three girls in Primary (Jenn plays the piano, the other two will teach [the kids speak English but the manuals are in Portuguese hahaha]) and put me in with the young men. I am the fourth young men advisor and we have four boys. We have Pedro and Giovanni (teachers) and Victor and Carlos (priests). The other leaders are Daniel (great Liverpool accent, fluent in spanish), Rui (from Portugal), and Bruno (the dude I recognized, from Goiania). We have a temple trip this Saturday and I offered to go. I'll probably teach, help with fundraising to get the boys to EFY, and be around to answer questions about getting into a university and serving a mission. Needless to say, I am thrilled to be where I am and couldn't have received a warmer welcome if I had died and gone to heaven.

So that's the long update for the week. Things here are going very well. I haven't done any homework or even bought all of my books yet, but there's time for all of that. Tchauzinho!


Anonymous said...

I! LOVE! KHAN'S! LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE. mail me some when im in the mtc, ok? it doesnt count as a letter, so you won't be breaking our agreement. ok?

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