"Down here at Cape Spartel is the celebrated cave of Hercules, where the hero took refuge when he was vanquished and driven out of the Tangier country. It is full of inscriptions in the dead languages, which fact makes me think Hercules could not have traveled much, else he would not have kept a journal."

-"The Innocents Abroad," Mark Twain

Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's been too long.

Where do I begin? And how? I apologize for starting this and not adding to it; I have been at camp for the past two weeks. The lovely people there pulled out our brains, washed them, rung the water out, and hung them out to dry so that we could all mock each other as we watched to see whose mind would deteriorate the fastest. (So, as you read this, please excuse the grammar. And spelling. And word choice. Just try to stick to the general idea. Maybe.)

Thanks to everyone who has updated me about the weather situations back in the US. It's good to know that everyone is safe and can (possibly) continue to survive without power.

Yes. Language camp. I met some really sweet people and we had so much fun between class! We stayed about 45 minutes from my home town by Traunsee (the deepest lake in Austria), right next to a castle:


Our first weekend there, we hiked up a mountain. (They told us it would be a short walk, but it was muddy and a bit warm, as well as much steeper than the Appalachians.) The view was absolutely astounding, though! That evening, my host parents came to pick me up and took my host sister and I to a concert - part of the Salzburg Festival. (I KNOW. I WAS SO EXCITED!) We heard the Gustav Mahler Jugenorchester - directed by Sir Colin Davis, the President of the London Symphony Orchestra (!). The performers were quite good, obviously. I was not familiar with any of the pieces they performed, but they were very difficult. The second featured an opera singer and was done in French. Tschaikowski's Symphony No. 4 in F Minor op. 36 was the final piece, with the third movement entirely pizzicato, which was stunning. The fifth stand on the outside in the first violin section was quite amusing to watch throughout the whole performance. They would go back and forth trying to outdo each other with the theatrical movements and seemed to have several inside jokes during parts of the pieces. Unfortunately, I could not see the violists from where I was sitting, but the first cellist was so good! He looked like a proper European, too, which added so much character to the performance. Afterwards, my host parents came and took us around Salzburg briefly before we headed back to our house. I was able to sleep in a little bit before heading back to camp for the day's activities, which was refreshing.

We went into a salt mine (it's either the oldest mine in the world or the oldest mine in the world that is still in use), where it was very cold despite the heat outside! (Yes, we have had several very hot days here to balance out the cold ones.) It was fascinating (and a bit creepy) to see the interior before we headed out into the town for the remainder of the day.

We got to wear the most beautiful clothing in the mines...
and look at the huge chunks that were on display!

We walked to the next town over one afternoon after class where there was a pottery  market!

Today, we said goodbye and drove home. I went with my family to visit some of their friends and ended up meeting some really amazing artists! I couldn't resist taking some pictures of their studio (which is actually about 500 years old) that they had renovated themselves:

Miss you and hope you all are well!
<3, Mary Beth

P.S. In case you are wondering, we did actually learn things throughout camp, complete with homework and tests. :)

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