Today we woke up and had a late breakfast before we headed just ouside of Carranque to look at some ancient Roman ruins. The ruins were incredible! They were discovered only 30 years ago after a farmer accidentally dug up some of the ruins with his plow. These ruins had large tile mosaics on the floor (the main surviving structure). Most of these mosaics were made with tiles that were less than a cm large. There were also a couple of 2 meter tall columns each made out of one single piece of marble. The marble was most likely mined from Turkey and then shipped over to Spain. This would have been incredibly expensive, and signified that the builder of the home was most likely a wealthy plantation owner. The most interesting thing I saw was the way the builders of the home heated it during the winter.
Underneath the floor of the north rooms was an empty space about three feet tall. Connecting to this space was an outdoor furnace that would burn extremely hot. The hot air and smoke would then be directed from the furnace to the space under the floor. This would cause the floor to get very warm and would heat the room! The smoke was then directed through chimneys that ran up along the corners of the room. This would also add warmth to the room by heating up the walls.
After we had looked at all the ruins we hurried home to pick up a traditional Spanish meal known as Pyaya (not exactly sure on spelling). The pyaya was interesting to say the least. The meal is prepared by filling a pan with white rice, adding secret herbs and spices, and then mixing in every seafood item imaginable. By everything I mean everything shell and all. Muscles, squid, crab, shrimp, prawns, oysters were all visable. The mixture is then covered with foil and baked in an oven for an undisclosed amount of time. Once the creation is finished baking, simply scoop out the mixture (shells and all) out onto your plate to serve. To eat y9ur creation, pick out the shells, shrimp, and crab and scoop out their contents. Then mix everything once again.
Now I am definitely a Midwestern farm boy so seafood is something that I have not experienced much. To my suprise the Pyaya did not make me lose my cookies. I was able to keep everything under control and even went back for seconds! The Pyaya was not terrible at all. It for sure had a flavor that I was not used to, but it was an interesting cultural experience that I will remember for years.
After lunch MiLeah and I played with Jaime quite a bit. Eventually, he needed to do some homework so MiLeah and I rested a while before packing our bags for out trip home.
Today MiLeah and I set out for the USA! We woke up at about 5:30 in the morning and got to the airport at 7:30 (a full 2 hours before our flight as recommended). When we walked into the airport we knew something was not right. A huge line streamed out of the United Airlines luggage check section. Even on a busy day the line should not have been this long and as we waited in line we found that our suspensions were correct. The entire airport was having trouble booking flights because their computer system was down. We waited in line for an hour and a half before we said goodbye to Rocio and began to proceed through security. The Madrid security checkpoint is very very strange. You go through all the standard procedure (checking boarding passes, putting your bag on an xray belt, and walking through medal dectector) but we then noticed that our boarding passes would be checked again for an additional level of security. This is where things got a little obnoxious.
I am not sure if it was an American procedure or if it was a Madrid procedure, but I was randomly selected for an additional security check. I was brought over to a special xray belt, repeated the same process that I had already done, had to take off my shoes (which is not as common in countries other than the USA), got a full body pat down, had to empty everything out of my carry on, ran the empty backpack through the scanner, then I was instructed to go to see a man dressed in a military uniform.
I had been asking every person I came in why this was necessary, but no one spoke English and my Spanish is very poor. When I cam to the military man I asked what was happening, in broken English he explained that it was random and I did nothing wrong and he just needed my drivers license to confirm my address. I gladly gave it and after taking down my information, he sent me on my way. I was very thankful that I made it through with no difficulty, but that was just the beginning of our trip.
We figured that our flight would be a little delayed because of the computer issue, and we were not incorrect. We saw as we approached the gate that the flight had been delayed an hour. This was a relief to us because my security issue would have caused us to miss the flight if the time had stayed the same.
MiLeah and I grabbed some food and used up some of my remaining euros on chocolate! We relaxed and waited for our flight. We did not realize that this wait would end up being over 3 and a half hours before we boarded because of a hydrolic leak on one of the landing gears. Eventually we boarded and got to wait on the the tarmac for an hour because of problems finding airspace for us.
We are now in the air with about 2 hours left before we land and I am worried about our connecting flight in Newark, NJ. We originally had almost 5 hours to get through customs, switch terminals, and get on our plane, but because of our delays we will only have about 2 hours. If or connecting flight is canceled, I am concerned that we might be spending the night in Chicago because I don't think there are very many Chicago to Springfield flights. I know that God has His hand on us and we will get home fine, it would just be nice to see my family tonight.
By the time you see this I will have already landed and might be running through the airport trying to get us to the flight on time! So say a quick prayer for us that we make it home save and sound and on schedule!