Over the past four weeks I have been so blessed to be submerged once again in the Spanish language. Unlike many of my fellow travelers, I am quite fluent in Spanish, and have been looking forward to once again using my diminishing vocabulary on a daily basis. I have not been let down. It seems that every day I learn a new word that we did not use in Mexico-Spanish, and it never fails to amuse me when vendors are caught off guard by the American speaking fluently. Yet language is not the only thing that makes up a culture. My host mom makes us delicious meals night and day, and the Spaniards never fail to be dressed to a tee when they are out on the streets. The siesta is something that I have not been able to take advantage of due to my afternoon classes, but I have enjoyed some slow and lazy mornings, sipping Spanish coffee and reading up on the news.
Our group has also had many fun experiences, especially in this last week as we took a few tours. Saturday evening we all hiked up to the Alhambra, the castle/fort that was left by the moors when they were conquered by the Christian kings in 1492. It would be impossible to convey the beauty of this palace through words or pictures, as everything from the architecture to the perfectly manicured gardens are breathtaking. A few of us even had the privilege of taking a guided tour with a focus on the role of women from that time period living in the palace. It was fun to get to go into certain places of the palace reserved for these visits, and watching the guard fend off curious tourists who wanted to come with us. It was also a great insight to how they treated women in the time, and the roles and locations that were reserved for women and servants.
Sunday we ventured into the Sierra Nevada to visit the Alpujarras, a series of towns esconded in the ridges and valleys of the beautiful mountains. Fortunately we were equipped with Dramamine as the road consisted of back and forth turns, sometimes along the edge of a cliff, with little or no guardrail, and lasted at least two hours. As we rose, the air became cooler, and although our restaurant had a pool that we were free to use, it was way too cold to dip in. Well, that is for most of us, there were a few brave ones… It was nice to relax by the pool after our big lunch of ham, eggs, potatoes, and bread. It was also sort of the calm before the storm. This week we have all be studying hard for our finals that took place both yesterday and today. We are all in good spirits again though as we are about to head off to free travel. Monday we had a farewell dinner in a ‘Carmen’ overlooking the Alhambra. The view was breathtaking, the food was delicious, and the company was, of course, excellent. Tomorrow we will all part ways as we embark on free travel. We will be going as near as different cities in Spain, and as far as Portugal, France, Netherlands, and Italy. Please pray for our safety in travel until we are all reunited again in Sevilla next Saturday.