Wednesday, July 31, 2013
|Jumping around in the local Peña|
The running of the bulls was not how I expected it to be. I thought it would be just like the movies, with everybody standing in the streets, in danger of getting wrecked by a bull; however, the event, in the city of Bercial, was pretty relaxed and I did not feel scared of being hurt once I was there. The Spaniards are very quick to jump in the ring and play with the bulls, at least more than I am. That surprised me even more, but I have noticed that they live their lives to the fullest, at least more than Americans do, in my opinion. I look back at what our teacher, Pablo, said before we arrived to Spain: "Spaniards work to live, while Americans live to work." I never really understood what this meant until I got here. The idea that many people from The United States go to school, then college, then sometimes graduate school, preparing their entire lives to receive a fat paycheck at the end of the road, is a very different culture than in Spain. Here, people like to take their time to smell to roses, if you know what I mean. I feel like the mentality is more about enjoying the moment, now, than getting ready for the future and enjoying it later.
Friday, July 26, 2013
Hey all! We have been working hard these last few days and it's starting to show. We have begun to construct a new entrance to the church and it has been very rewarding for all of us to see the progress we have made. For most of us the last few days have been some of the hardest physically of this whole trip. We have been mixing concrete, laying bricks, and putting down rocks for the new entrance. It is incredible to see the construction of something out of nothing. Hopefully, we can continue to make progress and continue to connect with the community through service.
I think everyone agrees that this past week has flown by and I can't believe it's already the weekend! This week has consisted of long, hot days of building a new stone pathway, restoring frescos, hammering away at walls, and rebuilding the side of a house. I think the best part of the service has been working together with my friends, the leaders, and the townspeople to complete our tasks. We've also had a ton of fun! We have had Spanish and English discussions with some of the kids, learned how to do some Spanish dancing, taken daily siestas, and gone on some really cool excursions to local wineries and other places. I can't wait for our last couple of days in Spain, but I don't want to leave! My host family and the people in general have been wonderful, and this has definitely been one of the best experiences of my life.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Hola from España!
We've only been in Spain for a single week but we've already experienced so much. We've met so many amazing people, become comfortable with our host families, and have already made incredible headway with our service here in Nieva. Every day brings a new experience to the program, whether it's a new type of food or a trip to a new landmark.
Yesterday we went to the Castillo de Coca, and while it was not our first excursion it was my favorite so far. I had been looking forward to touring the castles here in Spain since the very first time I saw our itinerary and it did not disappoint. Even from a distance the castle was beautiful. Up close, the view was astounding. We were all so excited as we toured the area surrounding the castle walls on our own and waited for our tour guide. Once inside the castle, we were able to visit many of the rooms on the different levels that contained untouched artifacts from the time when the castle was in use.
Every part of the castle was astoundingly beautiful and contained so many stories and so much history.
By the time we left, I had about 50 more pictures and knew more about Spain's history than I thought I would. I'm already excited for our next excursion.
For me, our time in spain has already been life changing. I'm learning to keep an open mind and by doing so, I'm learning so much each day. This trip has brought all of us here closer than I ever thought possible and I can already tell that life long friendships exist throughout the group. This has been the trip of a lifetime and is going by way too fast. Everyone here can vouch for the fact that we are all going to return home with hours of stories and a craving to return to Nieva at the next chance.
Siempre, Courtney Einterz
Spain continues to amaze me. On Saturday we went on an excursion to the Santo Domingo trails, saw the Santo Domingo church, and underground wineries or "bodegas" and took a cooking class. The church we saw in Santa Domingo was stunning. The alters were huge and you could tell how much love, dedication, as craftsmanship had been put into the detail in every structure. The way they were beautifully preserved also was a huge testament to the Spanish culture and their pride in their country.
The trail was unbelievable. The Spanish countryside is simply breathtaking. Looking out over the different plots of land seeing mountains in the distance is truly wonderful for a Midwestern girl like me. Standing on the rocks and traveling the trails made you stop and wonder about the many Spainards who had used these trails hundreds of years before gives you such a different perspective on the rich cultural history in comparison to life in the States.
The food here is absolutely amazing. As I write this blog we're learning how to make "pisto" and it's pretty cool to watch all of us American kids attempt to cook these traditional Spanish dishes. The bodegas we saw were sweet! Looking at the houses here you would have no idea that there are literally huge wineries under your feet. These people should've been in the Prohibition, they would've made a bundle from these underground gems.
Overall, being in Spain has been such an eye-opening experience. The people are so incredibly proud of their country and so welcoming I almost feel like family. Culture and history are an integral a part of everyday life and I feel so lucky to be immersed in it. Trust me, there's no better feeling than waking up and knowing that it hasn't been a dream, you're still in Spain.
~Mary Grace Morgese
This Saturday we all took an adventure to see the ancient petroglyphs and it was so interesting to see these ancient depictions of humans and animals. We passed many large boulders which each had multiple carvings on them. We then followed the path which lead to an ancient casa on the top of a hill which was beautiful. From the top we were able to see everything all the way out to the mountains. Afterwards, we visited an ancient romanesque church and the interior was probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. There were massive murals covering the walls and great displays of artwork. After our day in the town, we returned to Nieva to take our well deserved siesta. In the night the townspeople threw a party in the local bar for Julie and I because our birthdays were this past week. Everyone seemed to have an amazing time and all the townspeople were so friendly and fun to dance and talk with. It was a great cultural experience as well because they played both Spanish and American music so we were able to learn popular Spanish dances while we taught them our American dances. It was very funny and that was probably my favorite night on this trip so far. The townspeople and we have really connected and I cannot wait to see where these friendships lead to.
Yesterday (Sunday) we had another excursion to a beautiful church in a town called Santa Maria la Real de Nieva. Like the church from Saturday, it was stunning. There's so much architecture, history, art, and beauty to appreciate. On the floor of the church were various tombs of priests and nuns and various figures who were important in the church. Although I was taught not to step on graves, the feeling of being surrounded by such prominent figures in history of this town was very serene.
Afterwards we went to a castle in a city called Coca. It's one of the two only castles built with brick, and it was also gorgeous. It had a moat surrounding the perimeter of the castle as the first line of defense. Fun fact: Moats were never really filled with water, because the enemies could just swim up to the castle and that wouldn't be a very good defense strategy. The movies portray them that way because they fill up when it rains a lot. There was so much to see in the castle, and I wish I could go on and on forever. But words an pictures just do not do it justice.
I will say this, although I have really enjoyed and loved being in Spain, Saturday during our first excursion was the first time I truly appreciated being here. And Sunday in the castle I felt the presence of all the people that had been there before me. The history and the beauty is indescribable. I love it here, and I can't wait to see what the future holds!!