Spain: Language & Leadership 2016
MEET YOUR SPAIN TRIP LEADERS!
Monica and Sarah here. We hope that you are getting excited for your upcoming Spain trip! We can’t wait to return to some of our favorite places in the world and experience them in new ways through your perspectives. Get ready to see many different sides of Spain, from the history and culture of Madrid, to the beauty of nature and sustainable living in Sebulcor and Amayuelas, to coastal life and environmental conservation in Valencia, to incredible architecture and Catalan culture in Barcelona. It will be an truly unique experience that not many visitors get to enjoy in Spain! Sarah will be leaving on Saturday to spend time in Madrid and Valencia preparing for the trip, and Monica will meet you all at the airport on the June 27th. Looking forward to meeting you all soon and starting this adventure!
The next day, we headed out to el Rio Duraton de la Hoz, where we hopped in piraguas (kayaks) and paddled down the river. The curvy river is aptly named after its shape, with “hoz” meaning sickle. We saw buitres, or vultures, all over the walls of canyon the river is in, nesting on the ledges and caves on the rock. Our guide taught us about the vultures and told us stories about the river and the ruins of the medieval convent that borders the river. After a long morning of rowing and a brief swim, we headed back to the bed and breakfast, where we had traditional Spanish paella and had a long, relaxing siesta before heading back out. We walked down to the town soccer pitch, where we played games in the shade before going back for dinner and another after-dinner walk.
For our final day in Sebúlcor, we walked out of town and to a trail, where we hiked to a shady little clearing by a river. We relaxed, playing cards, napping, and dipping our toes in the river until a lovely picnic of sandwiches and watermelon was delivered. After lunch, we had to cross the river to continue our hike, which proved to be a bit of a challenge for the shorter members of our group as we splashed through the freezing river. We hiked up the mountain, taking in the breathtaking views of the river below and the mountains that surrounded us. We hiked back down, the river crossing not quite as bad once we were all hot and bothered. We began the hot and sandy trek back into town, and after a quick ice cream, we all hopped into the bus on our way to Amayuelas.
We had our first day of community service in Amayuelas working in their garden or on a chicken coop. On the chicken coop, we put a mix of adobe on the lower half of the outside wall. It was a lot more fun than expected, because we threw the mud on to the chicken coop. In the afternoon, we learned the steps of bread making and that bread is made in 3 phases. The first phase is making the mother dough (masa madre) which is the active ingredient; phase 2, where we started, is combining masa madre with flour and water then rolling it into dough balls; phase 3 is cutting the proper amount of bread and putting it in a baking tray. We also made our dinner, which was pizza.
July 4, 2016
The Global Works 2 week Spain trip, which travels to cities in the south such as Granada and Sevilla, collaborates with a community called La Fundación Escuela de Solidaridad (aka FES) near Granada for their community service. This year two of our group members will continue from Barcelona to meet up with the 2 week trip and travel to FES! We were fortunate enough to have two members of the FES community, Mehdi and Desiree join us at Amayuelas for our community service. They came to work alongside our group, participate in language and culture exchange, while also learning about the work of the Amayuelas community so that they can take back new skills to FES.Although it was a short time with them, Mehdi and Desiree were very friendly and fun to hang out with. Mehdi was from Algeria and Desiree was from the Canary Islands. We participated in many activities with them, from making adobe bricks and fresh bread, to playing cards (which was very hard to explain) and just hanging out around the albergue (guesthouse). My favorite experience with Mehdi was playing soccer with him against the locals, mainly because he played professionally in his home country, and my favorite experience with Desiree would be making leather coin pouches and struggling in doing so. Although our time spent together was short, we feel it was well spent and was a memorable experience for all.On Thursday morning we packed up our luggage and said goodbye to the beautiful Amayuelas de Abajo. It was a long bus ride, a total of about 7.5 hours, and we stopped once along the way to eat some lunch. The drive was beautiful. We passed farms, mountains, and small towns along the way. Towards the end of the drive arrived the moment we had all been waiting for: homestay assignments. None of us could wait to get off the bus and meet our families. Finally, the bus let us off next to a beautiful square surrounded by gorgeous architecture where we met our host moms and were taken to our apartments. Of course, the homestay experience is different for everyone, as some Global Works students stay with a partner, or with a family with kids, or pets, and some don’t. One thing, however, was the same for everyone that Thursday night we all created bonds and connections with generous families who live in a completely different culture from ours.
July 8, 2016
Friday morning we woke up bright and early for our first day of service in Valencia. We were picked up by a bus and rode to the wetlands just south of the city. The first job our leader had us do was weed a patio. Not what we expected to do being so close to a more interesting service opportunity, but it was necessary. After we finished our first job we split up into groups to start the real work. Our group put four turtle traps in the swamps so later we could check the traps and get information on the well-being of the native turtle population. To do this, we strapped on waders and waded into nearly chest-deep, murky water and tied the traps to cane plants. Being inside those waders got really hot really fast! The other group collected water plants to relocated to another area of the wetland preserve.
We then had a much-needed, well deserved snack break and set out for our next project of the day. We took buckets of water and watered plants in a dry area. When that was finished we went to the beach! The water was warm and the waves were big. It was a perfect ending to our tough morning of service. We climbed back into the bus, clothes dripping, and went home for lunch and a siesta.
We met up again at 5:00 f0r a bike tour and another visit to the beach. Biking was great because not only did we get to see more of this beautiful city, but we looked so much like tourists that people we passed by cheered for us on more than 5 occasions. The beach was gorgeous, extremely crowded, and had every beach activity imaginable. We had a lot of fun tiring ourselves out there and biking back. We then walked back home, ate dinner and went to sleep.
July 9, 2016
July 9th was another day in Valencia. Everyone met up at the stadium for another amazing day. The air was hot and as we all walked to the market each of us were slowly getting sweaty and tired. Finally as we came to a stop we had a scavenger hunt ahead of us for the morning. We were all split into groups and were given a list of items to find in the market and a person to interview. Entering everyone had their minds set on winning. With looking each team came across some creepy looking dead animals that none of us enjoyed. The last part of interviewing was a challenge, but we all managed to ask locals certain questions in Spanish. At the end the winners received cool keychains. Next we all headed off for a little snack which was horchata, a sweet drink made from tiger nuts, and fartóns, a pastry which you dip in the horchata. Personally, it had somewhat of a different taste to it. After, we were treated to an hour of shopping and doing our own thing! The rest of the day was ours with family to enjoy and spend time with one another.
July 10, 2016
The next day was filled with adventure. We headed off to a kids camp and helped them make bird food. Later we played games with the cute kids. After the fun was over we headed off on a hike which was challenging, but worth the time. After we saw the water all we wanted was to be in it! We all loved the coldness and cave we went in, then headed back for another hot walk. Finally we arrived back and we headed off for another evening with our families.
July 11, 2016
After the full weekend we were back to work today. We worked at a new site called Tancat de la Pipa. This is a natural park where workers are constantly trying to restore the environment and decontaminate the water. We rode a barco (boat) down a canal collecting trash with nets as we glided by. After reaching the visitors center we had a snack and were able to witness bird ringing. This is when workers record wingspan and weight measurements and out acting around the leg of a bird to keep track of endangered species. On our way back we stopped on the canal to plant some aquatic plants to help prevent erosion. After a home cooked lunch with our families and a much needed siesta we were off to our flamenco dance class! Flamenco is a dance which originated in Andalucía. In just one short hour of instruction we were able to learn some traditional flamenco dance, including the styles tango and sevillanas.
After breakfast with our families we took the bus to the beach for community service work. Our job was to pull and take out a certain type of invasive plant. It was really hot, but we worked through the heat and ended up working for a few hours. After all that hard work we went to a nearby beach and jumped in the water. The water was amazing and warm. We ate our lunches our homestay families packed for us and played in the water. Then we went for a quick gelato and raced to the boat. We were a little late for it, but we made it! We sat out and relaxed on the boat. It was so pretty. Then they stopped the boat and let people go in the water. Some of us went or jumped in. It was scary at first, but felt amazing! Then we headed home to our host families for dinner.