I got really lazy about posting the last month, sorry!
The past month or so has been normal, but fun. About a month ago, during the second half of Feria, I went to Galicia to hike three days of the Camino de Santiago, and I loved it so much that I’m going back this summer! But more on that later.
Some random things that have happened the past month:
I went to a music festival! It was really fun, and one of the bands (the one in the video) I was actually really looking forward to seeing. What I didn’t know ahead of time, however, (although I should have guessed) that even the concerts are on Spanish time. I thought it was going to be during the day…in fact the first bands started playing at 11pm and the concert lasted literally all night. It was a surreal experience, because it was literally the middle of the night in the middle of a field, and yet, everyone was full of energy. Some things about Spain will never cease to amaze me.
I went to my first soccer game! It was a friendly, Spain vs Bolivia. Everyone is gearing up for the world cup so that’s why there are games with countries playing one another. I think there was a USA vs Turkey game in New Jersey around the same time. I learned a lot of rules, got to see some really good players/moves, and got to shout “GOOOOOOOOOOOL” along with thousands as Spain easily won the game. Spaniards have mixed feelings about the patriotic use of their flag, tied to the Franco days, but one place where the flag is always flying is at a fútbol game. It was a great experience. This video was taken right after one of the goals.
I went to El Rocío to see the Virgen del Rocío, o Nuestra Señora del Rocío. I know it’s hard to imagine, but as I’ve mentioned before, loyalty to different Virgins runs deep in Spain, and this one is particularly special. In the town of El Rocío once a year, there is a pilgrimage by roughly a million people to come see the Virgin. This is called the Romería de El Rocío. Pilgrims make their way from all over Spain (and beyond), mostly traveling on foot, in carts, or on horseback to arrive in El Rocío. The environment is a cross between Semana Santa and Feria, obviously it is a religious pilgrimage, but the environment is very festive. The family of the girl I teach English to goes every year, as the mother is from El Rocío and they have a house on the main street and thus can see all of the processions as they enter town. Side note- El Rocío the town reminds me of a Wild West movie – the town doesn’t have any concrete streets, the streets are all dirt! It was really interesting. Each time a hermandad entered, someone would announce over the speaker something like “Congratulations to _____ Hermandad for arriving en El Rocío. Long live the Virgen del Rocio! Long live the white dove! (another name for the Virgen)” with shouts of “Viva! Viva!” from the crowds. Larger carts were pulled by huge oxen, but there were also carts pulled by 5-6 burros, people riding horses, women riding horses in dresses, thousands of people walking…it was a people watcher’s dream! People also dress in flamenco dresses for El Rocío, although I passed this time around. I spent the day admiring the hermandades, the dresses, eating/drinking, and going to the church to see the much-loved Virgen. It was definitely a unique event.
My roommates threw me a surprise party! I was supposed to hang out that night with my friends Leticia and Shannon, so I went to meet up with them near Leticia’s apartment. Since we were so close, Leticia convinced me to come grab some stuff that I had left there the last time. When we got there, she presented me with a mini present- a paper she had made with pictures of us on the front and a really heartfelt note on the back. She also brought a bottle of really nice wine from her parents to my parents. Leticia is from La Rioja, which is the most famous region for wine in Spain. Then, they convinced me to swing by MY apartment on the way to the center of the city to drop off the wine. I didn’t want to carry it around all night, so I agreed. When I walked in, it was oddly dark, and the set of doors into our living room was closed, which alone is a reason for suspicion. When I opened the doors, my roommates shouted “surprise!” It was honestly the most thoughtful thing. They had signs saying “we will miss you” and “we love you” and made me a poster with a picture of each of them with me and a heartfelt note under. They had food and drink as well. The part that got me is that they made sure I could eat most of it, meaning only one pizza had ham on it, and one of my roommates said to me about the vegetable pizza, “I know you don’t like olives so I picked them off.” Seriously, how did I end up with such an amazing group of girls! I am going to miss them a TON.
Well, I’m off to Paris tomorrow. My travel plan was very up in the air before, but going to Galicia in May solidified it. Even doing three days of the camino was an amazing experience. For those who don’t know, while the French Way is the most popular, there are something like 10 different caminos that all end up in Santiago, where supposedly the remains of St. James are buried. When I went in May, I did part of the Camino Inglés, or the English Way. It was very uncrowded, but I met some great people. The first night in an albergue with the 7 or so other people on the camino solidified it for me. Two Slovenians, two Italians, three Spaniards, and me. Somehow we made it work, although the Italians and Slovenians didn’t know too much Spanish, while the Spaniards didn’t know too much English. Still, great bonds were made. Three days just wasn’t enough for me. So basically, here is what I am doing with the rest of my summer –
I’m going back to Paris again to visit Emma, and this time around it’ll be more fun because I’ll be able to take my time and not worry about fitting everything in. I’ll be there for around 5 days, then I’m going to Rennes, with one day spent visiting Mont Saint Michel. From Rennes I am going to Nantes, then Bordeaux, then back to Spain to visit San Sebastian and Pamplona. From there, I am going to visit Leticia in her home town of Haro, La Rioja. Followed by one night back in Bilbao (it’s on the way, and I loved it the first time) and from there to Oviedo. From Oviedo, I will be hiking the Camino Primitivo for two weeks, which is said to be one of the most difficult, but one of the most beautiful, caminos. I will arrive in Santiago and a few days later, July 14th, will fly back to Seville. From Seville, I will be going to a beach town in Huelva for two weeks with the family of the girl I teach English to. Her parents want me to spend two weeks with them in a sort of immersion environment, as if I don’t know any Spanish, speaking only in English, playing games in English, watching TV in English… etc, because Clara (although she is only 13) is spending next semester in Ireland. That will be fun and will also replenish my bank account. From there, I’m back in Sevilla for a few more days then finally, back home.
I’ll be busy and without a computer for the next month or so, but maybe I’ll be able to figure something out. See ya!