I rang in 2015 with a couple of friends in A Coruña and we went to a couple of bars in and around the beach that night. It was one of the best New Year’s Eve/Day celebrations I’ve ever had but the celebrations continued a few days later. In Spain (and a few other countries), they celebrate the Epiphany (or the coming of the Three Kings or los Reyes Magos) and that day is always January 6th. Most children all around the country wait for the Three Kings to visit their house the night of the 5th and put gifts in their shoes or in their room. To an outsider, the holiday may seem like a second Christmas and it is in some respects. A lot of children are more excited about Reyes than they are Christmas Day – it’s true!
|Roscón de Reyes in all its glory – with a hidden king figurine and bean inside!|
However, the Three Kings Day has its own traditions that make it distinct from Christmas. One of those traditions is to watch a parade
of floats from local organizations and see volunteers dressed up as the Three Kings (insert names here) throw out candy for children and adults alike to catch and enjoy. Before my friends and I found a good place to watch the parade, we picked up some chocolate covered churros to enjoy while we waited. And then the following day, I went to the pastor and his wife’s house to enjoy the traditional dessert of the Three Kings (sweet brioche roll with a sugar garnish) with hot thick chocolate. It’s no wonder why I got sick that month but thankfully during the middle of the month, I made a vow to eat less sugar for the rest of 2015. Surprisingly I stayed true to that vow for the majority of the year (minus holiday and birthday celebrations) and I’m really proud of that!
with gale force winds (similar to a tropical storm where you will indeed get blown off the sidewalk if you’re not careful, haha)
always bring a lot of wind into the area along with a lot of rain. You know, the kind of rain that will last all day and all night.
|Some cities even look more beautiful in the rain I’ve learned….|
have brought tremendous wind and rain but I didn’t expect this. The air during a temporal or ciclogénesis is warm but the hail is so cold and if it hits you just right, it can almost cut through your skin like a sharp knife. (Or hit you smack dab in the middle of your face if you don’t properly take cover as you walk up a hill in it, haha)
|Rain is still rain though – and it’s often rained on me a lot here!|
abroad last year. It was full of cultural and linguistic experiences and a special visit from my older brother!
Spring had also finally arrived to rainy Northern Spain. The trees were starting to sprout new leaves, flowers began to bloom and birds began to stick around longer and sing us melodic songs in the mornings. And, for my brother’s sake, most of the month was sunny and dry. Except the afternoon we finally were able to go see the castle in Coruña it poured down rain. What made things worse was that we had to fight with nature to try and save our respective umbrellas from the cruel and gusty winds.
|Luckily he had plenty of Spanish and Portuguese coffee to keep him warm||(and alive)!|
Nevertheless, we survived and had a great time together, save for one little argument in the middle of the historic center of Toledo. 😛 One of the best times during that month for me personally was being able to act as an interpreter and translator for my brother in the beautiful and charming city of Oporto, Portugal. (It was the second visit for me but the first one with nothing but rain and cloudy weather!) Thank God he already spoke
Spanish and didn’t need much help in Spain. Whew…
Spanish. Meaning: over there
|In Córdoba in front of a restaurant with an exceptional name (¨translation: go over there, way over there!)|
I started the month of April off in the Central and Southern parts of the country. It was actually the second month in a row that I was in the
enchanting region of Andalucía, where my love affair with this country first began.
|Whenever I miss the south I make or go order a traditional breakfast like this one:
tostas (toast) with tomate (pureed tomato) and olive oil with tea and fresh squeezed orange juice.
Thousands of international students come to Sevilla and the rest of the region to study each year. Not everyone –foreign or national—can understand the way the locals speak, let alone learn how to speak Spanish well but I was one of the fortunate ones who succeeded. I originally thought the accent was ugly and that the Andalusians had a lisp but I changed my tune after I met some of the most wonderful people from different parts of Sevilla and Andalucía. The accent suddenly became beautiful to me the more I spent time with those beautiful people. It’s funny how quickly opinions can change in a such a short period of time.
|Now English speakers can understand a little bit of what this wonderful part of Spain says!|
|This rose garden reminded me of the roses that would bloom in
my mother’s flower beds at my childhood home. 🙂
April brought thousands of rain drops (en abril aguas mil) in Galicia but we all reaped the benefits later on in May. The
weather was fantastic and flowers were blooming everywhere – especially in the
rose garden at my school that year.
|I also made it to my first ever soccer (football) game and saw Real Deportivo play
(and save their spot in their league). 😛
I also personally had one of the best surprise trips of my life that month. And it involved visiting a friend’s church (which I had originally
thought was only his grandparents’ church) one random weekend in a nearby city. The weekend three friends and I visited the thermal baths in Ourense for the first time was the weekend for Mother’s Day in Spain, the baptism of an English language assistant at the church and part of a four day weekend for us working in Coruña. And to top it off, I met an old friend of my Galician friend in the States and surprised the pants off him when I dropped my friend’s name at a lunch we were invited to. As much as I want to chalk it all up to coincidence, I can’t bring myself to that conclusion. It truly was an amazing –albeit short—and culturally enriching weekend. I couldn’t have orchestrated a better weekend and I know that it was only through God working behind the scenes that it happened.
Funny thing is, when my friend and I entered the church, I was nervous that everyone there only spoke Galician, including the pastor. And
my other nagging thought was that, “What kind of impression will I make on my friend’s grandparents if I can’t even speak their language?” I was really worried for nothing but the name of the church was indeed in Galician so what’s a guiri (foreigner) supposed to think?
|Does this look fun or crazy to you?…|
The month of June ushered in some fantastic weather and a couple of opportunities for me to travel around Spain. And it was also the month that cities all around Spain celebrated the infamous Dia de San Juan. I personally had been hearing about it all school year from teachers, friends, church members, shop keepers, my students, random people who struck up conversations with me (or vice versa) – you name it: anyone who had
seen it at least once before took it upon themselves to spread the word.
think so, haha.
|It was fun to jump over a little fire myself for good luck – as a part of the festival’s tradition|
big party. However, they do get a little bit of help from the animal kingdom. What I did not realize was that the day after San Juan is a smorgasbord for any seagull within flying distance of the region. I didn’t see all of the seagulls feasting on all the “deliciously” disgusting trash that party-goers had left but I saw the thousands of tiny little seagull footprints that were left behind. It was quite a sight to see the beaches all lit up with the bonfires but it was equally impressive to see the party cleaned up the next day. What I really didn’t like on either day was that the entire city filled up with smoke from the bonfires and it took a full day for it to exit the city.
|I also paid a visit to the city where I would be moving to for the next school year –
Santiago de Compostela 🙂
shall see what happens!