“Mejor es tener una oveja que no tener nada”

It’s better to have a sheep than not have anything. That was my favorite line of the play that we went to see this week: La casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda Alba). It was kind of an intense play about a dominating mother who has five daughters that she won’t let leave the house because they are in mourning for their father. Of course, this means that the girls are absolutely boy crazy and three of the daughters are in love with the same boy. Thus, madness ensues. The above quote comes from the grandmother who is trying to escape from the house to get married… and have sheep as children.

Monday for FHE we went on this crazy scavenger hunt in Alcalá where we met “Cervantes”, wrote the most ridiculous poem about a hedgehog, and danced in the main plaza for everyone to see. Yep, we’re those Americans in Spain… and they love it!

Tuesday we finally got the chance to go to the Roman ruins close by. Alcalá was once a Roman city called Complutum, so there are some ruins from the youth club house and from the forum of the city. You can see where there were houses and the public baths. It was super fascinating. There was also this mosaic which I´m pretty sure I´ve seen in my art history books. It was a lot of fun to be so close to that history. The guy in charge showed us a gold piece that they found there from that time. That was actually super awesome.

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Ok, story time: so last week when we were in Toledo, we saw patches and patches of poppies. As Toledo was also a Roman city at one point, my roommate Karisa decided that the poppies grew where the Romans had died, getting their red color from the blood (a little morbid, I know, but also kind of a nice sentiment). Well, that story was thought to be a Spanish urban legend by several friends. It wasn’t until we were at Complutum on Tuesday that they realized that Karisa had made it up. Haha. Though of course, now we see poppies everywhere!!!! Lots of battles going on:)

Wednesday was a pretty momentous occasion. We went to the Reina Sofia Museum and saw Picasso’s “Guernica”. It is pretty breathtaking. There are so many details that are hard to see just pictures. And while the Cubism makes it a little hard to follow, the message is pretty clear. For those who aren’t sure what it looks like, here you go:

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It shows the horrors of war while spreading a little bit of hope with the flower by the broken sword and the candle. It is pretty strong and the contrasts in the black and white are pretty impressive. It was incredible.

Thursday, we took a test (wait, this is a STUDY abroad?!). Friday we left for Salamanca, an old university town north of Madrid. We ate the most delicious desserts and tapas there, like this yummy chocolate roll:

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The tour guide showed us the old university buildings and the cathedral(s). There is an old one and a newer one which are right next to each other because they were supposed to be built into one. That didn’t happen, so now the two of them are used for different events and different days. The city was so beautiful at night. They have the streets and buildings lit up so well, and people stay up to enjoy the sights. In fact, there were guided tours still going on at midnight! We were also lucky because there happened to be a concert series going on in the main plaza. So even if I have to miss out on some of Provo’s rooftop concert series, I still got some music this weekend!

Today we left Salamanca for Valladolid which was absolutely beautiful. It’s the capital of the Castilla-Leon province. They are also very well-known for their floats that they bring out for Easter and for the museum of sculptures which was so cool. It was so amazing what they could sculpt using wood (either pine or walnut). One of the other cool things was this huge display of the birth of Jesus that was shown in a Naples-like city. It’s called a Belen napolitano, and it shows the nativity and the shepherds and the wise men among the bakers and butchers and musicians from the 1700’s. They were all hand-sculpted which was so amazing.

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Lunch was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. We went to a bodega (aka wine storehouse) where we ate the most delicious steak and salads and desserts, no wine though. It was absolutely incredible! And the atmosphere was so cool. It was called El Hilo de Ariadna (Ariadne’s Thread) which comes from the Greek myth about Ariadne, Theseus, and the Minotaur. Ariadne helped Theseus return from the labyrinth after killing the Minotaur with the help of a golden thread. They ran away together, but Theseus left Ariadne on an island where she was found by Dionysus, the god of wine, and they were married. Thus, the bodega was found about 20 meters below the ground (to control the wine’s temperature) and there were all sorts of winding passageways just like the labyrinth. It was definitely a highlight of the trip!

Well, time to sleep and start a new week. Hasta pronto!

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