BIENAVENTURADA

Spain is so beautiful. Not in a local charm, only certain types of people will appreciate it type of way. It’s beautiful in a stop and stare, can’t  wrap your mind around it, there are no words to explain it kind of way. The buildings, the people, the food, the history; just all of it. There have been so many moments this past week that have made me acutely aware of this fact. For memory’s sake, I’m just going to go through a couple of them.

1. This week I’ve been trying to walk around Granada more to explore the different areas of the city. As we’ve been learning more about the history of Granada and Spain, I’ve found it really interesting to see how the history of this town can be seen in it’s architecture. Granada is an amazing mix of European, Arab, and Islamic influences. Before being conquered by Isabel and Ferdinand (Los Reyes Católicos), Andalusia (the region that Granada is in) was under the control of the Muslim Nasrid Empire. After being conquered, the Muslim and Jewish residents of Granada were forced to convert to Catholicism and accept the reign of Isabel and Ferdinand. As the Catholic rulers took over the city, they converted many preexisting buildings for their use. Walking around Granada, its interesting to see the Islamic influences in the older Catholic churches, especially through the use of ceramic tiles and certain engravings.

2. On Saturday my roommate and I went to the beach. Even though we missed the bus to the beach we had wanted to go to, we still ended up in the beautiful town on Almunecar. We spent the day laying in the Spanish sun, exploring the town a bit, and swimming in the Mediterranean. Unlike the frigid waters of the Oregon Coast, the Mediterranean was nice and tepid; a little chilly at first touch, but warm enough that you can float around in it without loosing sensation in your limbs.  Learning from the actions of few Spaniards, I  realized that the best way to get into the water was to run at it at full speed and dive into a wave. While I’m sure I looked a little crazy, it  was a lot of fun.  Before we headed back to Granada, we hiked up to a cross that had been built on top of a cliff overlooking the beach. From here you could see the whole town and look out onto the sea. Floating in the sea while staring up at the white-washed buildings of Almunecar and standing on top of that cliff, looking off into what seemed like oblivion, were two near perfect moments.

3. Sunday was an important Fiesta in Granada (fiesta in this case means festival or celebration). In honor of the Patron Saint of Granada, La Virgen de las Angustias, hundreds of people flock to the Basilica every September on this day in order to bring flowers in offering to la Virgen. In the afternoon, the Basilica opens it’s large front doors, places the ornate statue of la Virgen in the front of the church, and arranges all of the offered flowers on the walls outside of the church. It was amazing to see the procession of people wrapping around the block and the process of filling the walls with flowers. Earlier in the day I brought some roses to the church in honor of my Nana, Rosemarie.

On a slightly different note, this week is going to be crazy busy at school. As our intensive language and grammar class comes to a close, I have a test on Thursday, Friday, and Monday. So, I’ll be taking a short break from exploring in order to study and learn some verb tenses and Spanish history. My homesickness is subsiding and I’m starting to feel more at home here. The days are flying by and I’m trying to get the most out of them.

I’m beyond blessed.

Un abarzo,

Elizabeth

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