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As my time here in Seville comes to a close, I am doing as many activities and new experiences as I can to distract my heart from the sadness it feels. On my last Friday night, I decided to see one last Flamenco show at La Caja Negra, a wonderful local bar that puts on shows twice weekly and has cozy seating to put the audience in a very intimate setting with the performers. The show was incredible, and though I have seen five in Spain already this last one was my favorite. The dancers had incredible emotion in their dancing and facial expressions, and the cantaor (singer) and tocaor (guitarist) were both incredibly talented. After the show I talked for over an hour with a few locals, reminding me of how friendly Sevillanos are and how easy it is to meet people here.

The next morning I went to Cádiz by myself and ended up making two amazing new friends from Italy! We took a walking tour with a local from Cádiz and were told all about the history of the city and how it is the oldest city in Western Europe. The beautiful Cathedral is right on the water and it has a fantastic view of the city and ocean from the top, as well as of the more than 100 watchtowers left over from the time when the Spanish Navy occupied the port in the 16th Century. I visited the Castillo de Santa Catalina, walked along the shore and watched people surfing in wetsuits, went to the Mercado Central for tapas, and visited the Castillo de San Sebastian which is surrounded by water and has a giant lighthouse one can visit. Afterwards, I watched the most gorgeous sunset with my new friends. Even with a full day in the city I could have used more time to explore. I will definitely come back to Cádiz when I return to Europe!

On Sunday, I decided to explore outside of Seville, and went with “We Love Spain” to the towns of Ronda and Setenil. I was a bit worried about going alone, but on the bus I instantly made friends with a Norwegian girl named Eugene. We explored the breathtaking town of Ronda together, and we did a small hike to get a spectacular view of a waterfall flowing through the giant El Tajo gorge with the Puente Nuevo bridge spanning the gorge’s width. We also visited the Plaza de Toros, the oldest bullring in Spain, and were in awe of its history and beauty. After exploring Ronda we went to Setenil, where the hilltop castle was once an Arab fortress and the houses literally are built into rock! It was lovely exploring the town’s narrow and winding streets on which shops were selling chorizo sausage and cerdo pork from pigs bred in surrounding hills. It was truly an incredible day of beauty and new friends!

On Monday after Spanish class, my friend Eli and I went for a walk and out for dinner in downtown Seville. There is always something new and interesting going on in the city, and we saw many talented street performers as well as the Christmas lights adorning buildings and streets. After watching an incredible sunset from the Triana bridge we went to dinner at my favorite restaurant where we ate goat cheese salad, croquettes, and, of course, Iberian ham. One street performer was even doing tap dancing on a small platform and when he saw me following along he invited me up to dance with him! Nights like these are always going to have a special place in my heart, just like Seville will always be a second home to me, and my heart both breaks at the thought of leaving and flutters at knowing that I will always be able to return to Seville. The family, friends, and memories that I have made here will be with me forever, and all I can say is I love you Seville!