This month began with a trip to Jerez de la Frontera and Bolonia beach (Cádiz) that included a sherry wine cellar tour and tasting and an afternoon beach trip. I had neither heard of nor tried sherry wine ever before the trip, but there was certainly something for everyone in the variety of different tastes and styles we tried. We learned about the amazing history of wine production in Andalucía and had a little taste of Spain’s well-established industry. The beach itself was beautiful and gave our group a chance to hike the tallest sand dune in the country, which we most definitely conquered. It also gave us our first, distant view of the Moroccan mountains we would find ourselves in two weeks later.
The next weekend, I joined a group of girls from school on an impulse trip to Ibiza. Daily burgers, late nights and renewing beach naps is the best way for me to describe that weekend. Getting back to Sevilla at 11pm to make it to a 9am class the next morning was less than stellar, but I wouldn’t take that weekend back for anything. It was the ultimate girls trip. We shared a lot of laughs, overcharged cab rides, glitter make-up, and some 1pm breakfasts.
You’d expect a trip to Ibiza would call for some time off afterwards, but not for me. The next week Spain celebrated its Hispanic Heritage Day which I used as a quick trip to Gran Canaria for another little island break. I adored the city, waves, slow pace, and green mountains of the island. It was truly one of my favorite trips I have ever had and it was such a shame it was only three days! But if there’s one thing I have learned about European travel, it’s to take advantage of any three days you can get in a new place because there is truly not a minute to waste.
That thought process is also what is keeping me from burning out right now. As tired as I am, as much as all this travel money could be saved for something else, I am here now, in a place that I never expected to be in even a year ago. I will sleep when I go home for the holidays. I will save when I am back to my home school with more time to work. Right now, these moments are fleeting and precious and I’d be a fool for going home wishing I had made more of my time abroad.
On that note, our school traveled to Morocco the next weekend. What a trip it was. The second we touched Africa, we were on our way to ride camels. I can’t say I care for their smell, but there wasn’t much else to complain about in that moment. That afternoon, we walked through the city of Tangier, a culture shock of its own, with remarkable street markets and kittens crawling at your feet. We spent the next day in the blue city of Chefchaouen, or the “Labyrinth city” as our guide called it. Remarkable doesn’t even cover everything that city held, although my personal highlight was learning to haggle (which we did quite well at if you ask me). And that isn’t even to mention Giada and Joel’s (mock) wedding that evening, completed with henna and a lot of couscous!
I’m starting to realize that writing each of these events down makes them feel so much more surreal. I mean, I try to call my parents regularly to tell them all that has happened, but now I am realizing that it would take days to pick apart all these stories, and some of them are so crazy that I have a hard time believing them, even knowing that I lived them.
The next weekend, our school group split apart some of us going to Barcelona, and a few others and me going to Palma de Mallorca. Our goal was to relax from all the chaos (very fun chaos) of the past few weeks. Mission accomplished. But once again, I found myself wishing for more time in another place I only had three days in. I guess it’s going on the list of places I have to go back to one day.
The day after we returned was Halloween. Oh boy. What a wonderful night in town we had, starting off at a lovely pizza party with our Professor Vina and her son visiting from England. We even brought Professor Vina out into town with us later in the night because we were having too much fun with her. Even though we barely made it anywhere through the packed streets, it was a great Halloween for the books!
I don’t think I have ever felt more alive than when I am in a new city that I know nothing of, even the language. Realizing that there are so many little bubbles around this world, each with their own culture, morals, lifestyles, and years’ worth of history to learn. I know now that I cannot learn everything, no matter how hard I try. I cannot hop off a plane and expect to be an expert of that city by the time I leave. What I can do is pick my favorite little pieces that I find there and carry them with me, in memories, pictures, and thoughts. With a little over a month left in Spain, I hope these last few weeks bring just as much impulse, chaos, beauty, and wonder.