This blog entry is adapted from a letter I just received from Tour Leader Dr. Gilbert:
The boys had a tremendous
first week, capped off by a wonderful weekend. On Friday, the 7th graders
played indoor soccer, or "futsal" with a group of local students and
really enjoyed seeing how their skills compared to the faster paced
play of the local Spaniards. One of their baseball catchers even volunteered to cover the net and
made 2 out of 4 possible saves!
Yesterday and today were special days as the group traveled to Segovia, Avila, Ledesma, and Arribes del Duero in Portugal.
Early Saturday morning, some of the boys joined in for the classic
churros & chocolate treat from Graci's around the corner from the
residence. They then headed off to see the aqueduct and the Alcazar
(castle) of Segovia. Their guide was so entranced by the boys' curiosity
and great listening skills that she accompanied them into the castle to
continue sharing her expertise on her own time.
The group then split up in
cohort groups to enjoy a Segovian lunch at different points in the
city. This combined with some souvenir shopping made it possible for the
boys to practice their burgeoning language skills with the locals.
capped off the end of the day with a walk around the town of Avila,
visiting the reliquary of St. Teresa (boys especially enjoyed seeing her
finger complete with ring). They finished by marching along a kilometer
of the medieval wall that still surrounds the city. The boys imagined hot oil
and archers beside them as the enemy approached and just what it would
take to want to mount an attack on such a structure.
By evening, the group had
tasted cinnamon almond cookies typical of the area and stopped for their
group photo at the four posts where it is said that St. Teresa kicked
the dust of Avila off her sandals as she was leaving town, in disgust,
because the locals refused to support her work in founding a new order.
Today, the group began its day with a tour of the medieval city of Ledesma,
where tragic histories & black legends abound. It was fascinating
for the boys to see the whole town on the outskirts celebrating the
running of the bulls (many towns celebrate their own version of
Pamplona's more well known one on the feast of their patron saint).
After a tour of the different Christian, Jewish, and Muslim quarters, the boys
paused for a classic "tortilla de patata" made by the local restaurant
freshly for them! Many of the boys are now converts to this delicious,
ubiquitous Spanish food.
The afternoon was spent picnicking in Miranda
do Douro, Portugal which gave us a wonderful view of the gorge canyon we
were about to travel on a boat. With a sports break and a newly
discovered water ball game, the boys ended up having lots of fun. After their tour on the ferryboat, the boys were treated to a showcase of birds
of prey including 3 different types of owls, a gyrfalcon, a bald eagle, a
royal eagle, and 2 types of vultures. Many were able to hold the
creatures and have their picture taken.
Some of the boys have been heard speaking to each other in Spanish in
the dormitory and the teachers rejoice in how eagerly they share what they have
learned in our ticket game--the group plays cultural Q & A with raffle
tickets for a souvenir raffle on the last day.
Tomorrow, the 7th graders will visit the
market where they will be in charge of purchasing the ingredients for a
paella we make at the school on Tuesday night.