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One Down, One to Go: The 7th in Salamanca,

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. 

They 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.
 

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