Over the past month or so that I’ve been blogging, I’ve done my best to try to relate to you my experiences, my struggles, and my excitement while on my Journey of Spanish Awesomeness. But sometimes, like this morning, I find myself in a place nearly too incredible for words. As I was walking back to my flat from my French class this morning, basking in the glorious Mediterrannean sun while listening to Latino dance music, I felt so alive and free that I didn’t know if I could even begin to describe it in words. However, I promise to you that I will do my very best to tune your senses to the highlights of my life lately here in Valencia. Here goes…
On Sunday the province of Valencia celebrated el Dia de la Comunidad Valenciana, a festival that has something to do with the Moorish and Christian influence in Valencia as well as Valencia’s rich, unique heritage. The streets were filled with men, women and children, all awaiting the fireworks to come. Actually it was more like what you would expect to hear during World War III all packed into one city plaza and all in 5 minutes. I think my eardrums are still resentful toward me because of what I put them through. But it almost reminded me of the 4th of July (but not quite; we still win in the patriotic field). Everywhere I looked the streets were filled with the red, yellow and blue colors of the Valencian flag, some new and crisp while others proudly showed the love and pride of many a year. As in several other Spanish communities, the people of Valencia are fiercely protective of their individual heritage and culture that often goes unnoticed to many under the umbrella of the Spanish nation.
Tomorrow Spain celebrates el Dia de la Hispanitat, a celebration of Columbus’s discovery of the Americas (anyone looking for a reason to skip work or school, you need not look further). So I plan to fill my class-free day tomorrow with a little extra sleep (which will be much needed after salsa dancing tonight), a visit to the incredible Biblioteca Valenciana, a cooking lesson in which I will learn how to make paella, and a friend’s birthday party to top it off. If there’s one thing Spain knows how to do well, it’s celebrating.
My spanish language ability has steadily been improving, though not in the manner I had initially expected it to. For some reason, I first had an image in my mind of what the process would be like. It looked like a nice little container, like an oil tank, which would carry all of my “language liquid”. The gauge in the front would accurately inform me of my current status, my progress, and when I could expect to be completely full to the brim. The act of learning would be as simple as cracking open a quart of oil and steadily pouring it into the tank. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There is no clear gauge to give me a hard measurement of the amount of language improvement I have ingested, and there is no set capacity in which I will be completely learned in the Spanish language. Instead, I have found that it is more like training for a marathon. Every time I run, I still struggle and find myself fighting to the very end. Sometimes, it seems never ending, but then i look back at my initial time and compare it to my current and I realize I have a new Personal Best! And so I continue on in my training, knowing that every time I accidentally turn a “let’s hang out” into a “wanna hook up?” brings me that much closer to mastering the language.
A friend and I are making a trip to Seville, Spain at the beginning of next month, which I’m really looking forward to! Seville is in Andalucia, southern Spain, which is where all of the traditional spanish culture resides. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about after that.
Last week my design studio class took a field trip to our project site, a town called Requena. Our project for the semester is to design a winery in an existing building. But the cool part is that there’s a FREAKING CAVE BELOW!!!! I can’t say I’ve ever designed in a cave, so this an awesome opportunity to expand my architectural horizons.
Well, class is calling now. Get to go learn about how three rivers in Valencia and Columbia helped form the city. As I leave, let me throw some wisdom your way: Don’t wait for a world-class, high cost trip or adventure to make your life memorable. Enjoy each moment and you’ll have a lifetime full of world-class experiences. Hasta luego amigos.