Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Spain

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Final visions of La Mancha - Day Five

Victor Nava '10 - We departed from Campo de Criptana again early this morning. However, this time we weren’t coming back. The next stop on out tour of La Mancha was the town of El Toboso where Don Quixote’s “maiden” was said to be from by Cervantes. The whole relationship between Dulcinea and Don Quixote still confuses me a little when I come to terms that Dulcinea probably never even know who Don Quixote was. By the same token, Don Quixote’s distorted perceptions of reality greatly affected his view of Dulcinea which from the very beginning seem to confuse the reader. Overall, I felt that the entire trip was very helpful in understanding who and what Dulcinea represented in the story and brought her mysterious character into light.

However, before we can understand her as a character, we have to understand Cervates as a writer and that’s why we first made a visit to the Centro Cervantino which houses the largest collection of Don Quixote editions. I saw Cervantes’ writing displayed in multiple languages and even saw copies of the book autographed from everyone ranging from Hitler and Mussolini to Mandela and the Clintons. My next mission will be to return to Mexico and find a copy of the Quixote in otomi which is the native language of central Mexico. I had no idea how widespread this one novel was and now understand why it’s often time group in the same categories as Shakespeare.

Following our trip to the great collection of Cervantine work, we toured the “recreated” house of Dulcinea del Toboso. The house itself was very interesting though I must regret to say that I am not much of a history buff and can’t really capture what this experience was like. Overall, the entire tour of this house gave me a better perception of the timeframe that Don Quixote was set in and thus contributed to my perceptions of the work.

The trip rounded itself off with two trips that I personally found quite enjoyable. The first of which was a brief visit to the Castillo Peñarroya where we saw some of the most amazing scenery we have seen on this trip thus far. The lake was beautiful and the mountains in the background were beyond belief. I could have stood on that castle and looked around for hours. However, we had to keep going because our bus driver was under strict regulations and had to get back to Madrid at a certain hour. We quickly gathered into the bus and made our way to the Cuevas Montecinos where Cervantes envisioned Don Quixote having amazing visions and experiences. I can’t even remember the last time that I was in a cave and thought that this was a perfect contrast to the other kinds of trips we had done so far. Our interpretations of the Quixote had taken us to museums, towns, field, and even caves; talk about gaining a thorough understanding. The day concluded with us getting back on the bus and making a two hour trip back to Madrid.

This entire trip has done more than given me something to write about, it has given me a whole new appreciation for literature. One of the hardest things I had to overcome as a reader was the notion that the words on the page are as far as the literature go. This trip has literally made the book come to life for me. On one level, the trip has actually manifested itself in a physical form through the locations that I have visited. On the other, it has manifested itself in my imagination and perception as much more than just a book I was assigned to read for class; it has now become a piece of art that I hope to both learn about and interpret in my own fashion. Learning has taken on a whole new meaning.


Top left: The class enters the Centro Cervantino.

Top right: A view of Dulcinea's kitchen.

Bottom left: The view from Castillo Peñarroya.

Bottom right: Going into the Cuevas Montecinos.