Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Spain

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Sitting on a balcony thinking of nothing - Day Two

Victor Nava '10 - The day began at 9:00AM for us today (9:15 for some of us) as we all gathered at a local restaurant called El Museo de Jamón for a very simple Spanish breakfast. The food was amazing and the HAND SQUEEZED orange juice was by itself worth getting out of bed for. Afterwards, we looked at some vendors setting up in the Plaza Mayor who had numerous coins and Spanish documents on sale. Everything looked right out of an antique shop and many students spent a good while looking through stacks and stacks of pictures, paper, and other objects on display.

Following that was a short walk to the metro and a ride on the Madrid city train to the city of Alcalá de Henares which was located a good 35 kilometers northeast of Madrid. At first the town didn’t seem very interesting compared to the hustle and bustle of Madrid. However, the old architecture quickly gave way to the historical center of the city and the streets suddenly came alive with people. Our purpose of travel to this site was a visit to the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. However, we were also absorbed into the Spanish culture and spent much time as a group sightseeing and getting numerous lessons from both professors along the way. In particular, we visited a museum dedicated to the Spanish civil war and how numerous factors (such as the US arms embargo) contributed to the overall outcome. The museum itself was small in physical appearance but gigantic in information and mind stimulating knowledge. (The unfortunate thing is that it was around this time that BOTH batteries on my camera went out and I was unable to take any pictures past this point. I will however try and post some of the pictures from the other guys and give you an idea of what this museum looked like.)

Our visit to Alcalá finished, we boarded the train back to Madrid and each bought tickets for a double-decker tour bus of Madrid. I’ve never wished I had a working camera in my hands more than I did at the moment the bus started to move. I saw numerous sights including examples of historic Spanish architecture, modern buildings, statues, public artwork, and amazing views of entire streets that seemed to stretch for miles. I can’t really explain what this ride was like in other words besides: WOW. (I know, highly academic and inspired, but that’s seriously what was going though my mind at some of these landmarks.)

The day concluded after we got off the bus and broke off into groups for the rest of the afternoon/evening. I personally went back to the hostel, got changed, went out to dinner, and then did some more exploring of the streets of Madrid. Day two was just as good as day one. The best thing is that I am finally getting acquainted with the streets and feel much more comfortable going around to different places. Once again, the day included much walking but I can't complain.

I conclude by leaving you with the following narrative and once again say: ¡Buenas noches!

"I sit on the lonely balcony overseeing the once busy streets of Madrid. The people have all gone to bed; work comes in the morning. The cool night breeze brushes by in an effort to reach a destination that doesn’t seem to exist. Perhaps one day it will reach it.

The darkness has fallen on the busy city and buildings sit and linger within the shadows; quiet, patient, watching. In the sky, not a single star graces me with the glow of its temporary light. People walk by in the streets. Their voices drift high towards the balcony and reach me in harmonic fashion.

-- ¿Pero de qué estas hablando?

-- Oye, yo ya me voy para la casa.

-- ¿Nos vemos mañana?

Perhaps it is just random babbling but their words act as a reminder of the place I currently call my temporary home. Cars go by in the streets; one, two three. Perhaps they too have some non existent destination to arrive at? Who knows?"

** I just felt very inspired to write something in prose. I seriously am on a balcony overlooking a street in Madrid as I write this blog. The atmosphere here is quite enchanting.


Top left: Neil Monroe '08 and Dr. Gómez look at merchandise at the Plaza Mayor.

Middle right: Walking through the streets of Alcalá.

Bottom left: Group picture at the home of Cervantes.


Oye Victor, vais a pasar todo el viaje en Madrid? Espero que vayan a Barcelona también, sobre todo si estáis estudiando lo de la Guerra Civil. Allí encontrarás una perspectiva totalmente diferente de lo que ves en Madrid. Envíame un email (mespanman@yahoo.com) si vaís por allí porque tengo muchos contactos (mis suegros y su familia) que iguál pueden añadir algo. Mi suegro es administrador del sistema educativo y sabe TODO de la historia y cultura de España. ¡ Mucha suerte! –Jason Miller ‘01