By Brittney Durbin
The past week was extremely busy, but definitely worthwhile, as all the activities were spectacular and undoubtedly nothing that I would see in good ol’ CoMo (aka Columbia, Mo.).
Although I had classes on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning, the real excitement began as I boarded a bus on Wednesday afternoon. Our CIEE group was off to this tiny town called Villena, where we had the opportunity to experience first-hand the festival of the Christian and Moors.
Once we arrived, our group leader told us that we would could go off and explore, but to be back by 8 p.m. to catch the bus back to Alicante.
My friends and I maneuvered our way through the crowds, stopping along the way to watch the parade.The costumes were extravagant, and the face paint alone looked like it took a long time to apply. It was something I never experienced before in my life, and was definitely something special to the culture of Spain, and specifically to the town itself.
As we continued on, we remembered that our group leader had mentioned something about a castle. Well, being typical Americans, obviously we had to find the castle and further explore the town.
All the streets of Villena looked the same. The only thing even remotely assisting us locationally was the sound of the parade. Normally, I would be frantic trying to figure out where I was, but this was one time that I was content with not knowing my exact location.
Because we did not have a map or a guide, we stumbled across the most beautiful aspects of the town, ranging from a quiet street that was decorated for the festivities, (as pictured to the right), or a father and son playing with pretend swords as if nobody else in the world existed.
As we continued to ascend to the castle, which, incidentally, was located at the top of this very large looking hill/mountainous thing, we saw the town from up above. It was spectacular, and something that I will most certainly never forget.
After stopping along the way for many a photo op, we FINALLY reached the castle! Unfortunately, it was under construction, so we were unable to get to the “tipy top,” but at least we made it that far.
Friday brought the last test in our intensive cycle Spanish class, but as a celebration we were able to go on a catamaran! I had never been on this type of boat before and felt apprehensive. Once I arrived at the harbor, my feelings did not get much better.
I sat on this net-looking device that was clearly secured, but since you could see the water underneath, I was slightly uneasy about seven other people squeezing onto it. Nevertheless, once the music started playing and the wind was whipping through my hair, those feelings seemed to disappear. At the end of the ride, I was grateful for the experience.
The next morning, I shopped at my first traditional outdoor market! It was nothing like the malls in the U.S. There were many, many tents set up with an assortment of goodies to purchase. Some had shoes, while others sold fruits and vegetables. Considering I am not one to eat my serving of leafy greens, I set out to find some good deals on my favorite things: shoes and clothes.
About two hours, and 35 Euros, later I left the market with two pairs of shoes, a dress, two rompers and sunglasses. I felt quite accomplished with my purchases, and despite getting lost on the way back home, I had an awesome day in Alicante.
As quickly as you read my post is about how fast that week felt for me. It’s hard for me to believe that I arrived three weeks ago. Some days it feels like it has been a blink of an eye, while other days it feels as though I have been here for months.
I hope to continue that feeling though, for this experience to not be gone so quickly, but for it to also not drag on like it did in the beginning.
On that note, I am off to enjoy the pool before my class.
Until next time!