Students are all trying out their Spanish and learning new expressions. They are beginning to feel more comfortable with the Spanish culture and meal times at 9:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., and a light snack around bedtime. In Spanish-speaking cultures, the main meal of the day is around 2-4:00 p.m.
A tentative schedule for next week is as follows:
Sunday--Church service at the mission in Aranjuez; in Madrid: Plaza de las Cibeles, shopping at Desigual store--students asked to go shopping. :)
Monday--visiting the cities of Segovia and Avila. Segovia is a UNESCO world heritage city with its impressive Roman aqueduct that dates back to the times of Jesus. This high aqueduct is held together by gravity without any mortar. Also, in Segovia one can visit the Alcazar. Disney modeled its castle (at the outset of any Disney motion picture) after this castle. But the Alcazar is rather famous worldwide, because this is the place where the Queen Isabel met with Christopher Columbus prior to the discovery of the Americas.
Tuesday--visit of the city of Toledo. This city is even older than the aqueduct. It is truly a medieval city built upon the vestiges of three former cultures that first built in its place: the primitive Iberian tribes, then the Moorish from northern Africa, then the "Christians" in medieval times. Its access is through a drawbridge. Fortunately, there are no longer crocodiles under the bridge! Toledo is also famous for its cutlery. Here were made the swords and knives that Spanish soldiers have used for centuries all over the word. For those who can afford it, a hand-made technique called Dasmaquinado engraves intricate designs in gold over carbonized steel on sword handles and other souvenirs.
Wednesday-–Also beyond Madrid, visit to El Escorial monastery, site of Roman Catholic scholar monks over the centuries.
Thursday--Soccer day! A visit to the stadium Santiago Bernabeu. Since half of the students play soccer at Trinity, and since Spain is currently the soccer world champion, this will be a nice activity for the students. In addition, after the stadium, the Trinity soccer players will play a friendly match with local Aranjuez students at 2:30 p.m. local time. Thursday they will go to a hotel in Madrid to spend the rest of their time.
Friday--Visit to Reina Sofia museum, which holds the famous Picasso painting “El Guernica.” To finish the night, they will go out for Tapas, Spanish snacks.
I just received a Skype call from my wife and had a chance to greet the students. They are at the VIPs restaurant in Madrid having an afternoon coffee. They were just done visiting the Thyssen Museum (http://www.museothyssen.org/en/thyssen/home), one of the best museums in Madrid. They look well and in good spirits, all smiles. Today is a holiday (Dia de Reyes) in Spanish-speaking countries. In Madrid there are street parades for children and their families.
Have a great Dia de Reyes!
Professor Mauricio Nava D.
I just wanted to give you some context of the city where your students are staying. Aranjuez is southwest of Madrid. It is easy to go into Madrid by train or bus. Aranjuez is a small, picturesque town amidst a rural setting. The countryside is surrounded by vineyards and olive trees. Aranjuez is the place where the Spanish Royal family retreats. They have a "humble" getaway (a castle) there. The streets are quiet and pretty much everyone knows everyone. One curious thing is that streets are not paved with industrial cement, but with mason tiles!
It is easy to see houses adorned with clay tiles on the roofs as well. "Churros con chocolate" is a delicious thick, dark chocolate dessert with pastry and sugar so great to the taste buds but so bad to the waist line! But don't worry; our students will do their fair share of walking. People there walk several miles a day.
Our friends in Aranjuez run a mission: it is a Christian church that meets on the ground floor of a three-story building. On the ground floor, services are held on Sundays. Sunday evenings families that attend church return to celebrate each others' birthdays, etc. It is indeed more than a church, but a true Christian family. The mission also has a gym open to the public (led by a former Mr. Spain), and a coffee house, also open to the public. Last time I was there, they were offering a program on Christian music education for aspiring worship leaders in Spain and Latin America. Your students are staying in the upper floor student apartments. They are in good hands.
Professor Faith Marie