Sunday, July 21, 2013

Greetings from Ciudad Real!
As hard as it is believe, we are already entering into our last days, here in Spain.  Consequently, the pace of our day to day life has begun to hasten.  This week, we have put special care and attention into the preparations for our farewell performance.  We want to try our best to create a final product that will demonstrate but a fraction of our gratitude for our host families, which have gone above and beyond to welcome their "sons" and "daughters" into their homes, as if real members of the family.

Here, Patrick, Mary Kate and Tommy rehearse Estudio en blanco y negro, a mid century Cuban piece that demonstrates the arbitrariness of our differences in a lighthearted yet thought provoking way.
Natalie has on various occasions demonstrated her great artistic talent.  Here is one such moment, as she prepares a backdrop of an equestrian statue, to which the play alludes.

Caroline, another of our talented artists, sets to work at cutting down our crude materials to refine them into a masterpiece.

The choir and dance class continues to perfect their choreography and the memorization of their song lyrics.  Tommy DeNardo and Mary Kate will, in addition to acting, serve also as the masters of ceremony.
On Tuesday, we celebrated with Hope on her birthday.  Here she is with card and, to depart from the monotony of so many ice cream sandwiches, a Spanish candy bar: Huesitos.

On Wednesday, we amped up our ordinary trip to the movie theater by following up with tapas and a trip to the game room.  Here, Caroline Natalie and Lindsey await their tapas, or montaditos: delicious little sandwiches in 100 different flavors, for the low, low rate of one euro each.  Happy Wednesday!

Erica looks on as Zin demonstrates the savory joy of the montadito.


Tommy carries tapas out to his hungrily waiting table.  As everyone in town wanted to take advantage of the special, we all had a bit of a wait.  I think we would agree that it was well worth it.

Tommy and Joe are all class as they keep up their nutritious diets with fresh salads.

Later in the game room, Anna and Lindsey play a modified bowling game.

As another arcade game demonstrated, Joe has the strongest punch of all of us.  Unfortunately, it was not strong enough for a free Coke.  Maybe next time!


Part of this week's hustle and bustle has been finishing course work with final exams and projects.  Here, Allyson and a few of the ladies study after lunch.

Not to worry; despite the academic rigor, there is always time for play.

This week, the long awaited t-shirts designed by Hope have finally arrived.  Here Hope shows off a final version.  Students could choose from yellow, blue, green, gray, white or pink.

Our last activity of the week was an exciting and controversial trip to a corrida de toros, or bullfight.  As it was an optional excursion, some students elected not to go, however, the vast majority made a showing.  Here we are in front of the plaza in Manzanares, a neighboring town.

The bullfight elicits strong and disparate feelings among the Spanish people.  Many see it as an essential element of Spanish culture and identity that represents centuries of tradition, while others concern themselves more with the polemically institutionalized sacrifice of animals.  Some celebrate the torero, and appreciate the aesthetic beauty, training and skill required for the bullfight, while still others believe the prolonged death of an animal to be distasteful fodder for entertainment. 
It was a local news channel's lucky day to run into a group of articulate young Americans.
Here Patrick, Tommy, Ana and Hope answer the question: "What has brought you to the corrida de toros?"

To enter the plaza, spectators can pass through doors marked either sol (sun), sol y sombra (sun and shade), or sombra (shade), depending on the exposure of their seat.  Our lucky students got all sol.  Fortunately, the bullfight was later in the day, and as the sunset the temperatures became more bearable.  Here Savannah and Mikaela pose in front of the ring.


Students gather on the Colosseum-like steps.
A band plays marches particular to the event.  Tonight, there are three toreros, each will fight and kill two bulls.

In general, students were glad to have exposure to this facet of a more conservative, Spanish culture. In many, it provoked philosophical speculation as to the importance of tradition and the treatment of animals.


In the days to come, we will be visiting the mayor's office, putting on our farewell show, and getting the most out of every minute!
See you later this week...

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