Pampaneira, Alpujarra- Tuesday, March 14

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We woke up and went to breakfast at the hotel we stayed at for one night. The food was set up as a buffet. Breakfast consisted of many different foods such as toast, crepes, cereal, and more.

After breakfast we split into three groups. One group at a time went down into the mountain village where we explored some of the local shops. The first shop was “El secreto de jamón,” which is a small meat shop with a very nice owner. The next shop was owned by a nice elderly woman. She weaved blankets, scarfs, tapestries and many more detailed weaved works of art. The final shop was a chocolate shop. We tried many different samples of chocolate, including several interesting flavors that we have never tried or heard of before. Most of them were really good.

After we had bags full of food and weaved art, we headed over for lunch. We all walked up to a small pizzeria up the mountain while it rained on the paved rocks. The choices of pizza were jamon y queso and margarita. After we had a fun lunch of many different pizzas, we piled onto a bus where we drove back to La Herradura. After the hour and a half long drive, we settled down to our original hotel. We were given a few hours of free time before we had to go to dinner at El Tinao.  After dinner we went home in the dark to go to bed and prepare for a day of travel.

By Elyse and Jackson

La Alhambra in Granada- Monday March 13

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Today was an extremely important experience culturally. We started off the day with an early breakfast and a long drive to one of the most anticipated excursions on our trip: The Alhambra. The drive to the Alhambra was only an hour but for the whole journey you could see the array of different landscapes and architecture in the various villages that we passed on the way there. Once we reached our destination we were able to see the Alhambra in all of its glory. On the outside of the fortress the structure very simple but, once you entered the numerous palaces and gardens you could see the complexity to the architecture and design. The inside was embellished with ornate Arabic carvings, classical Islamic tiling which was perfectly symmetrical to one another, and magnificent waterways which turned to fountains. One of our favorite structures was the Lion Palace fountain because once you entered there was a magnificent courtyard which featured one main fountain that was adorned with hand carved lions which spat water into a surrounding pool. We learned that the style and design wasn’t the main focus of the Alhambra instead it was specifically built to withstand a battle for the ages. Ultimately the Alhambra’s Architecture was influence by La Convivencia and both the Muslims and Christians that inhabited the Alhambra over the many years that it took to complete the sprawling structures.  – Parker, Izzy and Gabe

After touring the gardens, where we could see the Roman impact especially in the gorgeous fountains, we had some sandwiches for lunch. We then started heading down into town. It started raining so we stopped in some shops along the way. We could really see the difference in cultures by the things the local shops sold. They had a mixture of Arabic culture, Gypsy, and European culture. We eventually got to the city roads of Granada with the rain pouring down on our heads, and walked to the bus stop. We caught the bus and drove an hour and thirty minutes until we got to the hotel in the mountain town of Pampaneira. We checked in and got our room keys. Then we all settled down, played twister, and hung out together. Then we went out to eat in a restaurant called Casa Julio. We ate many delicious foods traditionally from Granada. We first had an appetizer of ham, cheese, salad and fruits. Then they provided an exquisite soup for us to consume, and gave us an almond-chicken dish that stood out with vibrant flavors with a touch of spice. It came with fries and we ate it all like it was being sucked into a black hole. Finally, for dessert, we were given a very yummy flan with little cookies at the bottom that gave it a nice touch. After we filled our stomachs, we headed back to the hotel to grab some Z’s.  -Colin, Zyanya and Cameron

Farming, Cooking & Flamenco in Maro- Sunday, March 12

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In the morning, we were split into three groups and given a map to find our guide who was located on the other side of the town of Maro. He was next to an old sugar cane processing plant. Once we found him, he gave us pictures of plants that we had to find on our way to the beach. When we got to the beach we played a fun game, explained to us by our guide.

After we went to the beach, we headed over to our guide’s farm. The three groups competed in a challenge of who could make the best paella. The teams were split into those who were making the paella and those who had to create a garden with fresh produce. The paella makers were given freshly grown ingredients to cook with. First they diced up a ton of delicious vegetables and mixed them with olive oil, water, spices, and rice in a pan. The farming group chose a layout for their farm plot that they would create. They then dug out rows of dirt to plant the different plants including tomatoes, strawberries, and leeks. After finishing the paellas, we started the contest with the teachers and guides as the judges.  Caly, Emma, Marnie, Catalina, Greer, Ben, Jackson and Colin’s paella won the contest! After that everyone else got to enjoy the homemade food.

After our learning experience of cooking and farming we walked to a class where we learned the basics of flamenco dancing. It was interesting to see how much they used their arms and feet and how amazingly advanced and talented all the dancers were. Even the kids were incredible to watch. They danced with a fan, a special outfit, and shoes. They were also amazingly passionate about what they were doing. After the Flamenco class, we had some free time before a delicious dinner at El Tinao back in La Herradura.

– Marnie, Caly, Harper & Ben

Pheonician Exploration & Jellyfish Research- Saturday, March 11

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Today, our plan was to split into two groups, and rotate between two activities

This morning, we were allowed to sleep in until 8:30 AM. We had a quick breakfast, and then divided into two groups at the beach. Group 1 was to go kayaking around the local coasts. Group 2 was to go explore a jellyfish aquarium.

Excited but barely awake, Group 1 walked down the beach to a green hut where we met our kayak guides. After preparing our kayaks and bags, we set out along the rocky coastline, exploring La Herradura’s diverse aquatic environment. The highlights of today circled around the theme of Andalucía’s flora and fauna. Our kayak trip illustrated the vast range of aquatic life and lush Spanish pirate history. We explored caves, saw tropical fish and plants, and most importantly, we all got a sick farmers tan.

After our kayak trip we went to see an oceanographer who was in her third year of achieving her PhD.  She was studying the movement and attributes of jellyfish in this area of the Mediterranean. We helped her gather some plankton for her jellyfish. We also learned how pollution is killing off a lot of their predators so the jellyfish population has been steadily rising. This is why we need to preserve balance in our ocean to stop the death of natural predators.

– Quintin and Hunter