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

Almunecar – Friday, March 10th

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After, in order to catch the bus we had to run through the whole city while the locals stared at us. After getting on the bus we went back to El Tinao for a traditional Spanish dinner. Then we walked back to the Hotel and got some rest for the next day ahead of us. All of us were amazed by what we learnt today about Spain’s traditions, landscape, culture and beauties. It was an amazing, busy day of non-stop activities. The buildings and monuments we saw were all very intricate and special in their own ways.

-Ramiro Taylor and Robert

New York to La Herradura – Tuesday/Wednesday, March 7th / 8th

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Yesterday we arrived at school at normal time, and then started the day by taking time to finish our presentations and prepare for our departure for Spain. After we grabbed lunch at school, we got on to the bus and drove to JFK. Getting into the airport took a surprisingly short amount of time, so we used up the rest of it to grab some snacks and some last minute items. Soon enough, we were boarding our 6-hour flight to Dublin. A lot of kids had a hard time sleeping and only got around 0-2 hours of sleep. After what felt like 12 hours, we landed and began to head towards our lay over to Malaga airport. We soon realized we were in the wrong terminal and had to run over to the correct one (Which happened to ALL the way across the airport) with only 5 minutes to spare. Thankfully, we made it on to our flight. A lot of us had an easier time sleeping on this flight instead of the first one. The lack of sleep was definitely hitting us, but we powered through the day. Once we arrived in Malaga, we were greeted by our tour guides for the trip, and began the fifty minute drive to La Herradura, where we are staying. We had some time to put our things in our rooms, and then we left for a walk through town. After grabbing a quick bite of ice cream at a local shop, we headed to an old castle, where we had a buffet style lunch, got to explore, and got to know our guides. After lunch, we embarked on a steep hike to the highest point in La Herradura, where we could play soccer, basketball and meet a couple of the local kids. After soccer, the plane, and the hike, we all felt tired and disgusting, so we took some time to shower and change. Once everyone was ready, we headed to our next activity, which was a guitar workshop. While in the workshop, we learned the process of making Spanish guitars, the various types of wood used to make guitars, and a little background on the shop owner. When we were finished, we went to dinner at a local restaurant where we had a choice of appetizers, entrées, and dessert, which were all amazing. At the end of the evening, all we wanted to do was sleep, considering we hadn’t slept much for the past 24 hours. I think I can speak for all of us when I say I’ve never fallen asleep so fast. As tired as we were, we still had an amazing day getting to know the people of La Herradura and the town itself.

Emma and Evvy

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Frigiliana – Thursday, March 9th

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Today was our first full day in Spain. It started early at 7:30 when we grabbed breakfast at the hotel. We got to try a typical Spanish dish called tostado con aceite y tomato. This dish is essentially toasted bread with an olive oil and tomato spread. After breakfast, we took to Frigiliana, which was one of the last Moorish strongholds during the Reconquista. There, we walked through the town’s narrow streets and eventually made our way up to the mountains we would be hiking.

As we walked up the steep streets of the village, we passed a church that was converted from a mosque to a church. It had an ancient water fountain in front that is still in use. Then we got to the mountain. We walked along the aqueducts and all was easy until we needed our harnesses. Then we began to scale the side of the mountain with careful footwork. At times, our gear was an essential as we were 300 feet up, but mostly we relied on our balance and mindset of not looking down. We all overcame our fears of heights while hiking and got to see a few snakes.

Later, we got to sail like Phoenicians and jump into the 55-degree Mediterranean Sea. After that, we picnicked on the boats and watched the sunset. Today was a great day and hopefully there will be more to come.

Leah, Greer, Catalina & Lilah

Course Overview

Using the small fishing village of La Herradura as their base, students gain firsthand experience of the influence of the Moors, Gypsies, Sefardi, and Christians on Spanish language, food, architecture, and cultural traditions by exploring the nearby cities of Granada (where they enjoy a fabulous guided tour of Alhambra), Almuñécar, Frigiliana, and Pampaneira. While focusing on the themes of cultural and ecological sustainability, students also have the opportunity to conduct environmental research for a local archaeologist; explore the local ecosystem by kayaking around the coves of Cerro Gordo, where Phoenician merchants, pirates, and smugglers used to thrive; embark on day and night hikes; enjoy a sunset boat trip; and try their skills in a flamenco guitar workshop. Students also practice their Spanish by spending time with local students, exploring local markets, and engaging in community service on a local farm in the small town of Marro. The trip culminates with a final farewell celebration in a local castle.