Day 19: May 30th

We woke up this morning in the fanciest hotel to date.  After breakfast, we had a short walk to one of the Refugios de la Guerra Civil, built by Guillermo Langle, where approximately 35,000 citizens of Almería took shelter during the bombings of the Spanish Civil War.  Most of the 100 entrances around the city, disguised as newsstands and musical kiosks, still exist today.  The strangest and most worrying part had to be the area assigned for pregnant women to give birth underground during a bombing.  How much more awful could it get?

In the south of Spain, the Spanish accent is much different than the Castillian Spanish spoken in Madrid.  People tend to drop any ‘s’ on the end of a word and omit consonants.  If you don’t pay close attention, whatever they’re saying will slip right past you.  Luckily, we had Duncan translating for us on both of our tours.  After leaving the Refugio, we ducked back into the hotel to change into swimsuits for what we were most excited about: the beach!  We haggled with our bus driver as to when we should be picked up, agreeing to grab our own lunch in order to have another hour on the sand.  The sun was hot and bright, and a couple of us (including myself) were too excited about the beach to put on sunscreen, which has led to a prayer-filled evening.  Between one blink and the next, the whole beach was overcome by fog, which made for some nifty instagram photo ops.  Dani got a pretty awesome pic of Shontee strolling on the beach.

Some people enjoyed ham-hamburgers, while other had fries or paella with fresh seafood.  After Kyla and I got lunch at a café, we stopped in a grocery store and got an awesome deal on chocolate donuts.  8 donuts for 4 euros!  Jesse soon followed suit.  Right after, we walked to a small plaza with a giant monument for the martyrs of the democratic Republic and got drinks—soda, hot chocolate, or coffee.  There was one man working, as we came during siesta time, and even though there were twenty of us, he didn’t write anything down and eventually got all of our drinks right.  It was impressive.

Soon after, we met our tour guide for La Alcazaba—a giant fortress built to defend Almería from its many invaders.  Almería is known for being the most popular point of invasion in Spain, especially by sea, because of its wealth and large port.  The fort makes it ridiculously difficult to break in, with obstacle after obstacle blocking entrance.  At one of the towers, not only could guards fire arrows into the ranks of their enemies, but they could also pour boiling oil on them or throw dead animals into the fray.  That took a moment to wrap our heads around.

The Moorish architecture of la Alcazaba was really beautiful—many of wide stairs had running water splitting them in two and ending in a fountain.  The flowers smelled awesome and the view of the city, the ruins, and the water were gorgeous.  We were periodically given free time to explore the towers and the ruins, and to take more artsy photos.  We made a pit stop at the hotel to debrief a little bit on cultural things we had learned in our homestays.   Kyla and Meredith shared their experience with their mom, and having to explain that the food was still wonderful, even if they couldn’t eat third and fourth portions of it.  The size of laundry also came as a surprise to many of our homestay moms.

We met for dinner at a super fancy restaurant.  Allex and I sat across from Liz and José Mata, talking about the food, places we visited, and our families.  We had a great time eating great food, topping it all off with a chocolate-covered brownie and two scoops of ice cream (Allex and I shared and split dessert.)  The rest of the evening has been studying for the imminent culture exam, chatting with family, updating Facebook, and plain old chillin.  As we head into our last week, we’re all looking forward to meeting our new homestay moms and getting in as much time in the sun as possible. See you on the beach!

Bre Benbenek

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