What a whirlwind of a week. I apologize for not getting a post or two up this week but CIEE had quite the itinerary planned for us with little down time (most days we even had stuff planned during the Spanish siesta time). Let me catch you up.
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Monday my uncle brought me up to Sevilla and dropped me off at the hotel where CIEE was putting us up all week. It was about a two hour drive from Algeciras. When we arrived at the hotel I checked in and made my way up to the room. I figured I’d have a roommate and sure enough I found out I was actually in a triple. I opened the door and the lights were out—both of them were out cold. They had arrived that day and like me the week before, jet lag was winning. At 7 that night we had our welcome meeting and shortly after that we had a welcome cocktail where all of us doing the 4-week Spanish class intermingled and got to know each other. Overall it was a solid group of people from all over the country. It was going to be a fun week.
I don’t want to bore you with all of the orientation meetings we had, but in short, we had 5 hours of meetings broken up by a 30-minute coffee break on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We went through some very useful information. After each meeting we had lunch and then had a little bit of free time. But that free time often meant we were walking around the town with a CIEE staff person showing us the city of Sevilla.
The city is absolutely incredible. It is the third or fourth largest in Spain (depending on how you determine city size…) and dates back to the Roman Empire. Most notably it became one of the capitols during the Moorish Empire and became the first capital of Christian Spain after the Moors were defeated. The churches and government buildings here are incredible and easily trump anything I saw in Honduras and Guatemala. It is amazing to think that those churches and buildings I saw in Central America are modeled after what I am seeing here in Spain—with Spain being the origin of most of the common architecture in Central America.
On Tuesday afternoon, in 100-degree heat, we had the opportunity to check out an incredible fort that dated back to the Moors. The Alcaza was a fort built by the Moors over one-thousand years ago but when the Christians defeated the Moors in Sevilla in the 15th Century they took over the fort and first tore a lot of it down (there are still two rooms and a large portion of wall that date back to the original Moorish complex) before rebuilding much of it using Moorish style architecture. It became the royal palace and capital for Spain and thrived even more when Columbus discovered the New World in 1492.
Speaking of Columbus, he spent much of his time in Sevilla before and in between trips to the New World. After his successful discovery Sevilla became his headquarters and within the Alcaza was Columbus’ first office. That was an awesome moment for me as a history geek—standing in a room that Christopher Columbus stood in over 500 years ago.
The palace itself is incredible. Like many of the buildings around Sevilla the intricacy is incredible. These pictures do not do it justice, but they try.
I apologize if you feel like you are reading a history textbook, but being around all this history makes me pretty giddy.
Anyway, its time to unpack at my home stay house, I just arrived here today and am going to settle in before I get a post up about my living conditions for the next 4 weeks.