For nearly 50 years, Proctor students have studied abroad with host families in Spain. The 2021 edition of Proctor en Segovia is off to a great start following a recent excursion to Andalucia and Cordoba. Read more from Sophie ‘23 and Katie ‘23 the group’s most recent blog post!
Sophie ‘23 | The Road to Andalucia
When I imagined Andalucia, I only thought of the lengthy history of Southern Spain that we struggled through in class with Luis. I could never imagine the oasis that waited at the end of the 6-hour car ride.
I groggily rolled out of bed at 6 am to pack for the trip. Ellie’s words, “It is going to be hot,” rang through my ears as I slowly pulled outfits out of my closet. I stuffed my trusty, old, backpack with the essentials, and threw a few extra, and maybe unnecessary things in my Flying Tiger tote, (the compact and cheap, Spanish version of a target, our favorite store).
The walk to school was filled with comments on what was to come and the occasional, “dang, it’s cold!” Luis was out retrieving the rental van, so morning history class was a breeze. He assigned us two pamphlets on the Mezquita and wow. They were overflowing with gorgeous pictures of this historical site. Spanish class started and ended in dancing and singing to our favorite Spanish songs. We were all anticipating the agonizingly long voyage ahead, as we cramped our school stuff into our overflowing backpacks, and headed out the door. My mind was empty as we searched for the cars except for the occasional, who was going to sit where? question. We divided ourselves between cars and skillfully packed the back of the van with the luggage. I ended up with Fernando as my companion, with Louisa, Scarlet, and our champion driver Luis.
I felt the wheels of the car moving and Luis began to question us on the reading. Occasional screams of toddler laughter came from the seat behind me followed by a reminder from Luis of our stop in Toledo. I watched mountains on our left, slowly turn into organized rows of trees that grew grapes and olives. Fernando’s eyes closed and his head fell and shortly after, I followed suit, falling asleep to Luis’s podcast. When I woke up, we were in Toledo.
The struggle to find parking was real in the old capital of Spain, but once we located the garage, a kind parking attendant helped us into our spots. I unbuckled and freed Fernando who was overjoyed to see Mamá, (Ellie). We met outside with our bocadillos, and went off in different directions to explore the city for lunch. Intrigued by the sculpture of the woman holding a sword, Jess, Katie, and I went left. We discovered a breathtaking courtyard with an outstanding view of an academy. Below, there was a rushing river beside a busy street. I could see every detail of the cliffs across the way and I just thought, I could get used to this. We rapidly ate our sandwiches then found steps hidden behind bushes and came across a peaceful park. The splash of the water from the fountain was the only noise besides our giggling. A children’s playground was in front of a multi-colored wall that captured all different shades of brown. Eventually, our time was up, and we grudgingly walked to the meeting spot wishing we had more time to explore this extraordinary city. The 4-hour stretch ahead was daunting and we made a plan to stop once more. We all got situated in our seats and Luis restarted his podcast, and off we went.
I did not realize I fell asleep once more until I woke up with 2 hours left of the trip. Fernando demanded to watch smurfs and after putting on the movie, I watched the landscape out the window. As far as the eye could see were row upon row of olive trees. Some were just planted and others were a few years old. Mountains started to return but unlike in Segovia, it did not stop the farmers from planting their crops. We ended up deciding to only stop for gas and some snacks to entertain ourselves with for the last leg of the tip.
I watched the sunset over the mountains as we pulled onto a seemingly abandoned dirt road with rusted construction equipment littered around. It took a couple of tries to find the Airbnb since each house looked the same, every one was white. Our host Sensi welcomed us with her Andalusian accent and gave us a tour of our new home for the next few days. We settled into our rooms and I immediately changed into my bathing suit and jumped right into the pool. Sensi came out and commented on how cool the pool was and how she could never swim when it was this cold. She said things so differently than we would in Segovia, but I could still understand her.
The moon shone down and lit up the pool. The dark abyss above was littered with bright balls of fire. I was enamored with the sky above and in disbelief that this was where we were staying. I struggled to get out of the pool for dinner and we sat down, family-style, around a big, dark-colored, wooden table that comfortably sat us all. Shortly after our feast and clean-up. We all retreated to our separate wings and closed our eyes, excited for what was to come the next day.
Katie ‘23 | Cordoba - The White City
On Thursday morning I woke up ecstatic for our first day trip of the excursion in Andalucia; Córdoba. My host mom had told me about the white buildings that occupied the city, which I was beyond excited to see in person. The forty-five-minute drive into Cordoba in the van blasting early 2000s music was very suspenseful. We finally arrived at the parking garage, which seemed like it was built into a castle older than the United States. We filed out of the van unknowing of what the day was about to entail. Our first stop was the Mezquita, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, which we learned about in history class leading up to the excursion. The Mezquita was the Mosque of ABD Al Rahman II which was transformed into a Christian temple. Seeing this beautiful place of worship in person was jaw-dropping. It was fascinating to see the Islamic architecture through the brilliant arches and the earth-toned bricks in contrast to the gleaming white Cathedral with gold throughout. This building was ornate and extremely detailed, walking through it had me in awe.
After exploring the Mezquita it was time for lunch, I was eager to explore more of this vibrant city. Walking to the restaurant it was difficult for me to not stop and admire the architectural details and the green plants that coated the buildings. As we turned the corner of an alleyway into a busier road, a horse with a carriage galloped into my vision. Cordoba continued to amaze me. Jess, Sophie, and I found a restaurant and sat down, our eyes immediately went to the croquettes. They had three unique flavors that we tried, one of which stood out to Jess and me, a croquette with black rice, we were later informed by Luis that this was squid ink-covered rice. When it was time to return home for a siesta, we walked back to the parking garage, admiring everything. I was sad to part ways with a city that I had fallen in love with but excited to see what the rest of our journey in Andalucia would entail.