My name is Sebastian Cajamarca. I am an undergrad student at Florida International University purposing a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I am a junior in the honors college currently on the honors program for Spain Study Abroad 2019.
Complete Silence by Sebastian Cajamarca of FIU at Madrid, Spain (Plaza De Toros)
In a stadium full of thousands of people screaming and shouting, the only thing that stood out was the silence. In a very spontaneous and fun day, our class decided to participate in one of Spain’s most viscous sports: Bullfighting.
As a tourist, I didn’t know much about Spain, much less Madrid. The only things I knew about this country were the stereotypical Spain traditions that are known by many Americans. Such as flamingo dancing, party life in Madrid, and bullfights. Therefore, I had a preconceived idea of what I wanted to experience here.
Next thing you know, the first bull appears. It was a viscous and dangerous round. Somehow, the first bull survived. Cows come into the arena signifying victory for the bull. Thankfully, we learned that in class and I was able to figure it out. Otherwise, I would still be wondering about the cows! However, the remaining bulls did not have the same luck. Bull after bull kept coming in and the matadors, with the help of their assistant, kept killing the bulls. Slowly but shortly the bulls started to die. It was gruesome and merciless the way each dead bull was dragged outside of the stadium. However, there was one bull performance that highlighted my experience.
During the third round or so, the whole stadium went silent as a matador was trying to stab a bull in neck. I had never experienced such goosebumps when that stadium went completely silent. That was the last time I heard that silence. The matador was gored in the leg. This had to be the most amazing thing I had ever witness. People were screaming, crying, and cheering. I had never seen a man be lift by a bull’s horn so viciously. They never did tell us what happened to the matador or his leg. They just kept the show going. I’ll never forget it.
The View by Sebastian Cajamarca of FIU at Toledo, Spain
The city of Toledo, its food, and people have been my favorite experience in Spain yet. We had an unforgettable experience in Toledo. Our tour guide, Juan showed and taught us about the historic churches and religious cultural norms that the city has been following since its beginnings. Right after our tour, a couple of us went to eat at a local restaurant in the city. I ordered the best burger I’ve had in Spain yet! After our meal, we all came to a consensus that Toledo had really good food to offer. Almost better than most place we have been too! After we ate, the real excitement began.
Our class’ objective was to get the full view of Toledo. To do this, we hiked up mountains and rocks. It was a tricky, fun, and dangerous task for me because I had never gone hiking before. It was a full day of physical activities that was all new to me. As someone who lives in Miami, I don’t have the opportunity to hike. Much less, being able to have such glorious views from up a mountain. Throughout this experience, I learned that I like to take some risks in my life and go out in to the world. More importantly, the point of hiking wasn’t for us to lose weight or be in shape but to be able to witness the city of Toledo how is was meant to be seen. I am looking forward to do more activities like these during the summer and for the rest of my life.
“My Head is Still Buzzing” by Sebastian Cajamarca of FIU at Sevilla, Spain
On a very spontaneous day, my roommate, Alain and I decided to walk around the city of Sevilla. After grabbing dinner, we came across a flyer for a flamenco show. At first, I was not sold on the idea of going to a flamenco show. On the other hand, Alain recommended that we should go and took it upon himself to buy two tickets for us.
On our way to the flamenco show, we walked by the streets of Santa Cruz. During our time in Sevilla, my fifteen minute walk to the show engraved a memory in me that I will never forget. The sky was blue and red with long clouds, women were wearing beautiful dresses, kids were running happy, couples were getting busy, and local stores were thriving with success. Truly a remarkable experience. Once we got to the flamenco show, I did not know what to expect. We got there just in time. The show was about to start. The flamenco show had four performers: guitarist, singer, male dancer, and a female dancer. First, the guitarist and the singer come out. The guitarist starts tuning his guitar while the singer taps his foot on the wooden stage and makes a melody. Simple but the sound of his voice gave it a personal feeling. I felt happiness and sadness with a lot of mix euphoria.
The guitarist starts playing. A male and female flamenco dancer come out. The proceed to dance and embody the music. Softly building up their stamina as they went along. I had never seen dancing like this in my life. The passion and work each of them put into the show made me feel that my day was building its way up to see this show. The flamenco show made me feel like I finally experienced the real Spain. At the end of the show, Alain asked me what I thought of the show. I responded, “My head is still buzzing.” I was in awe. I was glad to do something new and liked it. Even more happy that I got to experienced it.
Reflection by Sebastian Cajamarca of FIU at Granada, Spain
During our bus ride from Sevilla to Granada, I had a rough time. However, the three-hour long bus ride gave me time to reflect and contemplate about my life for a bit. Since I did not have the best wi-fi connection, I only listened to Frank Ocean songs and enjoyed the view of the cities and farms we passed by. I felt better.
Once we got to Granada, I gave myself enough time to reflect on my study abroad experience in Spain so far and what I was going to do after this. I did not expect for this bus ride to help that much but it did. Simply just sitting down and contemplating gave me good inner peace. After grabbing food, we took a cab to the Palacios Nazarier. In this palace, the greatest and oldest Islamic art in world resided.
Out of all the stunning centerpieces of the Alhambra that we came across, the one that spoke the most to me was the abundance of the water. The water is the reflection of the sky and the stars. Its main purpose was for contemplation. And before that bus ride, I didn’t think much about contemplation and reflection. However, I found it extremely fascinating now that I understood how helpful it was to reflect. I understood the purpose behind this simple work of art and appreciated it. I felt an abundance of happiness by looking at the clear reflection of the water. I felt a strong connection with myself and the many people that had come before me to ponder about life.
The Echo by Sebastian Cajamarca of FIU at Barcelona, Spain (Palau de la Música Catalan)
During a very unexpected but pleasant day, we were surprised with a quick tour of Barcelona’s most distinguish concert halls: Palau de la Música. The history of this concert hall unfolded as our tour guide walked us through different levels of the building and charismatically gave us more insight on their past, present, and future. The concert hall, insight and out, displayed enormous Catalan identity. From sculptures of Saint Jordi fighting a dragon on the outside of the building to trencadís art on pillars by Gaudí in the inside. It was a jaw-dropping experience to witness this concert hall like no other. Gaudí’s work created an ambiance of nature by mixing human made components. His work, among others, created the style of modernisme. It all came together once we had the privilege to watch a very talented choir rehearse. I had no idea what they were saying. Some were singing and others were talking among each other. It was perfectly choreographed to the point that if I closed my eyes I could picture what they were saying in my head. It was as if the Catalan people were talking. About their culture, history, people, and future. It was quite breathtaking. However, one should not attempt to close his or her eyes at any point inside this concert hall. The echo of their voices with the spectacular scenery around us accompanied each other very well and made for an unforgettable experience.
Call to Art by Sebastian Cajamarca of FIU at Sitges, Barcelona (Cau Ferrat Museum)
Once we arrived to Sitges, our lovely tour guide, Vinyet Panyella gave us great insight of the Cau Ferrat Museum. Walking the same path that Charles Deering did his first time in Sitges, Vinyet began to inform us about Deering’s adventures at Sitges. Together, Charles Deering and Ramon Casas – good friend and artist – began to explore Sitges. Our next stop, coincidently just like Deering and Casas, took us into the Cau Ferrat museum. This building had amazing art from collector Santiago Rusiñol. Every corner of the museum was a spectacular demonstration of collectionism. This place was called the Maricel Palace. It had an array of showings. All the way from paintings by El Greco to Pablo Picasso. However, nothing grabbed my attention more than seeing the pianos. Just simple instruments that weren’t explained much but kept me focus. I found it extremely compelling and inspiring to find out that Rusiñol new how to play piano and didn’t just had one for the sake of collectionism. Playing the piano here was used for practicing his calls to art. I related to that form of expression. Knowing this introduced me to a different perspective. It helped me understand Rusiñol a little better. Also, finding out that other influential people such as Victor Jara came here to play piano blew my mind. Jara was depressed about the current war and decided to come here to forget about it for a while. I didn’t feel that silly about being more charmed about these instruments than all the other magnificent art around me anymore.