A short-story about a girl who falls in love with a country, its people, food, traditions, and culture.
written by Keysa Garcia
A Student of the Florida International University Honors College Spain Study Abroad Summer 2019 Program with Professor John William Bailly.
Being born and raised into a family that courageously lives on the phrase, “You learn more abroad than a day at school” is what has inspired to travel the world, immersing myself in different cultures while living like a local. Over the past 20 years, I have experienced and gained so many life skills that will only enrich my future self and future career goals. As I am forever grateful for the opportunities I have been given to travel to new places and see and learn new things with my family, seeing Spain through the eyes of John W. Bailly is something one must experience to truly admire.
Chapter 1: Where It All Started.
The Park of the Pleasant Retreat does not sound as beautiful as hearing a madrileño/madrileña roll their R’s as they mention El Parque del Buen Retiro. The park is filled with various monuments that not only add beauty but enrich the history of the park.
La Fuente de los Galapagos, the Galápagos Fountain is located to the north of the park by Salamanca, as it honors the first anniversary of the birth of Princess Isabella (who later becomes Isabella II), as commissioned by Ferdinand VII. The fountains origin is the Red de San Luis. In 1879, the fountain was relocated to the Glorieta de Nicaraguainside of El Parque del Buen Retiroadjacent to the big lake where one can rent a paddleboat and admire the beautiful greenery of the park. The fountain is composed of different animals, humans, and fictional characters such as fairies, dolphins, and turtles as the each contribute to the story of the fountain. One can spot the dolphins on the statue, as they have four children riding them to symbolize intelligence, prudence, and wisdom. The fountains fictional characters include three fairies, these fairies are associated with the good wishes towards the future queen, Isabella II. However, as a local or tourist one is automatically drawn to the water as it represents the source of all life, but one cannot ignore the only color that stands out on the statue, the green of the Galápagos turtle, as it represents longevity of the queen and her reign. [•]
Located 666 meters above the sea level, La Fuente del Ángel Caído, the fountain of the fallen angel sits in the midst of El Parque del Buen Retiro. The state was sculpted and created by Ricardo Bellver, yet his inspiration derived from Paradise Lostby John Milton where it received first prize in 1877 at La Exposiciones Nacionales de Bellas Artes. However, in 1878 the original plaster sculpture was destroyed, and recreated in Bronze to be apart of the Exposition Universelle, where masterpieces can only be made out of marble and bronze. This statue brings lots of attraction and pride to the park as it is one of the only public displays of the Devil in the world. [•] However, I believe that this public admiration to the devil has made its way to the Americas, as many individuals since the creation of this sculpture are not afraid to show their admiration to the devil himself. An example of this in the Americas include both the Church of Satan located in San Francisco, California and The Satanic Temple located throughout the United States, as it has 18 different active chapters. As it noted that both institutions believe and practice Satanism in different way, it is easily shown that both organizations do not have shame showing what they worship as those who commissioned, created, and displayed did not have fear when it came to La Fuente del Ángel Caído. [•]
El Parque del Buen Retiro, may be filled with beautiful historically rich statues and landscapes that make you fall in love with the place but there is nothing more astonishing than El Palacio de Cristal. Designed by Ricardo Velázquez Bosco, El Palacio de Cristalis one of the most intricate iron works in Madrid as it was inspired by Paxton’s Crystal Palace, yet was created for the 1887 Philippines Exhibition. [•]
Standing inside the crystal palace feels like a fairytale movie scene, having the warm Madrid sun shine through the glass and hit your skin is incomparable. It compares to nothing I have seen back at home, even comparing to my reaction to the Walt Disney Castle as a child. InsideEl Parque del Buen Retiro, one can find something to do… Whether it is working out, a light stroll or job, take a nap, row a boat, or just enjoy and embrace the greenery and historical attributes that offered within El Parque del Buen Retiro.
Chapter 2: The Midst of It All.
Walking through the streets of Sevilla reminded me of the times I have visited Cuba and Puerto Rico to not only visit family but to see where my parents grew up and established their childhood memories. However, the streets of Sevilla reminded me of the streets of El Viejo San Juan, the Old San Juan. My mom would walk up and down the street to get to and from school, it later became the same street she would walk to go to errands for my grandmother, and the streets that hold many secrets and memories… The same way the streets of Sevilla hold the secrets and memories of many locals and tourist. Sevilla first inhabitant have been established to be with the Tartessian culture. [•]
What is now present-day Sevilla, used to be known as Itálica, also known as the birth place of the Roman Emperors; this was founded in the early 200 BC. As a Vuelta,The nightlife in Barcelona was nothing like what I have experienced in Brickell or Wynwood. The music, the people, even the drinks taste different. The nights I spent out an about through the streets of Sant Marti and Barceloneta are the nights I will forever cherish. I see the early architectural aspects influence the Americas, as the streets of Sevilla are so similar to the streets of El Viejo San Juan, Puerto Rico.
As previously mentioned, walking the streets of Sevilla reminded me of the times I have visited Cuba and Puerto Rico to see where my parents grew up and established all of their childhood memories. However, Sevilla was able to give me the comfort of being home without being in Miami all thanks to a little store located on Calle Francos, 12. The Taste of America didn’t let me reminisce on the times I have visited Cuba and Puerto Rico, as there were moments I craved un plato de arroz blanco con huevo fritoor a portion of mofongo, but it gave me the access to my American comfort food. Paying 8 euros for a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese and 1,80 euros for a Twinkie sounds outrageous now that I am back in Miami, but when you are walking the streets of Sevilla and all you feel is a such an uplifting home vibe, you miss what you have back home as I was truly missing the taste of artificial cheese.
It was not only in Sevilla where I decided to seek for comfort food, it was from Day 1 till Day 22 of being on the program. Throughout the program, I would occasionally eat at fast food chains I have at home like Taco Bell and McDonalds, a Vuelta that I knew I would encounter but didn’t expect to engage in. In Miami, Taco Bell is only for the late-night munchies after a night of going out, in Sevilla it replaced my paellaand tapas for dinner. After being in awe on how different our tacos tasted, we also realized that even though we were eating at a popular American fast food chain, we were surrounded by locals who were singing along to Spanish street music. It wasn’t until I went to McDonald’s and saw both of my new Spanish life and my American life intertwine, on the menu of an American fast food chain… McCroquetes.
Nonetheless, when looking back on each city I traveled to the only city where I found an American grocery mart was in Sevilla.
Chapter 3: One Last Dance.
Barcelona, the city that truly took my heart a second time… A city that truly taught me how to love, live in the moment, party till sunrises and not stay indoors playing cards, and helped me believe that the most amazing things in life are those that are unexpected.
Pacha. The Coconut Club. Espit Chupitos. El Bombon. Opium. Club Catwalk.
The nightlife in Barcelona was nothing like what I have experienced in Brickell or Wynwood. The music, the people, even the drinks taste different. The nights I spent out an about through the streets of Sant Marti and Barceloneta are the nights I will forever cherish.
When comparing the nightlife of Spain to one in Miami, you are able to spot many differences. To begin with, the time. In Miami, it doesn’t matter if you’re going to Miami Beach, Wynwood, Brickell, or Downtown… If you are partaking in activities of “my demographic” you will more likely commence you night between the hours of 10:30 pm to 11:30 pm. In Spain, all partying locations are closed at that time, as most of them open at 12:00 am even 1:00 am. Yet, if this were to be implemented in Miami, it will not only give us time to play cards in our room, but it will restrict us from going out as the crime rate in the United States is much higher than the crime rate in Spain. Following the time is the price tag.
When it comes to partying and a bargain, Spain is you go to. After the converting your total cost spent (uber/taxi, entrance fee, and drinks) from Euros to United States Dollars, one can see a huge difference in the price tag. For example, the most I paid for an entrance fee in Spain was 20 euros, roughly 23 dollars and it included a drink. In the United States, an entrance fee will cost you 20 dollars, and drinks range from 15 to 25 dollars. Lastly, the spirit of those who go to the club is nothing like the ones in Miami, everyone is out and about living their life to the fullest without a worry in the world. In Miami, everyone even at the club, is stressed.
Dear Spain, I cannot thank you enough for the unforgettable memories. I cannot wait till we meet again in December. I will also be ready for an ida but I never want to come de vuelta. Gracias por todo, from Dale to Vale…