Unless I’m mistaken, I believe that all of the Anglos in VaughanTown Trujillo walked with the Spaniards to Plaza Mayor every day during our one-to-one sessions. Because of our hour-long time constraints, they were always short walks, but we made the most of our time, walking up and through the streets to see what was around each new corner. The roads appeared to be a maze, but we soon realized that we only needed to head back down the hill to find our way back to our hotel.
Here are two views of the Plaza. The Palace of the Conquista is shown in the early morning light…
…and here is another view of the Plaza in the afternoon when a stage was being set up for their annual festival called Virgen de la Victoria, or the Virgin Mary of Victory. This week-long festival begins every year with the statue of Our Lady of Victory being moved from her usual place in the chapel of the Castle to the Church of San Martín in the Plaza Mayor.
Trujillo is a lovely small town with so much history. There were originally four gates to the city with the castle at the top of the hill. Legend has it that this was the first gate where Christians were slaughtered in 1232 until the Virgin appeared over the gate. The statue above the arch commemorates that sighting.
Beautiful prickly pears hung from the cactus along our walk.
This narrow street shows a portion of the watch wall which overlooked the town below.
I particularly loved this viewpoint of the Plaza de los Descalzos. The pool at the bottom of the image, called La Alberca, is what many believe to have been a Roman bath. During its use up until 1935, women bathed in the 11 meter (35 feet) deep bath in the morning and men bathed in the afternoon.
I was told on two separate city walks in Spain that cloistered nuns bake and sell cookies to raise money for their church. The protocol is to knock on the door and ask to purchase cookies. A nun will then close the door and return with a bag of cookies. The sales transaction is done with little to no conversation. Here is the doorway of the convent where we purchased the cookies…
…and here are some of the Almendrados cookies from a small bag that I purchased for 5€ which I shared with everyone at breakfast. These almond cookies had a slight lemony undertone and were very dense. I’m assuming they would be delicious dipped in coffee!
Speaking of food, we headed out for our one-to-one walks on Wednesday morning and saw that there was a farmer’s market in town. Many of the streets leading up to and around Plaza Mayor had stalls set up, selling everything from clothing to jewelry to pottery.
The hand-painted pottery was gorgeous, and any piece could easily become the star at your table. I considered purchasing some pieces, but the thought of carrying them around with me to the next two cities on my trip and on board the flight back home convinced me otherwise.
There was also an indoor market where seafood, produce, and cooked items were being sold.
I loved this woman. She was assisting a customer with some produce, so I decided to photograph her old scale. A second before I took the picture, she spun around and weighed the produce. She realized I had photographed her and, without saying a word, she pointed to my camera and motioned for me to approach her. I showed her this image. She looked at me, nodding her approval, and returned to her customers, all without skipping a beat.
We really need to talk about Jamón ibérico (Spanish Iberian ham) and sausages. They are OUTSTANDING.
I typically eat a light breakfast at home and I rarely, if ever, eat meat of any kind, but trust me….I loaded my plate with these jewels every morning at breakfast! In the image below, beginning with the cheese in a clockwise position (yes, those are my teeth marks in the cheese!): Manchego cheese, made from sheep’s milk, Chorizo (completely different than Mexican Chorizo), Salchichón, Jamón ibérico (Iberian ham), and Salchica sausage. I’m missing the name of the sausage tucked under the Chorizo! (If there are any Spaniards who are reading this….please help me identify it!)
This is a beautiful door detail, found on our walk back to our hotel.
Our participation at VaughanTown consisted of more than walking in conversation through the town. We had a lot of fun when we performed skits in groups to encourage public speaking in English. During one session, each group had only thirty minutes to invent a product and create an advertisement for it, complete with narration, a jingle, and a slogan. Ours? Glasses that could be used as a telephone to call another person, except that we could see each other in real time through the lenses! Our invention was called “I.C.U.U.C.ME” and our jingle was, “I.C.U., U.C.ME….the latest in technology!” Our jingle was to the tune of, “We’ve Got the Whole World in our
Hands Eyes,” sung together as a group. It was very silly and great fun, except that I’m still a little miffed that the Anglos and Spaniards decided that I should be their mother in the skit! ;) Another fun skit I was in was called “How to Tell if Someone is an Alien.”
Not trying to slight anyone, but the funniest skit of all that I was in wasn’t funny because of the script, but because of the rehearsals I had with Sergio. Because “what happens in Trujillo stays in Trujillo,” all I will say about it is that it involved our not having enough time to rehearse and memorize some complicated movements and my drinking waayyyy too much water before our last rehearsal. (Sergio, if you’re reading this, I still laugh out loud about our rehearsals.)
In addition to the skits, some people volunteered to give talks and instruction on various topics of their expertise; we had a stand-up comedy routine that was hilarious, and some members of our group performed a Bollywood dance. I thought that I would have been intimidated by getting up in front of people, but it was great fun.
Anglos were also asked to explain English phrasal verbs and idioms to Spaniards and use them in sentences. Examples of phrasal verbs are “to wear out,” “to break down,” and “to make fun of,” phrases not easily understood by non-native English speakers. Examples of idioms are “as a last resort,” “shake like a leaf,” and “the blind leading the blind.” I never realized until I entered this program that my everyday language is riddled with phrasal verbs and idioms!
Our time together was coming to a close. We spent our final evening together at the festival. It was a bittersweet evening. There were many hugs and group photos, each of us knowing that this would be our last evening as a group. There was a buzz of activity surrounding us at the Plaza. There was such a large crowd that it appeared that all of the townspeople and tourists had gathered for the orchestra performance. Adults gathered together with friends and family while their children played in groups, laughing and running through the Plaza.
The stars were out that night!
Brightly-colored lights illuminated our group toast among friends: “¡Salud!”
Most of us slipped away to a beautiful bar/club called La Abadía which was tucked away up the hill for a night of libations and dancing until early the next morning.
The Castle looked magnificent seeing it lit for the festival.
I will admit to being the dud of the group! I left the bar at 1:00 a.m. (hey, it was past my bedtime!), while others returned to the hotel as late as 6:00 a.m. I might have been the only person who was well rested at breakfast the following morning, but apparently I missed out on a fun evening dancing the night away.
To my friends in the VaughanTown program: The wonderful memories I have of each one of you will be with me for a lifetime. We each traveled from different parts of Spain, France, Ireland, Scotland, England, the U.S., and China. Stepping away from our busy daily lives, we converged on the beautiful town of Trujillo as solo travelers; six short days later, we left Trujillo as friends. Whether you are a Spaniard or an Anglo, I will remember both your laughter and your tears as you shared the intimate details of your life with me. I gained so much from each one of you, and I am grateful for your friendship. I hope you will accept this blog post as my gift to you of our time together in Trujillo, and I hope it will bring back wonderful memories of the great fun we had.