BY MINERVA JIMENEZ-GARCIA
It seems as though the day is just starting when the blazing sun dips and the night sky takes over. As the sky darkens, crowds fill the sidewalks. From young children to old couples, people of all ages gather to celebrate. Walking down the beach, I could see the importance of family in the culture of Spain. Groups of families would sit in their beach chairs and have a table set with drinks and food. Laughter, music and talking filled the air. One family created their own music by playing with a guitar and an accordion accompanied by a singer. Family members encouraged them to play by dancing and clapping along to the music. Pretty soon strangers crowded around the family and smiled, cheered and danced..
Living in a foreign country frees you from having a set schedule; the feeling can be liberating and nerve wrecking. As I woke up on Friday with no class, I felt paranoid that I had a meeting to go to, work or a project due that day. When I realized that all I needed to do was work on a few assignments, I did not know what to do with myself. I decided I should take advantage of the beautiful day and at the very least explore more of the city. I did not have a particular place in mind that I wanted to see but I soon discovered that walking down the streets of Valencia brings surprises. When I first came to Spain, I the narrow, maze-like streets intimidated me. I felt like an ant scurrying to find my way back; the walls of shops and apartments towered over me.
Now that I have a better sense of where things are located, I feel more confident exploring and wandering aimlessly along the hidden streets and alleyways. One of my best finds was a huge garden with a pond that had a family of ducklings swimming in a line. At the end of the pond there was a waterfall and trees with roots that looked like small arches growing from the ground. The trees almost made it feel as if you had been placed in a jungle by the way the vines hung and the rich green leaves covered the sky. I felt like Alice in Wonderland as I walked through this enchanting garden with tunnels of ivy that led me through another end of the garden. Somehow I ended up in a maze of flowers and at the center there was a water fountain. I decided to sit at a bench underneath the trees to take in the beauty of the scenery. As I closed my eyes I could hear birds chirping and the water creating a soothing ocean sound as the water spewing from the fountain crashed against the pool of water. When I opened my eyes the roses were illuminated by the sunlight making it seem like a bright colored rainbow had grown from the ground. This garden was one of the many treasures I found in the city and it has motivated me to keep venturing for more secret gardens and attractions.
On my last weekend in Spain, I wanted to visit the places I hadn’t seen. To satisfy my desire I decided to climb the bell tower called the Torre Del Micalet.
I headed to the cathedral and started climbing the stairs at full pace. The stairwell was narrow and the steps were huge. I had to lift my whole leg to reach to the next step. As people were coming down in the narrow walkway, I had to move to the right, which had about enough space for my two feet. To make room for other people, I had to cling against the wall and hope I didn’t go rolling down. Climbing further up, the air in the tower seemed to thicken and become warmer. The only circulation of air going through was from the a few gated windows. I began questioning if the flight going upstairs was more breathtaking rather than the scenery. My legs became sore and dragged as I tried pulling them up. Each time the stairwell curved, I kept hoping that I had reached the doorway to the top but I was disappointed to find that I still had a long way to go. Soon I was too far up to go down and I embraced the pain, heat and the potential accident that could occur to me if I tripped or fell. A gust of cool wind rewarded me as I reached the doorway; the scenery was well worth the struggle. Looking down the city and seeing all the places I had visited made me cherish the fact that I had the opportunity to live in a beautiful place.