Saturday, June 29, 2013

Another lesson in culture: A night of classical music

Although many students were exhausted after a full day of classes and an excursion to la cueva de Valporquero, the night was not yet over as one of our moms (Cruz - host to Zofia abdul Kat)  had invited us to a concert, held in León´s auditorium in conjunction with the 26th annual Festival of Spanish Music. For those who attended, the orchestra's performance was a true lesson in music and culture alike.

¡Viva León! - La cueva de Valporquero (The cave of Valporquero)

Friday's excursion took us outside of the city and into the mountains, literally into the mountains as we explored the beautiful (and chilly!) cave of Valporquero. About 40 minutes outside of León by bus, students were able to truly try something new. Far away from the cathedral that many use to guide them home, many students were astounded to see the snow-covered mountains in the distance as we felt the sun upon us. Before entering the cave, our bus driver brought us to a nearby mirador for a picture-perfect view of the surrounding valleys. 

*If the pictures in the cave are a bit dark, it's because we could not use flash!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Looking ahead...

This weekend not only brings the school week to a close but also our next group excursion. Tomorrow afternoon we will head to La cueva de Valporquero, a 7-room cave located about 40 minutes away from León. A guided visit will provide us with much information about this natural wonder and attraction for tourists and locals alike. In the evening, one of our host mothers has invited us to hear the Philharmonic Orchestra of Castilla y León which will be perfomed in León´s auditorium, rumoured to have some of the best acoustics in Europe. Students will be able to enjoy a "free" day Saturday with their host families and on Sunday, they will have the opportunity to attend mass at our beautiful cathedral.

And the local fiestas continue...

Here is a glimpse of some of the "stars" from one of the many parades down Calle Ancha this week, in conjunction with the ongoing celebration of San Juan and San Pedro.

Another day, another culinary adventure at Casablanca...

Tuesday's valiant eaters braved the daily offering from the sea, tails, fins and all! 

 Luckily, Bea was able to give a quick lesson in deboning the fish. Below are a few students who could no longer resist the temptation of Casablanca's desserts and tried some favorites such as flan and tarta de limón.

Las fiestas de San Juan y San Pedro

Sunday's bullfight was held in conjunction with the local fiestas of San Juan and San Pedro. Many of our students went with their families to see the fireworks and traditional hoguera, or bonfire, in which all of the "bad" that has happened in the previous year is burnt up on the small pieces of paper thrown in by attendants.

  While the students certainly enjoyed these celebrations, they were also as happy as the locals to have the following day off! :)

La corrida de toros - The bullfight

It's been said that a "picture is worth" a thousand words and I believe that these photos will say plenty. This past Sunday, Mark and I took the students to the annual corrida de toros in León, held in conjunction with the fiestas of San Juan and San Pedro. Here, the students witnessed the controversial dance between man and beast that continues to divide Spaniards and foreigners alike. While some students were ready to leave after the first bull had fallen, others held out until the very end and questioned the prizes (1 ear, 2 ears, or 2 ears and a tail) as well as likelihood of the bull being spared.

This year´s corrida featured three well-known toreros: Enrique Ponce, David "El Fandi" Fandila and Juan José Padilla, who famously lost an eye last year during a bullfight. Given the seriousness of his injury, our students were astounded by both Padilla´s agility in the ring and his willingness to tempt fate again.