The adventure has begun! After a very long day of traveling, I am happy to report that the entire group has safely made it to Cádiz. Most of us have miraculously recovered from the jet lag already, most likely thanks to the wonderful tradition of the Spanish siesta (which we took yesterday and today)! When we arrived in Spain yesterday, we took a gorgeous bus ride from Juarez Airport to Cádiz, where we were able to see the charming Spanish countryside. There were miles upon miles of sunflower fields and bright blue bodies of water. Finally arriving in Cádiz was like walking into a dream. As I stepped off the bus, I was instantly greeted with an overwhelming smell of the ocean and the view of tall palm trees. I knew that I was going to love it here.
It was a sunny, hot day, and we waited in the shade in a plaza where we were greeted by our host families, with the traditional kiss on both cheeks. My host parents helped us load my roommate and my suitcases into their car, and we drove a short distance from the city to their home. We drove over the cobblestones in between very narrow streets, which have an old, classic European feel to them. We got a quick peek at a beautiful view of the water – which is one of the many great things about Cádiz. It is surrounded by the ocean on almost all sides, so if you walk in pretty much any direction, you will get to the water! When we arrived at our home, our host mother gave us time to unpack and settle in, and then offered us refreshing pineapple juice and sandwiches. She immersed us in conversation, asking us many questions in Spanish and answering any we had. It’s been so great because my Señora loves sitting at the table at and after meal times and talking with us. Each time we come back to the house, she asks us how we are and what we did. She is absolutely wonderful and I am so grateful she welcomed us into her home.
Our group then met in Plaza Mentidero, which is the same location where our classes will be at. Chris, our program director, gave us a quick tour of the city and told us a little of Cádiz’s extensive and very interesting history. We then had free time for a few hours until dinner back at our homestay houses. My new friends and I wandered around the city, ordering delicious gelato, and finding new plazas at practically every corner. We ended up on the city wall to witness a gorgeous sunset over the water. Then back at home, our homestay mother cooked us a fantastic dinner of an egg and cheese omelet and tuna empanadas. Exhausted from our adventures and travels, we all quickly fell asleep, more than excited to see what the next day had in store.
Today has been another fun-filled, packed day. After a lovely breakfast with our Señora, we had our program orientation and took a placement test for our classes, which will begin tomorrow. Then we had plenty of time to explore and navigate the streets ourselves. It’s hard to believe that we only arrived yesterday, as the streets that felt unfamiliar only a day ago are already starting to feel a lot like home. We stopped in a few shops, walked through a bustling market, and just looked around and appreciated the absolutely wonderful city around us. We are off to the beach in a bit, and we have a group dinner together tonight. I cannot even express how much I am looking forward to continuing to explore every part of this incredible place. Who knew that you could fall in love so fast because I have fallen for the city of Cádiz in every way and I cannot wait to make the most of this unforgettable experience.