An Excursion off the Beaten Path

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by Zoe Pleasure | Emory Salamanca Program, Spring 2015

Originally written on February 19, 2016

At the end of April, we took our last excursion with the Emory group. Because my program in Spain was exclusively for Emory students, we had four excursions planned through our program with the Emory director and group. We went to Toledo, Lisboa, Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba, and Lanzarote. All the excursions were jam-packed with activities, and we saw more Catholic art than I thought was ever possible in one semester. 

The last trip we took (and the subject of this blog post) was to Lanzarote. If you don’t already know, the Canary Islands are part of Spain but are located off the coast of the Western Sahara/Morocco. Lanzarote in particular is very dry and has a volcanic landscape. We stayed in a resort on the beach and basically had every afternoon to sit on the beach or by the pool during siesta. In the mornings, we had a lot of cultural activities including visits to the Timanfaya National Park (a huge volcanic park), the Cactus Garden, Jameos de Agua, and Mirador del Rio. We even went to a wine tasting of wines produced in volcanic soil. The artist Cesar Manrique was a huge figure on the island that helped to establish cultural institutions and keep the island unaffected by the big tourism boom in Spain during the 50s-70s. He designed a bunch of logos for the cultural centers in Lanzarote. All of the cultural sights had a really nice cohesion because of his influence.

The trip was the best excursion we went on and I’d love to go back and see some of the other islands. With the Emory group and leaders, we were exposed to many of the cultural sites that would usually be difficult to encounter. The cultural meals were some of my favorite times in Spain. In Lanzarote, we ate a meal right by the ocean that consisted of various types of seafood and papas arrugadas con mojo verde (potatoes with green spicy sauce). While the Canary Islands have many of the same cultural traditions as mainland Spain, there are many differences that one picks up when traveling in the region and interacting with the people. This type of cultural analysis and these observations I came to make greatly enhanced my experience in Spain. With each Emory excursion and my own travels to Madrid and San Sebastián, I was able to start to pick up cultural nuances that I never thought was possible. The Lanzarote trip proved to be the perfect excursion to end my time in Spain, not only because it expanded my understanding of the variations in Spanish culture but also allowed us to relax and appreciate the traditions of Spain in a new way.