In Spain summer basically starts in May. Which in my opinion is the greatest month of the year. IT’S MY BIRTHDAY MONTH, THAT’S WHY. However, the month of May started what I would call, the craziest summer of my life. I don’t think I stopped once to relax. Wait, I STILL haven’t stopped!
The beginning of May was a puente, or a long weekend. Cris and I went on a road trip to Cordoba, a little pueblo called Montemayor, Baeza, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site Úbeda. It was a nice little road trip that allowed me to see some parts of Andalucía that are more difficult to travel to with public transport. Our first stop was Cordoba, where we were lucky to have time to see las cruces de mayo, or the Crosses of May. Which literally means that each neighborhood, barrio, makes their own cross full of flowers. They then put the said cross in a plaza with a full bar and plenty of room to dance. I have to say, my kind of party. How did this little celebration start? History has it that Emperor Constantine the first had a vision that if he built a cross to lead his armies in battle he would be victorious. So he did it, and of course won. When he returned back home he was baptized Christian, and had his mom go in search for the “true cross,” or the cross that Jesus was crucified on. When she arrived to Jerusalem, she found three old crosses. To find which one was the “true” cross she laid each cross over a sick or dead person. Those who were resurrected and healed were healed by the true cross. That cross was then celebrated and made into relics. Nowadays, the Spanish culture celebrate the finding of this cross and the handmade crosses represent the “True Cross.”
I have to admit that I had been to Cordoba before (shout out to Melissa, my travel buddy), but I didn’t really remember a lot of it. So this time around, I made sure to pay attention…like the history of the Mezquita.
We also made sure to visit a new place, like the Alcazar. It is another old Moorish castle that are located all over Andalucía. This one is especially known for its gardens…where I just happen to use as a nice siesta spot. Hey now, I was battling a terrible cold and it was FREAKIN’ hot that weekend.
The beginning of May also is the beginning of a unique celebration in Cordoba: Los patios. Now in the south of Spain, it get’s pretty toasty during the summer. So many of these older houses have very large patios where families can spend time in the shade and cooler temperatures. These patios also act as an air conditioner for the other rooms in the house. Also, because many families spend time in these, they would decorate these areas with bright flowers, antique furniture, fountains, and other decorations. However, it wasn’t until 1921 that some of these houses began competing for the most beautiful patio. Neighbors will come together to decorate a patio, and open it to the public to come in and look. Now, there are normally two weeks for this competition, but there are always 6 patios that are open year around. Click here for more information about the Patios of Cordoba.
Finally our trip was complete with an amazing bowl of Salmajero. Which is basically a cold tomato soup made with a mixture of tomatoes, olive oil, bread crumbs, and topped with a fried egg. It’s always refreshing in the hot weather.
Once we were back on the road we made a pit stop in a small pueblo outside of Cordoba, Montemayor. This town is known for its agriculture. We were able to take a little walk through a friends’ farm, or cortijo. The view of the picture below is from the highest point of the city, where there the church is located.
The next stop are two famous cities in Jaen, Baeza and Úbeda. Both cities are UNESCO World Heritage Cities for their Renaissance architecture. Basically each city is like a fairytale.
Up next was starting the week long celebration of my birth! It was such a great week hanging out with the people who mean the most to me here. I was also lucky that a few of my private tutoring students also celebrated their birthdays too!
Then as quickly as the year started, it finished. I have to admit that I was happy to finish the school year, my school really didn’t include or treat me like I was a part of their family. Once school was finished for everyone, it was time to start saying good byes to my friends who were returning back to their home countries for the summer. Luckily I have a great crew here who love to create fun and adventurous games. To end our year together my friend Leila planned a scavenger hunt of Malaga. In groups, we had to take pictures in front of places, do little activities like buying a certain Spanish candy or getting a drink at a specific bar. We had a great time running around Malaga being the weirdo giris asking tourists for pictures. We of course ended the night at the one bar that we always, ALWAYS ended up at.
During this time, I have to admit it was pretty stressful for me. I finally decided to stay the summer in Malaga, so I was struggling to find a good paying job. Unfortunately many English summer camps here don’t pay that great, even less if you have to be paid under the table. I couldn’t find an apartment that would only rent to me for 3 months. Why did I only need a 3 month contract? Well, the program I was working for, the North American Language Exchange, has a little rule that after three years in one province, you have to leave said province. So I was accepted for a fourth year, but in the province of Extremadura…yeah the no mans land of Spain. So I had a lot of decisions a head of me…but more about that and the rest of my summer adventures in part 2! Until then, hasta luego!
“Travel, like dreams, is a door that opens from the real world into a world that is yet to be discovered” – Guy de Maupassant