I thought I’d take this opportunity to catch up on small going-ons in Ourense!
I am fortunate enough to work at a school that goes on many field trips, and I’m fortunate enough to have them invite me to go along on all of them! One of the classes I work with is a tourism class, and they went on a trip to Ribeira Sacra. This is an area very near Ourense, and it is known for making lots of wine, particularly Mencia wine (Spain is making me significantly more well-versed in wines. I may even reject the consumption of Franzia once I return to the States). Since it was all tourism students on this trip, the school also hired a professional Tour Guide to sit on the bus and explain everything. The students didn't seem to pay a whole lot of attention to her, but I listened intently and tried to catch whatever I could. Granted, she explained everything in Gallego and not Castellano, so it was a bit of a headache but I was proud of my effort.
We started by visiting an old monastery that was built on a rock. The location was awesome in this very pretty wooded area. It was amusing to see everyone astounded by how beautiful the forest was, when to me it looked like any other forest preserve. Of course then I remembered that Spain is not really known for having this type of vegetation! I also couldn't remember the last time I'd been in such an area, so this stop was a delight.
|Parador Santo Estevo|
Next we went and visited a parador, which is some sort of historical building that nowadays acts as a luxury hotel. The one we visited used to be a monastery, but now rents out rooms for hundreds of euros per night with exquisite views of the Ribeira Sacra vineyards. This place we went to was GORGEOUS. The views were absolutely insane.
In general the views all around Ribeira Sacra were beautiful. There is a deep valley that runs through the entire region, and apparently during the warmer months you can take a boat all along the river found here while sipping some wine. Paradise. I will say, the beautiful views came with their cost. We took a huge bus which struggled to maneuver the cliff side winding roads. I’m not one to get easily carsick, but at a certain point I found myself to be unbelievable dizzy, and I thought to myself “MAN! I’m worse than [my sister] Sofia!” :)
The culmination of the field trip was a huge asado lunch we enjoyed as a huge, 60+ person group. I found it very interesting that the field trip organizers opted to rent out a place to have everyone eat, as it was quite a madhouse to have us all squeeze in. The food was greaaaaaaaat. It was a menu so they just kept bringing out courses of food. I devoured a plate full of asparagus that had some sort of cheesy chestnut sauce drizzled over it (only later would I fully understand the importance of the castaña, chestnut, to Ourense!). The asado part of the meal refers to an assortment of meat such as pork, ribs, and sausage all grilled to a delicious crisp.
What was also interesting about this lunch was that we were given an unlimited supply of drinks. All of us at the professors’ table drank water and pop for the most part, but the students were downing bottles of wine like nobody’s business (Don't worry, they were all at least 18 which is the minimum drinking age!). I found it funny to imagine this happening in the U.S…but the fact of the matter is it just WOULDN’T. By the end of the lunch a majority of the students were drunk, so I thought for sure we’d all pile into the bus and everyone would pass out. NOPE. Spanish students LOVE to talk. There was nonstop chatter and cheering when we went to visit a wine cellar (what?? you're going to give them more wine??) as well as the whole ride home. I was quite frankly too impressed by it all to be annoyed. Overall it was a great field trip, a nice “day of work”, and just added to the numerous Spanish experiences for which I am thankful!
I’d been quite excited for this celebration ever since I'd first heard about it. The word Magosto seems to derive from some latin words referring to fire, and fire is certainly a key player in the celebration, right after castañas. The party basically consists of people climbing (or driving, if you are fortunate) 20 minutes up the tallest mountain of Ourense, building bonfires to cook food (asado!) and chestnuts, drinking, singing, and seeking refuge from the rain all day long. When I had asked my students to explain the celebration to me, they were all a bit uninterested, I found. They complained that it always rains on the mountain, it’s always cold, it’s a long walk, people get very drunk, etc. Well, that didn’t hinder my excitement for the party! I just assumed that since most of the students are from Ourense anyway, they don't see the novelty of the celebration anymore.
The day of the party, we went up with one of Anna’s fellow teachers. YAY for cars. We passed so many poor souls walking the tremendously steep, wet, incline, all the while we were in the comfort of a warm, dry car. Up on the mountain, we met the teacher’s friends and also ran into some fellow American Auxiliares. It was nice to meet some new people, the food was great and plentiful, the beer was not so great, but plentiful, and the chestnuts were delicious. I had a blast! I’ve never been camping, but I'm told that this party resembled it quite a bit. It was great to see how efficient people became when a rain cloud made its way over the mountain. People would scramble to get brush to protect the bonfires, the food and people moved inside the tent, but the music usually continued. As soon as the rain stopped, within seconds everyone was back out in the open, never skipping a beat of the party. So enjoyable!
But Magosto in Ourense didn’t end that day! The next day there was a big celebration on the Praza Maior, the main plaza of Ourense. There were a ton of people there, and a huge bonfire right in the middle of the plaza. This is where the chestnuts were being cooked…yes…chestnuts roasting on an open fire! Also, for 1 euro you could get a small meal of a sandwich (a large roll of bread stuffed with a whole chorizo. Genius.), wine, and chestnuts. There was also a band playing traditional Galician music, which includes lots of bagpipes. There was one older woman just having the time of her life dancing to this band. I was clearly too awestruck by her inspiring movements, because I totally did not think to take of a video of her! Darn. Overall, this was a super cute celebration.
|Me and Kirsten|
But the celebration didn’t end that day either! The next weekend there was a party at one of our favorite bars, Auriense. This Magosto party was originally supposed to have taken place the weekend before, but it was quite lucky that it got delayed to this weekend—Kirsten was visiting us so she got some of the Magosto experience herself! (Sidenote: Also while Kirsten was visiting us, we managed to try pig ear. I could not bring myself to chew it for longer than 3 bites, let alone swallow it. So we won’t be eating that again.)
Overall I am a huge fan of Magosto, but the remains of the surplus of chestnuts can still be seen throughout the streets of Ourense!
Carreira Popular San Martino—my first 10k
All the training definitely made my workouts more enjoyable. Just the mere fact of knowing that I was working toward something motivated me so much more to stay on track and push myself more with each run! I only ran about twice a week, but each week I added another kilometer to my run with the intention of maintaining a 7:30 mile time, assuming that once I ran the full 6.2 miles I'd easily be able to complete each mile within 8 minutes.
I wish I could bottle up the sentiments, the adrenaline, the pure joy I felt while running this race. I honestly have not felt a rush like that since playing soccer at Grinnell. I don’t remember being tired during the race, I was just on a constant mission to pass the line of people in front of me. Eventually, it was all about seeking out the next female in front of me and beating her. And anyone who knows me knows that I'm as competitive as you get! The first 2 or 3 kilometers were an absolute drag. There were so many people that you couldn’t find any vacancies to fill to try to pass people (there were over 9,000 registered for this race!). In these first kilometers I had all but ceded to the fact that there was no way I’d make my goal time of 48 minutes.
|Me immediately after the race!|
Who knows what happened exactly, but I must have turned on some secret jets. Or maybe it was the "Disco Pogo" that was playing on my iPod. The first mile couldn't have been faster than 8:30, but somehow in the end I got a time of 45:18, giving me a 7:18 mile average! Like I said, who knows what happened, but I was quite happy with my time, as you can tell from this picture :)
You may also notice that the name on my number, "Antia" is actually not mine. I didn't register for the race in time (What? The night before is too late??? Ugh so like me leave things til the last minute), so I didn't have my own official number or time chip. Luckily for me, one of the A Farixa students was a young female and didn't show up for the race! I used her chip and number, and got her 4th place in her age group (she's 18). I have yet to see this medal that people told me I earned...
I'm dying to run another race. But until then, I have brought it upon myself to eat an extra amount of pastries to make up for the one week I went without them.