Comunidades

Por: Alonso Helmbrecht

Experience

I choose to watch The Way for my comunidades. This movie is about a father whose son dies in the Pyrenees in Spain while hiking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across northern Spain. Even though the father was not prepared for the months of hiking nessessary to complete the journey, he took his sons gear and completed the hike in his memory. Along the way he met many knew people from across the world, experienced the landscape and cultures of Spain, and scattered his son's ashes in special spots along the hike.

What I learned

I learned a lot about the hike itself, different cultures, and interesting areas of Spain. The pilgrimage has taken place since the middle ages and every year since. Most people start in the Pyrenees but you can really start anywhere you want. The hike travels through many villages and cities in northern Spain and extends from el Pais Vasco to Galicia. There was also an interesting part that showed the misconceptions Europeans have about gypsies.

Takeaway

I have been on backpacking trips during the summer and I love to travel so I was interested in watching this movie because it struck me as something I might want to do someday. Thanks to this movie I now know a lot about the hike and what is necessary to complete it. Also if I do a summer abroad in spain it would be nice to know what is going on and to know about spanish culture and customs.

Glorias

Experience

I went to Gloria's with my family for my Comunidades. Gloria's is a restaurant in uptown that features both Tex-Mex and Salvadorian food.  Since Tex-Mex is nothing new for us we tried things from the Salvadorian menu. I tried the Camerones, a pupusa, and a fried plantain. There wasn't much else to learn about the culture of El Salvador besides the things on the menu as Gloria's is a modern restaurant.

What I learned

I learned a lot about Salvadorian cuisine through this visit. The food was much different from an average Mexican restaurant like Mi Cocina. For example, I had a dish called Camerones, which is shrimp, and I also had a pupusa to start. A pupusa is similar to a quesedilla and was basically a small warm corn tortilla infused with cheese. On the side of the dish, there was yucca and fried plantain.

Takeaway

This experience showed me that not all Latin food is similar and different areas might have completely different cuisine. I now know what to expect from Salvadorian food. The restaurant didn't have much in the way of culture but there was a few paintings in a Latin art style. Knowing that Latin cuisine is different from Tex-Mex is great because getting the two mixed up could be rude to others.

Festivals

Experience

For my final comunidades I watched various videos online over La Tomatina and the Festival of San Fermin. The videos depicted several aspects about the background of both the festivals and what goes on. The video on Tomatina reported on the history, the amount of tomatoes, the city of Bunol, and the people that attend the festival. The video on San Fermines talked more about everything that happens during the week long event as well as show the famous running of the bulls.

What I learned

I learned a lot about the histories of each festival. The San Fermin video showed more of what goes on including: the music, the procession of San Fermin, the masses, the parties, and the stereotypes surrounding the festival. It had interviews with different people, some who came to party, and others who had experienced San Fermin many times and wanted to express that it is not all about partying. I also witnessed the running of the bulls, and I was very surprised that so many people partake in such a dangerous event, and that the event continues to go on even though many people are seriously hurt every year. I saw many people fall over and get trampled as well as many people running into others, yet few gorings. I can now see why the encierro creates an adrenaline rush like no other. The video on Tomatina explored the history of the event and what it takes to run successfully year after year. The city has to import millions of tomatoes every year. The video depicted the ship-yard like area where boxes on boxes are stacked all containing tomatoes, and how they are all dumped into the back of large trucks that drive slowly down the main street of the city to dump the tomatoes on festival goers. The video also talked about exactly who comes to the festival, saying that a majority are within 18-35 years old and many come from different countries like the US or Japan. I learned that there are copies of Tomatina in other countries like the US.

Takeaway

As I love to travel, learning about these festivals was great, because I might be interested to attend one of them one day. I have been to Europe before, but never to Spain. I would love to go to Spain to test my Spanish and experience the culture we have been learning about all year. Having the knowledge to choose to watch the encierro from a balcony instead of from the street might save my life one day so I am glad I got to learn more about the multitude of festivals that take place every year around the globe.

Conclusion

My two favorite things to learn about this year in comunidades were the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain and the Festival de San Fermines in Pamplona. El Camino was my favorite thing to learn about because I would actually want to do it someday. It involved many thing I think are really interesting such as exploring the countryside, the different cultures of Spain, the christian faith, as well as traveling and meeting new people. Also getting to learn about something like this through a good movie was really nice. The running of the bulls during the Festival of San Fermin was really interesting to learn about. I think the Encierro is one of the craziest things that people continue to do year after year. The festival itself was very interesting to learn about as well, with a week filled with centuries old traditions and parties in the streets. I loved learning about different cultures and communities throughout the latin world.

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