The months of September to December are my favorite time of year, and not just because my birthday falls in October. ;) The season with shortening days, crisp leaves and sweater weather will always be the best in my book.
This fall has been full of lots of new experiences and also regular day to day routine. Logroño is still a lovely place, with it's charms, vices and good food. My parents visited in late September and we visited the surrounding towns and also the town where I work. I think they understand why I love region now that they've really seen some of the landscapes and towns.
I've been doing a lot of "soul-searching" I guess you could say, as I try to figure out what comes next for me. I'm not planning on doing this program again next year (2020-2021) and so I'm trying to "plan" my next steps. Graduate school? Teaching english? Going back to the States? We'll see. There are so many factors involved, it's hard to wrap my head around it most of the time. For now, I'm going to focus on enjoying the holidays and spending time with family.
October and November were hiking months. I spent time with my Chinese teacher and her husband strolling (and sometimes truly climbing) the beautiful foothills and canyons of La Rioja and País Vasco. My body didn't always cooperate, but I'm glad I was at least able to go on a few hikes.
In October I joined Chinese teacher and her husband on a beach trip near Santander in the Cantabria region. The beach was gorgeous and the rock formations were fascinating. I could've spent all day exploring the cavernous, winding outcrops and finding sea-life. The water was oh so cold, but it was clear and calming. It was cloudy most of the day, but of course the sun came out right after my sunscreen was wearing off. Guess who wound up with very burned shoulders and back? That was real fun the next day... At the end of the day we ate just off the beach in a park with the portable cook-stove and delicious food my friends had packed.
In terms of school trips, the big trip this fall for the kids was to the Salinas de Añana (The Salt Valley of Añana). This salt valley is up for recognition as a UNESCO world heritage site due to it's history and preservation. The caretakers pride themselves in using the same methods and materials for "harvesting" and drying the salt that have been used for centuries in that location. The guides also claim that salt was first mined there more than 7000 years ago, and while the site was abandoned for a period in the 19th century, it was brought back to life by he end of the 20th.
The kids had a ton of fun running around the salt flats and helping to spread salty water and collect salt from flats that had already dried. I have to say, salt really hurts on bare feet! ;) The kids were also absolutely fascinated by how salt crystalizes on everything and almost looks like snow. It was a great outing, even if we almost had several kids (and adults) get heatstroke from being out in the sun for hours without hats or water (not smart on our part). In the end everyone got to spend time in the salt spa and went home worn out and happy.
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An aspiring polyglot and globetrotter, an avid reader, and a lover of good food. :)