Experiencing Spain and Her People

By Amarilys S.
Group 5

Day one of Burgos and the city immediately gripped my heart and attention. The rich history and easy to navigate streets instantly made me love this city. I danced Bachata with Burgos locals and they loved it, and I began to feel a part of this city. But the highlight of my night was when we left Patilla’s and the people I was with decided to go see the Castillo del Burgos at night. The steps to this castillo were steep and brutal on the legs but what was coming would be worth the burning calf. We walked up for what seemed forever before arriving to the steepest most unforgiving steps I’ve ever seen. Yet I kept hearing how great the view was so I climbed those steps. Upon reaching the overlook of the lower part of the Castillo my breath caught and for a moment I realized this is it, this is why I’m here. Experiencing Spain and her people, her culture. While looking over the vast city scape and the surrounding farmland, everything seemed to slow and make sense, that view made me think of my reasons, my call to be on this trip. Since that night, I’ve made those grueling steps three more times. Because now, the Castillo will have a special place in my mind and forever remind me of my goal during this Camino trip.

In the morning, as part of our welcome to Spain by the University of Burgos, our group was treated to a tour of the old pilgrim’s hospital on campus — Las Huelgas. The Spanish student who gave the tour made special effort to point out to us how important the old hospital was to pilgrims along the Camino. The space where the hospital was built has contained a variety of buildings over the centuries, including a mosque and a fort. I imagine the old hospital was a welcome relief for weary pilgrims and a comforting shelter until they could continue with their journey.

Today’s adventure in Burgos began with a what the Spaniards here would call a short walk and the Americans know as a car rides distance away — from our dorms to the main University campus, we trekked it. Later in the day and after a nap for many of us, all who wanted to join left the dorms for El Museo de la Evolución Humana. And let me tell you, this place is cool beans! Stepping foot into the enormous building my eyes were immediately captured by the brightness and openness of the space. Large windowed walls on the left and right along with its white interior contributed to the museum’s polished modern look. The ground floor includes a guided tour filled with local artifacts and information about the first known Europeans who roamed this area hundreds of thousands of years ago. As our group climbed the floors of the museum we were presented with life size renditions of the evolution of our early human-ish ancestors species, as well as displays explaining DNA, Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and our history with chimpanzees. The top floor included exciting hands-on exhibits about space, stars and even included educational computer programs for children. Overall the museum exhibits were displayed very nicely though their collection of artifacts was rather small. It’s a daily new place and has so much potential for growth and definitely the space to do so.

After going through the tour of the museum we visited today, the guide told us there was one more exhibit we could check out on the fourth floor. It happened to be about black holes, a subject I know all too well being an astrophysics major. The guide told us all the information was in Spanish, but being a Spanish speaker, I had the ability to translate and talk about this information. I was immediately excited and tried to gather people to go up to the exhibition with me. Upstairs, as I looked around the exhibition I realized that the one obstacle to this endeavor was my lack of preparation in the material there, so I simplified the task to translating or explaining anything anyone was interested in. This proved to be fun, as it brought together my native language and the area of study that I am in, although it was difficult explaining certain concepts of relativity and the fabric of time and space to people who do not study the field of astronomy.