The following was written by TCA freshmen (now sophomore) Nat Baird in November & December 2016, during the academy’s time in Spain. The goal of the following snippets is to describe a few of the many experiences we had in Spain in few words.
Already full from the abundance of cured meats and anti-pastas, Pep begins to bring out large plates of pasta accompanied with tomato sauce and beef. The sight as well as the aroma of the salty, but sweet arrangement, makes me water at the mouth. I eagerly begin to shovel the food into my mouth; disregarding the fact that just five minutes ago I thought that I could never eat again. With the food in front of me now gone, I start to nod off, clearly suffering from Pep’s fantastic pasta sauce. I regain consciousness a few minutes later but now I have a plate of cream puffs in front of me, anxious but also delighted I accept the challenge ahead of me….
While in Ulldemolins we were fortunate enough to have dinners similar to this one every night. It is nice to know that after trying hard in school and on the rock we will be able to have food that our cooks Pep and Mariano tried just as hard on. Thank you guys!
As the beautiful town of Ulldemolins turns from our windshield to our rear view mirror I start to think about the adventure to be had in my final few weeks at The Climbing Academy. The winding roads flow like a river through the beautiful country side of Cataluña; each twist and turn providing sights normally found on desktop wall papers and in magazines. The constant movement of the car soon sends me to sleep and when I wake up I am greeted by rows of trees all in the midst of changing colors. Aside from the constant smell of manure, the Spanish countryside is unlike anywhere else in the world. Vibrant colors accompanied with Tom’s music of choice makes for an exciting car ride to Albarracín.
As we depart from El Fuente the mood is a mix of sadness as well as anticipation. Rain had washed away more than just the strategically placed chalk on the boulders of Albarracín but our climbing day too. Soon we arrive in Albarracín and we are immediately overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of the Spanish town. With no plan we wander our own directions, admiring the intricate design dancing across the walls of the tight alleyways. At one point or another we are all drawn to the great wall, traveling across town to get to this stone beast I couldn’t help but reflect on my time here in Spain. Sitting on the wall letting the rain wash away any emotion other than happiness, I admire my birds eye view of the foggy town of Albarracín. Before I make the hike back down I acknowledge how great this day was, making sure to soak in every ounce of culture that Spain has. We decide that we have absorbed enough rain for one day and head home to curl up by the fire.
Life at home
Early this afternoon I found myself bickering among myself for listening to Christmas music. In three days it will be past Thanksgiving and then you can listen to all the Christmas music you want, I tell myself swiftly changing the song. I let it rest and went on with the rest of my day. After I finish up my physics home work and move to the back of the house to bask in the sweet fire. I then move to see Tom take on Jonah in a hard fought battle of chess. Life here in Albarracín is surprisingly different than in Ulldemolins, where we would often be found watching a movie on the couch or in a group effort to get the math homework done. Whereas in Aibarracin everyone seemed to go there own ways with their time, curling up with a book, playing chess, or watching Netflix among the favorite options. As I went to sleep that night the Christmas music conundrum kept playing out in my head like a broken record. I was able to put it to rest when I realized that if that was the most of my problems life was good. I went bed hoping that the next day would be as good as my last one.
With the plans of climbing out the window Benoit, Tanner, Kieran and I set off, not sure what we were going to find in the next few hours. After walking a few blocks we stop by a tourist shop for some Christmas shopping; I buy a bracelet, model statue, and a clay bull. We then proceed to walk around until we give into our hunger. After eating food we burn the next hour or so chatting and catching up, it surprises me that although we spend all our time together we don’t have much time for regular conversation between school and climbing. The day winds down with tours of some towers twice as old as the United States–accompanied by views of the town Teruel. It is days like these that I will look back on when I reminisce about my time in Spain with The Climbing Academy.
With tensions high we all go about our own ways of preparing for the final tests of the semester. Some play it off, making sure to constantly reassure them selves that they know there material as they nervously watch Reel Rock and play Minecraft. While others continue to cram information in, assuring themselves that they don’t forget anything. After each test the tensions seem to get a little bit lower; like a balloon periodically letting out air. I wonder if this is for the best, I would rather think about the test that I will likely bomb than regular school back in Boise. As the night progresses, people become more relaxed and liven up a little, talking about ouija or whatever obscure conversation topics are brought up until we are sent to our rooms for the night.
As we wrap up our time here at the climbing academy I find my self trying to sum up the past six weeks with in the confines of a couple hundred words. Even though this is what I wanted to accomplish with this project, it is just now dawning on me that it is quite impossible to capture the essence of Spain with in a series of hundred word stories. We have been fortunate enough to have so many amazing experiences with so many amazing people, which in turn has made it difficult for me to pick out the moments that capture Spain the best. I will look back on my time at The Climbing Academy and remember moments playing soccer, climbing great walls, and hanging out with good friends.
Photos my Nic Manship