Fingers, Flamingos, and Local Fun in Spain

Hi,

Things have been moving very quickly in Spain. I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve realized that I only have one month left here and a lot of things I still want to do. So, I’m going to keep this post short.

The author, pictured in a pink shirt and blue shorts, standing in front of brightly colored apartment buildings. A mural of the buildings is also behind the author.
Villajoyosa is a costal town full of brightly-colored buildings. It’s one of the most beautiful and calm towns I’ve ever been to in my life. And with my pink shirt, I fit right in.

So what’s happened this last month? Well, let’s start with my finger. A little over a month ago, I was on a class field trip for my Tourism and Food Culture class. We were at a local restaurant and had just finished making traditional Spanish tapas. As we were enjoying our delicious creations, the classmate sitting next to me wanted some water, so I grabbed the jug to pour her some. When I turned to put the jug in front of me, it collided with my wine glass, which shattered on impact. 

A rock cove on the island of Tabarca. The cove forms a circle around the turquoise water. Some white buildings are in the background along with the blue sky.
Out of courtesy for the casual reader, the author has decided not to include any images of his wounded finger. Instead, this blog will only include pleasant photos…such as this one, taken of a cove on the island of Tabarca.

I don’t know exactly how the glass cut my finger, but either way it was a messy situation. Initially, I didn’t realize that I’d been cut. It was only when one of the chefs asked if I’d been cut that I looked down at my bloody finger. Quietly and quickly, I rushed to the bathroom to avoid a scene. 

A saltwater lake with a slight pink tint. White foam from the salt covers the shoreline.
The pink saltwater lake of Torrevieja. Although the water wasn’t very pink that day, the foam from the salt was really neat…and fun to step in.

The restaurant employees tended to my finger very well, helping me cover up the wound and giving me sweets to prevent dizziness. But after about 15 minutes in the bathroom, they told me I’d have to go to a medical clinic nearby to get stitches.

Thankfully, there was a clinic just down the block where I was able to receive emergency services. I had a really cool Cuban doctor and while he stitched my finger up, we talked about our countries. Also, it was funny to see him giving instructions to a young medical student, who was having trouble opening the packaged materials for the procedure. The procedure was very quick: anesthetic, four stitches, pay, fill out the claim form online, and get reimbursed fully by the insurance company (included in my study abroad program). So, despite the brief but intense burning pain of the anesthetic, it was quite an enriching cultural experience.

A flamingo walks in a saltwater lake. The flamingo has a white body with pink tail feather and feet. The water is a brownish-red color.
A wild flamingo in one of the saltwater lakes of Santa Pola. It was difficult to get to the lakes, but the trip was well worth it.

On a less gruesome note, I’ve been doing lots of traveling nearby. Just in the last few weeks, I’ve been to Villajoyosa, the island of Tabarca, Torrevieja, Santa Pola, and Alcoi. Among my favorites to visit was Villajoyosa, a precious coastal town of about 30,000 people with colorful buildings and a laid back beach vibe. I also really enjoyed hiking in the mountains of Alcoi with my Japanese flatmate. Last weekend, we spent over four hours soaking in the views and wildlife. The next day, I went with an American friend to Santa Pola, a coastal town full of foreigners and retirees. There, we visited some saltwater lakes, where we saw WILD FLAMINGOS! Although we had to walk through brush and play frogger on a busy highway, the flamingos were well worth the pain. 

One of the most special parts about studying abroad is being able to spend a long period of time in a foreign community. With time and effort, you start to become part of the community and make meaningful friendships with the local people. I think that short trips, like the ones I’ve done these past few weeks, are really great for experiencing new things and interacting with your local host community. Oftentimes, you can gain really interesting cultural insights and see many fascinating things nearby. Plus, with local travel you’ll save lots of money, time, and energy!

A panoramic view of the city of Alcoi from above. Many light-colored buildings compose the landscape. Some mountains are in the background, along with some white clouds.
The city of Alcoi, pictured from the mountain trails. We saw many mesmerizing views and even vultures in a nature reserve.

With that being said, I’d also encourage future study abroad students to do the occasional long-distance trip. Local travel is great, but to get a more complete picture of your host country’s landscape, culture, and history, I think it’s important to spend a weekend or two in other areas. 

It’s a bit late here and I’m tired, so I’ll sign off for now.

Buenas noches,

David