This week has been full of the traditional Easter parades, plus two new cities!

Domingo de ramos, or Palm Sunday, saw us making the two hour journey down to Elx to see the best procession in the Comunidad Valenciana. The majority of the palm leaves were made into sculptures, often showing one of the stations of the cross, which was pretty cool! Then we explored the city a bit, looking at the cathedral and the huerto del cura, which is a massive palm tree plantation, which was really tranquil, until the peacocks started singing! Also, the peacock that I saw was as white as the snow.

Wednesday was the last day in school and the kids had a book-themed day. All the teachers dressed up as pirates and there was a gymkhana and book readings and then after lunch there was a second hand book sale where I bought 3 books, one by Isabel Allende, a Sherlock Holmes book translated into Spanish (un estudio en escarlata) and a book in Valencian. Oh yeah, I also signed up to do the B1 exam in Valencian the 27th of May… Wish me luck!

The YARP (Year Abroad Research Project, which is basically a form of torture inflicted on us poor Soton Erasmus students by the faculty, which basically doesn’t let us enjoy 7 of the 8 months that we are here because we are worrying about a 6.000 word investigative project that is worth 1/7 of our entire degree, cheers Soton.) has started to take shape finally! 4.336 words down and three weeks left!

Yesterday we went to Hellín, the self-styled Ciudad del Tambor (city of the tambourine), in the province of Albacete, Castilla- La Mancha. There was a massively long procession (2 and a half hours) but it was really pretty! There were 16 sculptures, including parts of the Via Crucis and the various virgins (have I ever mentioned that Spain has an obsession with the vigin?) theres the dolorosa, the pena, the soledad and many others. The various Cofrades passed by dressed in the ku klux klan-esque robes and hoods, which were then swiftly followed by the goose-stepping Guardia Civil.

I’ve also been to the beach a fair few times now that the Easter weather has finally come around (31º yesterday evening) and it turns out that even though there are times that I almost think I’m Spanish, I’ve still got a looooong way to go to match their skin’s capabilities. Laura instantly tanned, while I turned a lovely shade of gamba (Prawn). Ah well, I’ll just stay here in the shade applying copious amounts of Aloe Vera to my half-burnt legs..

So, that brings me to the here and now. In around 1 and a half hours we shall be leaving the beach-side town of Cullera, and heading towards Portugal! First stop, Ávila, just to the north west of Madrid, before going to Ciudad Rodrigo (one of the ten prettiest cities in Spain), Almeida (Portugal), Salamanca, San Martín de Castañar, Bejar, La Alberca, La Peña de Francia, Plasencia and Aranjuez, before returning to Cullera for a day and then heading north to Zaragoza, to relive Fallas!