Julie Lynberg, Jerilyn Izac, Serene Cherian on the Camino at an overlook of Astorga.
by Kelsey Brandt
We walked on a very straight, flat road almost the whole day, with farms on both sides. Crops of different varieties were just beginning to sprout. On either side of the road ran irrigation channels providing water for these plants to grow. As I’m studying to be a civil engineer with a focus on water resources, these particularly piqued my nerdy interest. I was surprised to see such a system still in use, since the channels have obviously been in place for quite a while. Although the channels are beautiful and provided a nice backdrop to our walking, completely open irrigation channels are one of the least efficient ways to provide irrigation since the water is very susceptible to evaporation, especially here where the sun is strong. Southern Spain is experiencing a water shortage similar to what’s happening in the southwest US, and as I walked I found myself dreaming big about how I could help ease their water crisis if I could implement an irrigation system that covered the water and reduced evaporation losses. However, it is a difficult balance between historical tradition and new technologies. Those channels have been there for years and are a part of the farming culture of Spain. Someday I hope to be able to study Spain’s water system in depth, including why their water towers are cone shaped and how their water is treated to be even better than water in the US, and to ultimately be a part of finding the balance between tradition and technology so that Spain can continue to have clean water without sacrificing its history. For now though, I just hope tomorrow brings less blisters and more engineering!
Toledo was absolutely gorgeous. A quaint medieval town, when I walked through the narrow cobblestone streets I felt like I was traveling back through time. The cathedral, however, was what really brought the feeling on. When I walked through the giant and intricately carved doors, I could clearly visualize people hundreds of years in the past walking through them to attend Sunday Mass. Its incredible how much the original architecture has remained in place. Obviously restorations have been done, but they are not noticeable at all. The cathedral appears exactly as it must have been five hundred years ago.
When I walked inside I was immediately in awe at the absolute magnificence of its structure. The ceilings are so tall; my neck is sore from looking up for too long. The main altarpiece, however, was what truly stuck out to me. Floor to ceiling, the entire wall is covered in paintings and sculptures all covered in gold. With the splendor of the altarpiece and the size and design of the organ (biggest one I have ever seen) I can only imagine that attending services there are extremely intense and moving.
I think that the cathedral really is what made Toledo so special to me. The whole atmosphere of walking down the streets with its flying buttresses in view gave me that warm fuzzy feeling that only happens when something magnificent has struck me. I loved Toledo for that reason: the feeling of traveling back in time from the cathedral really was something magical.
Did you know this about today, May 21:
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) in partnership with UNESCO and a wide coalition of partners from corporations to civil society is launching the world campaign “Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion,” aimed at engaging people around the world to Do One Thing to support Cultural Diversity and Inclusion.
This day raises awareness on the richness of world cultures and the opportunities that cultural diversity can bring to societies. This study abroad opportunity to the El Camino, offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, is living this campaign to its fullest.
What have you done today?