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!
By Ashley Cordero:
Today we backpacked through a more agricultural side of the Camino compared to yesterday’s hilly countryside. On either side of the path there was farmland for what seemed to be miles upon miles. We walked by as farmers went about their day tending to their crops and we saw the occasional herd of animals grazing. As we continued to walk there was the occasional small town that would pop up. It made me think about the relationship between the peregrinos (aka pilgrims) and the residents of the small towns that have sprouted up along the Camino during the middle ages. To us tourists/peregrinos, Spain and the Camino are fun, new experiences and a nice vacation from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. However, for many towns along the Camino, our vacation is their livelihood. Many pilgrim routes acted as a route of trade and commerce years ago. Now, with what seems to be an exponential growth in the use of internet, cars, airplanes, and highways, these routes are less in demand and no longer necessary for trade and commerce. These little towns find themselves fading into the background. The pilgrims that travel the Camino have filled in these economic losses and have come to serve as a primary source of income for these towns. Pilgrims and residents rely on one other for support and strength. I am glad to experience such bonds and relationships with people along the way.
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?