We had a very intresting trip to Spain. It started out with a silly mistake. We missed our plane. This is the 3rd airplane incident for me in a row. Perhaps its a sign that it's time to slow down the travel schedule--which is what we have done starting this month. I have just one small 36 hour trip (by train to central Germany) in the next two months. Hooray!
In the Ukraine, my plane aborted the take-off because of birds around the runway. I then missed my connecting flight back to Berlin. On our way to Egypt, our Lufthansa plane was next in line to take off, but because it turned 10PM in Frankfurt and there's a curfew, the flight was postponed until the next day. And then on this trip to Spain, we decided to go to Starbucks and get something to eat before our early flight. We took about 3 minutes too long at Starbucks and arrived at our gate late. We would have to fly out the next day. Stupid, stupid mistake.
But part of me was actually relieved. It would mean one more day at home between the Egypt and Spain trips. We spent that extra day doing nothing which was great. We then flew out the next day and arrived in Madrid at noon. From the airport, we started our 5 hour drive South toward the coastal city of Almeria in Andalusia where our 3W Event was to be held.
On our way there, we stopped in Granada, Spain. Granada is considered Spain's most beautiful town and it is rich in history. Spain for a long period of time was conquered by Muslim invaders. For 800 years, the Muslims ruled much of Spain and Spain was a place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived peacefully side by side. All of that ended when the Spaniards retook Spain cumulating in a giant battle in Granada in 1492. Queen Isabel I and King Ferdinand II then set about unifying the country and turning it into Modern Spain.
It was at Granada that Christopher Columbus received his orders to set sail to discover the passage to India. Instead, of course, he discovered the New World and all that the Spanish explorers discovered in the ensuing years was claimed for Spain and the Catholic Church. This ushered in the age of European global empires with Spain eventually having territories from Costa Rica to the Philippines.
This period of Spanish history is my favorite historical period, so it was a great thrill for me to visit the crypts where Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand are buried together. It was hard to believe that in those little wooden boxes were the remains of two of the most significant monarchs (perhaps the most significant global monarchs) in history. I wanted to ask for an autograph but it was useless.
Granada still has an old town on the hill that is knows as the ancient Muslim quarter--the Albayzin. We wandered through the alleys and streets, and Marco and I drank from a well that is still functioning even though it was built in the 1100's by the Muslim conquerers. One of the reasons Granada became the center of Spain for a time was because of the availability of natural spring water in what is otherwise a very dry, waterless region. High on the hill is the famous fortress/palace of Alhambra.
From Granada, we headed to the coastal city of Almeria where I met the Fernandez family last year. The Fernandez family are missionaries for a German mission agency, but Juan Carlos is from Bolivia originally and his wife Arely is from Honduras. Their 12 year old daughter Kayla and 8 year old son Iker were born in Europe. Last year, I had such a nice time getting to know their family and I was deeply impressed by them. I was very excited to have Jamie and Marco meet them because I had a feeling our two families would hit it off despite the language barrier (they don't speak English). Just as I suspected, the language barrier was no barrier at all and we all enjoyed a great time together.
The Fernandez are a wealth of information. For twenty years they have worked in Spain and they have lived in about 5 different locations. They have been particularly fascinated by the Three Worlds concept because they find themselves living and working in the Three Worlds, but were unaware of it. They work with German retirees who are very much part of the Traditional church. But they also work with South American immigrants that represent non-Western Christianity. And in their own church in Almeria, they often have post-modern/post-Christendom youth attending. All three communities of believers are very different and the framework is very different.
We have many ideas of how we could partner up with the Fernandez family in the future. We are enjoying getting to know each other and look forward to what the future has in store for us. We also met some German youth who are spending time working in various mission-fields in different countries. It's an idea that we are doing with our 3W internship, but we hope to really unveil it in its completed form once we have our next 2 couples on the mission-field. It was great to get input from them about what not to do. Sweet kids too.
Andalusia, is, of course, a very famous part of Spain. Much of this area looks like Southern Arizona (not the beautiful red Northern Arizona--Sedona). It is dry, dusty, and full of barren mountains. This is where many Westerns like "the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" were made. The landscape looks like the Western United States, but it is also an area of beaches and resorts. Next to Almeria are two resort towns: Aguadulce and Roquetas del Mar. We didn't explore as much as I thought we would because we all went into this trip exhausted (particularly me) and the temperature was about 110 degrees. Sometime I'd like to go back to this region when it is not the peak of summer. Supposedly the weather is fantastic for about 10 months of the year.
After the seminar, we packed up and drove back to Madrid--a city that Jamie and I once explored when Marco was still in the womb. He was there, but doesn't remember any of it. We went to two bullfights, and of all my travels, the bullfights are still about the most interesting cross-cultural experience I've ever had. It is a fascinating, multi-layered cultural experience. Jamie and I were absolutely riveted throughout the whole thing. This time around, we didn't have the time or the energy to get back out there, and Marco would have protested fiercely.
All in all, the trip accomplished what I had hoped for, and I really am very curious about what further things await us all in Spain.
Enjoy my usual poorly-lit, non-creative, fuzzy photographs.