I’m back again with another update of my life in Spain… I can’t believe it’s been six months already! Where has the time gone?
I returned to Ponteareas on January 3rd because I wanted to experience Three Kings Day. Three Kings Day is like a second Christmas. There’s food, there’s gifts and there’s loads of merriment. What makes it even better than Christmas? There’s a parade with flying candy! I have a massive sweet tooth so anything with candy is instantly better in my books. How it works is fairly simple: the parade has different groups of people dressed up walking through the town centre and they look amazing. But what you’re really looking out for is one of the three kings or a vintage car to pass you. Why? Because they have the candy. Whenever they came near, there were kids yelling at them to throw the candy their way and I’d be standing there, playing it cool because I’m an adult. But as soon as the candy went flying, it was another story. It was every man for themselves.
Kids were scrambling left, right and centre. The more candy that got thrown, the more hyped up they would be because they would eat the candy whilst they waited. And I really tried to put up a good fight, but I was not quick enough (I blame old age) and hardly got any candy from the parade. Luckily, the next day, the cars went through the neighbourhoods and dropped off a bag of candy that I’ve been slowly making my way through until now.
In February I completed my first 10k race in Vigo. On the day of the race I was a nervous ball of energy. I was excited because it was my first ever race, and it was a chance for me to see concrete evidence of how much I had improved. But I was equally as anxious. So anxious I made frequent trips to the bathroom, which no-one ever warns you about, but is totally normal.
When I arrived, I found it very overwhelming because there were a lot of people. It was also a little intimidating because everyone seemed so professional and well trained. I was definitely freaking out and thinking about all the things that could go wrong. Which as a natural over-thinker, was very easy to do.
Though once I started running, those thoughts went away. All I had room to think about was keeping my legs moving and completing the race.
It was a very tough route. There was a lot of uphill running, with the occasional downhill. Though, I couldn’t be too happy about the downhill because I knew I would eventually have to go back up them. The race route was a loop around the area and because it was a small area, I had to do two laps to make it a 10k. By the second lap, I really really had to psyche myself up before each uphill or I would not have made it. Around just over halfway, and during my third internal pep talk, I had the sinking realisation that a half marathon would be four laps of this race. And in that moment I legit whimpered, mostly because I didn’t think I could survive four laps but also because it was too late to back out of it… my flights were already booked.
Despite all the melodrama, I did manage to finish the race and in my best time yet. I am so incredibly proud of myself for pushing through, but I would not have been able to do it without the support of my host parents. Fer who designed a training programme which I could use in the lead up to the half-marathon and Mónica, who was by my side and encouraged me throughout the entire race.
I was meant to run another 10k shortly after but due to the current circumstances it was cancelled, along with another race at the end of March and the half-marathon in April. A part of me is a little disappointed that all my training is going to waste, but at the same time I am low-key glad because I have realised along the way that my body is not equipped for competitive running. In spite of this, I have surpassed all of my expectations and I am incredibly proud of myself for training as long as I have and sticking with a schedule (more on this in a later post) and I will definitely keep running, but on a more casual basis.
Fiesta, fiesta, fiesta!
Carnival is a must-see if you ever visit Spain in February. It’s an amazing extended weekend of parties. And depending on where you are in Spain, the traditions can differ. I had friends who went to Ourense for carnival, and there’s a tradition in Ourense where they throw powder and ants that have been soaked in vinegar on you. Oh. I forgot to mention that these ants bite. If you do wonder over there for Carnival wear a morph suit, it’s the only way to escape bite-free. Despite this, Ourense is one of the best places in Galicia to spend Carnival, they have a lot of their own traditions (mostly pain-free) that are unique to the area and worth experiencing.
I decided to stay in Ponteareas though, and the celebrations did not disappoint. My favourite part of the celebration was definitely the Sunday and Tuesday, which was when the procession of troupes and floats (comparsas) paraded around the town centre. Each float took on a different theme, some were movie inspired whilst others were politically motivated. It was obvious a lot of time and effort went into these floats; the costumes everyone wore were so detailed, and they even had choreography to go along with it. It was truly amazing and I was in awe the whole time. You can see some of my favourites in the video below.
The final day of celebration is the ‘Burial of the Sardine’, the symbol of the end of carnival and everyone is dressed in black, mourning… Naturally. The Spanish really love a good party, and are equally as sad to see it end.
I didn’t have to wait long though, before the next fiesta happened. This time a medieval celebration called Arribada, which is held in Baiona and it celebrates the discovery of America. Don’t worry, I was just as confused when I heard the reasoning too. The reason why it’s celebrated, is because in 1493 the town became the first European village to know the news of the discovery of America. This year (2020) marked the 527th anniversary of the festival, which transports the town back to the medieval times. Everyone wears period costumes, there’s a food market, archery demonstrations… there’s even jousting. It’s a great atmosphere and I definitely recommend going if you are ever in the area at the beginning of March.
I feel like the last three months went by super quickly, and summer will be here before I know it… So I’m really trying to make the most of things, and make sure to live in the present and not worry too much about the future and the past. To just enjoy the time I have left because there’s only three months left before I leave Spain and head to Colombia.
Check out my highlight reel below from the past three months!
Since writing this, I have had to leave Spain earlier than planned. I hope to return before summer, and likewise still hope that I can make it to Colombia. Whatever happens, I will make the most of the situation and I am grateful for the memories created.