This past weekend, we were lucky enough to travel as a group to several destinations in Asturias and the nearby autonomous region of Cantabria. Our last Temple excursions were those we went on while in Madrid for our program orientation, so it was quite meaningful to travel all together once more before the program wraps up. Jaime had been telling us about this trip all semester, and I honestly can’t believe that it already has somehow come and gone. For me, that’s a true marker that the semester is nearly over.
As we boarded a small bus at 9am on Saturday and embarked on our journey, I put my headphones in and watched the landscape roll by. I’ve always loved listening to music and gazing out windows on trips, and on this specific occasion, there was something extremely nostalgic about it. I thought back to our first bus rides together in Madrid, and how our group has gone from complete strangers to a family bonded by circumstance. Our bus brought us high into the mountains, and eventually I closed my eyes, fending off motion sickness as the roads grew windier and windier.
After about an hour and a half we reached our first destination, Cabrales. This was possibly the best stop on the trip, because it was all about cheese. This little town produces some of the most amazing cheese in the world, and we spent the afternoon touring around the village and mountain meadows discussing the history of the region and its cheesemaking. I was a little afraid of sampling it when I found out it was aged in caves, but decided to try it in the end. It was some of the strongest but most scrumptious cheese I have ever tasted. We tasted it along with locally harvested honey and fresh Asturian corn cakes, and finished off our lunch with other rustic Asturian specialities like Bacalao (a type of fish) and Morcilla (blood sausage).
Minds full of cheese facts and bellies full of delicious Asturian food, we all piled back on the bus to head to the town of Potes for the night. Here we were able to decompress and explore, recharging for the day to come. On Sunday we had the opportunity to explore the cliffs of Bufones de Pría and tour through the Caves of Tito Bustillo, home of some of the oldest and best preserved cave paintings in all of Europe. I could barely wrap my head around what I was learning- apparently the oldest of the paintings there is around 40,000 years old.
On our drive back to Oviedo we stopped at a breathtaking overlook called Mirador del Pito. I sat silently and looked out over the mountains and the sea, trying to soak in the moment as much as I could. “I’m going to miss my life here,” I thought.
It was a beautiful weekend of closure, and I’m grateful that we still have one more weekend left here in Oviedo. We are entering our second to last week, and the reality of the end is hitting me.
How time flies! Check back in for some final posts about the end of the semester 🙂