Student News

Spain #6: Song and Laughter

Paulina Baltazar – March 14, 2019

Caroline Skillman ’19 reflects on the “simplicity” of building relationships through great food, good music, and shared stories.

This morning, after breakfast in our Simancas hotel, and after getting two of our friends out of bed after they overslept, we departed and drove to Valladolid to visit cloistered nuns in one of the major Discalced Carmelite convents started by Saint Teresa of Avila. This was truly a once in a lifetime experience, since cloistered nuns do not usually receive visitors or come into contact with the outside world as an important aspect of their committed life. Paco Diez, an amazing musician and historian, scheduled this special visit for us. After talking with the nuns for a long time about their daily lives and their reasons for joining the convent, as well as their spiritual connection to Saint Teresa, we drove to Paco’s musical instruments museum.

Paco maintains and curates this museum, which is connected to his home, and he has a vast collection of historical instruments from all over the Iberian Peninsula. He picked up and played every instrument with such ease and precision: flutes, drums, guitars, fiddles… it’s better not to list the instruments he does play because the list of ones he doesn’t is probably shorter. After a tour through his museum, we went to his bodega. His bodega is nothing like what we consider a bodega in the US. Bodega here in Spain means wine cellar, so his bodega was far underground and cold, outfitted with a kitchenette and space for eating, and big enough to fit our 16 person group.

After a wonderful meal of chorizo, bread, salad, and chicken, we sat around and listened to Paco play guitar and sing. Then, it turned into hours of all of us singing, mostly our group musicians Morgan and Sam, but also a few others – including Jordan Romm, our friend who helped to organize the entire journey. This experience, in Paco’s bodega, with all of us together singing and having such genuine fun, uninhibited by technology, and absent of other thoughts, was such a special moment on this trip.

Our incredible Wednesday was capped off by dinner in the Plaza Mayor of Simancas where we shared stories, laughed (as we do a lot), had good food, and toasted to each other with the Sandal of Simplicity, the symbol of our trip.