The end of our trip was a lot of traveling, a lot of singing, and hardly any access to wifi. While it was mainly sitting around, it was still a wonderful time.
Thursday, we left at seven in the morning to drive 8 hours to the next location. Before we went to the place we were staying, we stopped in the city Toledo. It was a medieval town that still had a lot of the original builds. What was significant about this city was it was a place where Muslims, Jews, and
Christians all lived in harmony without any fighting. There was architecture that was inspired by each culture throughout the city. We got the chance to visit the one Jewish synagogue that was turned into a museum and then walk around the city on our own before meeting up for dinner at one of the local restaurants. We then left to go to the church who was hosting us.
The next day, we went to the palace of King Philip the II. We spent a good portion of the morning exploring that and learning about how he was against the protestants. My favorite section was the library and the grand staircase. We went back for lunch and then packed up to go to our concert venue. This concert was to be featured on the local news channel in the 15 minute religious segment the next morning. The concert went well and then we had a bittersweet goodbye as some of the orchestra members weren’t coming to the last concert.
The next morning, we left to go back towards Barcelona for our last concert. We quickly stopped at the church that was helping to host us before we headed to the venue. Not he bus there, we decided to sing “Total Praise” not only in Spanish and English but also in Catalan. Catalan is the language people speak in the Barcelona area, the area that is currently fighting for independence. We chose the sing it is Catalan because that morning Madrid had decided to enact Article 155, taking away Catalonia’s government. We wanted to show our respect to the Catalonian’s by honoring their language but also bring unity by singing in both languages. It was truly a magical moment that touched many people in the audience and on stage.
The end of the concert was also bittersweet. It was our last night and for many of us, it was our last chance to see the orchestra members and others who were a part of the project but not coming back to America. For me, the most difficult goodbye was with Patricia, the Soprano soloist. Because of being the alto soloist, I was given the opportunity to talk and interact with her more than most people. She didn’t have a great grasp on English, and I don’t have much of a grasp on Spanish, so most of our conversations were a lot of hand movements and a combination between Spanish and English on both sides. It was quite humorous! But we connected and we helped each other and encouraged it other. After the first concert, she taught me that bravissime was for women and bravissimo was for men. So after our last concert, I went up to her to say goodbye and she pulled me into the biggest hug and started crying. We had a wonderful moment; I told her “bravissme” (which led to more crying), she told me she was so thankful we were able to meet, and we stood there hugging for quite sometime. Even though we had a difficult communicating at times, we definitely had gained a relationship that we would not have had if God had brought all of this together exactly the way he did.
Our last night we had home-stays. Several families of the church we had connected with had volunteered to host us. My friend Britt (who I roomed with all trip) and I had such a wonderful family. The man we stayed with taught English at school so he was fluent, his wife was from the Basque Country in northern Spain and she was really into quilting, painting, and other crafty things, and they had two sons, 15 and 17. They had the cutest little house! She had painted the walls and had quilts and other things hanging up. She had painted her one table. The sink and shower had lights on the faucets that changed colors. It was the cutest, most colorful little house I’ve ever seen! And the best part? They had two cats! They cooked us a wonderful meal that night and we enjoyed conversation with them before going to bed. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. I wish we had more time to spend with the family’s, as it gave us more of an insight into the normal lives of Spaniards.
The next morning, we met up at the church and headed to the airport. It was a relatively short time before we boarded the plane and made the trip home. It was a sad time for some people, for others it was a relief to be heading back to their own beds, but this trip impacted all of our lives in a very significant way. And most importantly, it impacted the lives of many Spaniards. We now pray that they continue to benefit from our trip there and for the people of Catalonia as the political unrest only builds.