On the 19th of December, 2018, Midshipmen 1/C Fabiola Duran Juache, 1/C Jace Erlanson, and 2/C Candace Gordon boarded a plane to Spain with LCDR Martínez Ibáñez, Spanish exchange Officer, for an adventure that would be treasured for a lifetime.
The three Midshipmen did not know what to expect and could only think of the most generic and widely known “Facts about Spain”; bull-runs, soccer, and Rota as the main components of Spain prior to the trip. LCDR Martínez Ibáñez showed the three Midshipmen that those three aspects of Spain merely scratch the surface of what this country has to offer.
As this trip took place during Winter Break, the Midshipmen chose to give up their leave and holiday celebrations with their respective families in order to experience the holiday season in the way traditionally celebrated by Spanish natives. However, the holiday activities were not the only thing that would spark the interest of these Midshipmen.
Along with the dinner, the Midshipmen were also able to partake in the festivities that went on through the night. Throughout the night, LCDR Martínez Ibáñez, and his family, were telling the Midshipmen about many of the Christmas traditions that were unique to the Spanish culture.
They also showed interest in wanting to learn the American Christmas traditions, so the family asked the Midshipmen to describe their own family traditions. The Midshipmen were also able to visit the Submarine Base that is located in Cartagena and a local beach.
After Cartagena, the group hit the road and headed north to Madrid, the capital of Spain. However, on the way there, they took a detour to the beautiful city of Toledo.
Here, they got the chance to explore the region and learn about the historical landmarks such as the Toledo Cathedral, the Alcázar of Toledo, Puerta de Bisagra, and Puerta del Sol. The history of some of these landmarks dates back to the 3rd century.
The Midshipmen’s adventure ended with their last stop in Pontevedra, located in the northwest region of Galicia. It was at this stop that they got to celebrate New Year’s Eve and Day with LCDR Martinez Ibañez’s friends and their families. They instantly treated them as if they were part of their own families. In Spain they have a tradition that consists of eating 12 grapes at midnight, as dictated by the bells of the clock located at the Puerta del Sol, for good luck. Candace, Fabiola, and Jace got the chance to partake in this tradicion, and truly enjoyed it.