Monday, December 3, 2012

Windmills! ....or giants?

This Friday, we followed in the footsteps of one of the oldest, greatest, and most insane protagonists in literature: el ingenioso hidalgo, Don Quixote.  Except, of course, for the fact that we were in a tour bus instead of on horseback (or donkeyback), and that our excursion only lasted for one day.  This school excursion, called La Ruta del Quixote, took us to the autonomous community of Castilla y La Mancha, where first we breakfasted at the inn which Cervantes himself supposedly visited and used as the basis for the scene in which Quixote is “knighted” by the innkeeper.  We drank some coffee while sitting on hilariously tiny stools and then watched as some of our fellow students acted out the aforementioned scene at the water trough in the courtyard of the hotel.  This was made very enjoyable by the fact that Don Quixote’s sword and shield were made of paper and his lance was, in fact, an umbrella.

Next we boarded the bus and traveled the remaining distance across the largely empty landscape of La Mancha until we reached Consuegra.  Consuegra is notable for its windmills, its castle, and its vast variety of hot chocolate flavors.  We filed off of the bus and posed for some very chilly pictures on the windy ridge with the windmills.  Of course, the students from the literature class had to act out Don Quixote’s most famous scene, so we all got to witness a student, armed with only a red umbrella, valiantly charging a windmill-I-mean-a-giant.

Then, castle!  I love castles.  We have been fortunate enough to see so many castles while here in Spain, and I could visit many more without losing my enthusiasm.  This castle was notable for its false doors, its water collection room, and its series of concentric walls to defend it from attackers from the time of its construction in the 10th through 12th centuries through the time when the reconquering of Spain was complete in the 15th century.

Next we got to go up inside one of the windmills and learn about how they functioned.  The whole top of the windmill could move to adjust to the direction of the wind, and a series of interlocking gears within used the power generated by the wind to move a large grinding stone and crush grain into flour.
Finally, we took a lunch break down in the town of Consuegra, which lies at the base of the ridge, down below the castle and the windmills.  There, we sampled some hot chocolate.  My white chocolate cafĂ© was delicious, but our classmates recommended against the whiskey-flavored hot chocolate, comparing it to drinking a substance that resembled melted plastic.  (This made me very happy about my choice.)

Then we headed back to Alcalá, where snow is now visible on the tops of the distant mountains.  We’ve been told that fall was mild, but this week, winter has decidedly arrived.


  1. Your trip reminded me that seeing western heritage in person--instead of at Disney World--gives you an appreciation of a society that is more than a thousand years old. From Google Earth the terrain around La Mancha looks desert like in its arridness.
    Check me on the accuracy of the following statement: The creator of the first modern novel, the first modern short story and present at the dawn of modern literature (in the Renaissance sense of modern--NOT MEDIEVAL) was CERVANTES?

    Can you, at this point right before you return home, begin to sythesize the whole experience? You might want to submit for publication when you get back.

  2. The last set of pictures were really well done. The one of Amanda and the windmills/castle was particularly good.

    When you get back home you can take the hundreds of photos to Cummings in Palm City and use their high end editing equipment to create a multimedia (sound and the illusion of motion) into a
    cohesive presentation. You could enter it in a competion. Oh. I forgot you ladies probably have a similar creative lab on the univeresity campus. Send it over to Disney or Universal post production.

    Miss Darlene at the very last minute was told that the medicinos made a miscalculation of 10 days--so as of 12/5 we all still must wait for the arrival of her son.

    Looking forward to the next entry.