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EHS students tour Spain, Morocco

Fourteen students from Elkins High School explored Spain and Morocco during this year’s Spring Break, known as “Semana Santa” (Holy Week) in Spain.

The group began and ended the tour in Madrid, visiting such places as the Royal Palace and Prado Museum. The students especially enjoyed less structured time to explore the city. They got to know things such as navigating in the “Metro” (subway) and the well-known chain department store “El Corte Ingles,” as well as mastering the art of dunking a “churro” (fried doughnut pastry strip) in thick chocolate, a Spanish tradition.

The group also visited the ancient capital of Toledo and hilltop windmills of Spain’s literary giant, don Quixote. Their time in Andalusia, the South, was spent in Arab-influenced cities of Granada, Sevilla and Cordoba. Highlights were getting to tour the Alhambra Palace in Granada and the Great Mosque in Cordoba as well as sample an array of “tapas” (hearty appetizers) and “pasteles” (pastries). The traditional music and dance of Spain came alive during an evening Flamenco show in Sevilla.

Even more memorable was witnessing the Semana Santa (Holy Week) religious processions. Spain celebrates this week with the carrying of large, heavy “floats” of Jesus and Mary statues through the streets followed by brotherhoods of costumed “penitentes,” people cloaked with pointed caps to express humility and penance.

They also spent a couple of days at the Mediterranean beach town of Torremolinos with a day trip over the Straight of Gibraltor to exotic Morocco, where they spent an afternoon being guided through the Arab “medina” (old walled city). A highlight of the trip was breaking away from their larger tour group to take a high-speed train from Madrid to Segovia to explore that medieval city for a day, especially its Roman Aquaduct and “Alcazar,” one of Europe’s most magnificent and best-preserved hilltop castles.