a wandering woman writes

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Here's Home

Take heed, daughter, that you are in Salamanca, which is known all over the world as mother of science and of ordinary things. There, eleven or twelve thousand students live and study, among whom you'll find those who are young, enthusiastic, capricious, enterprising, wasteful, discreet, fiendish and good-natured people. Miguel de Cervantes

The classic Salamanca photo: a view back to the old city from the Roman Bridge. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

I haven't met everybody on Cervantes' list yet but I'll agree they're likely all here!

Salamanca is a small provincial capital - about 160,00 residents with another 30,000 students at the University - but she's got all the bustle, most of the tourists (largely Spanish) and a lot of the attitude of a much larger city. The town's always been well-known for its prestigious University -the second oldest in Europe, after Bologna - although these days Salamanca attracts equal attention as the home of the "purest" Castellano.

The streets are filled with language students - old and young, traveling alone or as roving hoards of college-age Americans and gap-year holandeses. All of this makes Salamanca an easy place to be an expat - since Salmantinos are used to foreigners -and a difficult place as well. Some locals are openly hesitant to befriend guiris (foreigners, particularly English-speaking foreigners), worried we'll just move away again. Like it's not worth the investment if there's no guarantee of longevity!

Anyway, I live just to the right in this photo: Cross the bridge in the direction we are headed, then take a quick right along the river bank before before climbing into the city. Duck behind a pretty little Romanesque church - iglesia Santiago, now garishly covered in bricks, (BAD restoration decision a hundred years ago) - and there I am.

Through this week I'll post more photos of my "mother of science and ordinary things".

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