AN ALL-TOO-QUICK SURVEY OF SALAMANCA

Everywhere one looks in Salamanca, there is a church dome.

I’ve grumbled about Salamanca for years. It’s not Salamanca’s fault. Here’s what happened. In 2007 the annual Celebration, when the leaders from all of Globalscope’s campus ministries get together somewhere in the world, convened in Salamanca. I was given a bit part in the program and was eager be with the young people. I also was eager to visit this renowned university town. Then Naomi Kouns, who was in charge in those days, had to change the date of the meeting. Understandable. These things happen. But on the new date I had a previous commitment, so I couldn’t come to Spain. In my mind I knew Naomi couldn’t help it. But in my heart I placed all the blame on her. After all, she didn’t consult with me before setting the new date. I’ve complained about how she cheated me ever since. (She reads these posts. She’ll learn when she reads this one that I haven’t forgotten what she did to me. I’ve forgiven her, of course. I’m a Christian, so I have to. But I haven’t forgotten!)

ARTE URBANO SALAMANCA  Cody’s neighborhood. This corner street art captures the youthful spirit of ancient/modern university town.

 

So here we are a decade later, drinking in the beauty of this remarkable city of 229,000, home of the University of Salamanca (established in  AD 1218, the oldest university in Spain and the fourth oldest in Europe). UNESCO declared the Old City a World Heritage site in 1988. It deserves the honor. Today over 30,000 university students pursue their studies here. It’s a good place for Globalscope to be.

Our primary purpose for being here is to look in on En Vivo Salamanca. It’s one of Globalscope’s oldest and strongest campus ministries. Jesse and Sophie Bentley, whom you met in our last post, were founders of this one; they worked here several years before moving on to Valencia to establish En Vivo there. Today’s team is ably led by Cody Spencer, shown below with his coworkers.

En Vivo’s Tuesday evening event. You can spot the Hatless if you look closely enough.

We sat in on their weekly Tuesday evening event—and managed to stay awake. The event begins at my bedtime and goes well beyond it.  These are  young people, after all. About fifty of us crowded into the room (after devouring tapas to die for!) for singing, round table discussions, and an Easter-themed talk by Cody—in fluent Spanish.

Globalscope En Vivo Salamanca Team

Earlier in the day we met with the staff (from left to right: Sierra Yancey (visiting from Kenya), Cody Spencer, Lydia Wilson, Tamara Munroe, Karla Alejandre Olivares, Eva Puerta Lopez, Dan Dillard.) They politely asked me to say a few words. I said many.

Oh, the sights in Salamanca!

Lydia volunteered to be our tour guide on a look around the old city. We oohed and aahed our way from one historic site to the next, every turn in the street offering a new photo opportunity.

Joy commented, “How clean this city is!” She spoke the truth. Another notable feature here in the old city is the scarcity of automobiles. The streets are primarily pedestrian walkways. Lydia explained that’s because in this section there is no parking, so it’s easier for drivers to park outside and walk in. The result is a feeling of safety and spaciousness.

There are also bits of whimsy to be found if you know where to look. On the Cathedral facade, for example, among the ancient holy carvings you will spot an astronaut!

Astronaut finds his unexpected place on the Cathedral facade.
He looks even better in this closeup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not all buildings and history, though. Here and there is green relief, as in this garden. But notice the intrusion of modernity: Joy spotted a chain of locks in the garden, offering an instructive contrast between the tranquility of the flora and the anxiety with which we protect our possessions. This speaks volumes to the Lawsons on the loose these days, since between us we don’t own a single key.

Chain of locks in Salamanca park

Not far from the garden and its intrusive chain of keys we looked up to see nature getting even. In this case the agent of revenge is a stork that found the perfect place for a nest.

Stork nests on a Salamanca tower

 

 

 

 

The bird has even stored up additional building material on the lower level. You never know when a strong wind might carry away part of the nest.  As we talked about the stork, whose tail feathers you can see in the picture, Joy consistently referred to the bird as a “he.” I had to correct her. Storks are she’s, not he’s. After all, they deliver babies. A he can’t do that.

Red Cathedral doors welcome The Hat

 

 

Everywhere we looked were inviting doors or passageways enticing us to explore further, to go in deeper, to lose ourselves deliberately (not accidentally, at which we are experts) in the maze of visual feasts waiting for us.

Steps to “The Cueva de Salamanca”
A pedestrian negotiates one of the many narrow curved walking streets of Salamanca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cave of Salamanca added to the university city’s fame centuries ago. Legend has it that the devil himself taught black magic here to seven students for seven years, after which he held a drawing. The loser had to stay in the cave and serve the devil for the rest of his life. Joy didn’t know the legend when she took this picture. She just likes doorways and narrow streets.

Clock tower in Salamanca

We weren’t much interested in the devil’s lectures. Instead, we’ll remember Salamanca primarily because of the dedicated young men and women who came here to bring good news of hope and joy and love and belonging to university students preparing for their professions–and for life.

Our visit to Salamanca was much too brief. We were sorry to leave the en Vivo team, sorry to leave this fascinating old/new city.

Our little apprehensions faded into insignificance compared with the agony depicted here.

And we may have had just a touch of apprehension as we faced the challenge of finding our way back to Valencia. We traveled by trains, the Valencia-Madrid and the Madrid-Salamanca. No problem, except that in Madrid we had to transfer by the underground from one of Madrid’s train stations to the other.  It’s amazing how few English speakers there were in the train station. Finally, though, we made the transition. Now on the return trip we’d have no trouble. We’re veterans. Wrong. Once again we needed help. And once again we got it.  So made it, finally, both coming and going. We congratulated ourselves.

Only one challenge remained. How will we ascend to our sixth-story apartment in Valencia. When last we reported to you, the elevator was lying paralyzed at the bottom of its shaft. It was a serious disability, lasting several days. Will it have recovered by the time we arrive at 11:30 pm? Yes! We didn’t have to carry our luggage up the seven stories!

JOY’S PICK OF THE PICS

The Cielo de Salamanca, a 15th-century painted ceiling depicting the signs of the zodiac.
The Hat thinks this statue with its large carved book would make a nice tombstone. Not any time soon, however.
Squid and Black rice appetizer. The black rice is made with squid ink. It was recommended by Eva, a Globerscoper.  It really was flavorful–which means good.
Roy is looking at tombstones,  I’m looking for another adventure!

 

 

13 thoughts on “AN ALL-TOO-QUICK SURVEY OF SALAMANCA”

  1. After the resurrection and the ascension, Jesus is on the loose. You and Joy have been able to see how much He has been on the loose by your being on the loose throughout the world He loves.

  2. Roy, I must quibble with your reasoning that, since storks deliver babies, they must all be female. it is obvious that you’ve been gone from California for a long time. We are now very “progressive” out here, and in the name of tolerance do not tolerate views that exhibit such antiquated, microaggressions as you have committed re: storks. If you wished to make storks all of one gender, surely you could have referred to creatures with such fabled duties as they have allegedly accepted as their lot, referring to them as “s/he” (or some other clumsy literary device). In California, we no longer recognize gender distinctions (or from another perspective, we recognize 60-100 or more such distinctions–depending on who is doing the counting). Moreover, male nurses now inhabit the hospitals, so why can’t males be midwives–they deliver babies, too, don’t you know!

    Now that I have excoriated your apparent failure to stay in tune with the times, I feel much better!

    Regarding the question of gender distinctions, TIME magazine, March 15, 2017, had an interesting cover story of the gender-bending tendencies of the Left these days–which go far beyond the no longer au courant LGBTQQA alphabet soup the Western world is swimming in.

    Your story of Salamanca was an interesting one, BTW.

    “Keep those cards and letters coming, folks!”

  3. Wow, another great set of pictures from Mom. Some incredible places you have visited. What a nice way to describe squid ink soaked rice – flavorful. I think I’ll steal that for future adventures. Also, you owe mom half an apology. Doctors normally deliver babies. There are of course male and female doctors. :). See you two at the end of June.

  4. Roy — just saying — I haven’t forgotten that you ‘chose’ another event over Salamancia. Naturally I forgive you (sort of). See you soon! Naomi

  5. Yes, an apology–both male and female storks not only build their nest together and share egg-sitting time, but they both also both feed the chicks 🐥 So Joy could be right using a “He” pronoun. And they are gregarious birds, taking in all kinds of small boarders– usually little birds. And heard this about parking recently in an NPR radio author interview– 20-30 percent of area of main American cities is parking. ☹️😩😫Love to read your blog, love you both, xox Teri and Chip

    1. Ah, Teri. You and Chuck and Ed–such literalists. How am I to respond? What seems appropriate, I guess, is gratitude to all three of you for enlightening me on the mating and nesting and birthing and delivering practices of storks. Still, I like to think it’s the female stork who delivers. After all, the parallel term for the stork’s work among humans is midwife, isn’t it? And a midwife has to be female, doesn’t she? I mean, just looking at the word.
      As to parking in major American cities. I have no doubt your 20-30% figure is accurate. It’s just that 100% of them are occupied whenever I try to find one.

      1. What fun to get a reply!!😍 I’ve been posting all along but must have missed some step to getting in! Love love love your trip and traveling with you through art and wit! Hugs and hugs 🤗 Joy and Roy!

  6. Brother Marshall and sister Judy are here for Milligan board meeting and while we were breakfasting Marshall asked, “Where in the world is Waldo?” So we checked your blog and now we know. Greetings from Tennessee Lawsons and Ohio Haydens!

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