I'm going to start this post a little backwards, starting with the end of the day first. We arrived in Gargant la Olla around 6pm, checked into our cute little hotel and decided to explore the town. None of us knew to much about the town coming into it, except that it is where Meliton Gonzalez Trejo is from, who helped fund my internship experience. Grateful for his family and it was such a wonderful experience to see this town. It was quaint and very charming.
We started off at the old 16th century brothel, to the town plaza, and to the priests house, and then to the best part of an town--the catholic church. Random fact about the brothel: In the 1500's, when the madam of the house was on her deathbed, she donated the brothel to the church as part of her repentance. The priest didn't feel right about living in it, so instead he sold it and used the money to build his house around the corner.
Town of Plaza
It is full of small streets, big cobblestone, and tall old houses. It is so hard to describe, but I actually brought my camera today so hopefully the pictures help.
The best part though was at the church. We walked up and mass was just finishing. About 20 old women with canes in hand exited the building. I guess it is mostly the women that still attend mass, and from what I could see, there was not a young person in sight. We met one of the ladies named Maria, who is an 86 year old women, no taller than 4 foot tall, who took us on not only the tour of the church but the town. She greeted each of us with a kiss on each cheek. Took us up to the second floor of the church where an 18th century organ sat and all the reliquaries of the church were held. It was quite fasincating. I loved how small it was because it felt so homie. This lady had the keys to the church and you could tell it was her pride and joy. As she turned off the lights to the church and walked us out, she stopped at the top of the staircase and started singing to us in Spanish. My understanding was very small...but I still can't get the words, "Ava Maria!" out of my head.
Then, when we asked to take a picture with her, she sung to the camera, and that is why her mouth is open in every picture below. Ah, I just wanted to take this lady with me for the rest of my trip. And I got half of my wish, because she took us around the city and showed us where the entire town got water until 1950-60's in this town. She also showed us the original bridge, which is older than what they call the new bridge which was built in the 1500's.
Just absolutely wild...yep...that's all I have to say. Then we finished off the night with soup and salad at this resturant in the middle of the city.
And to add in a bit about my genealogical research, so none of you have to worry that I am not actually working....
We spent the morning in the Diocesan Archive in Salamanca finishing up our research projects that we had been working on earlier in the week. The archive closes at 12:45 sharp. It was about 12:00 and we decided to try and search for a missing child between the years 1627-1635. We sat there flipping pages until about 12:40 and we were almost to the end of the book. My partner and I just kept looking at eachother, like it is going to come out of nowhere. It HAS got to be here. COME ON! Just the pleading of tired eyes after searching PAGE BY PAGE BY PAGE...and then BAM!!! We found Domingo Pinto in 1631. It is the most nerdy excitement. But it is so rewarding that you just get the biggest rush. We furiously recorded the information and walked out of the archive for the last time with a smile on our faces. I was sad to leave Salamanca. But here's to Garganta la Olla who helped me learn the small town, sweet, kind and beautiful Spanish life.