Wednesday, June 5, 2013

El Rio

So now that I'm getting more accustomed to the city and Spanish life, I'm feeling a little more like I belong. In my head I sometimes even pretend I'm a native, or at least fully used to living here. Until I open my mouth, that is. Then it's game over. But I'm hoping (and praying and hoping and praying) the language will become more master-able for me.

However, I already have a favorite spot in the city, no question about that : El Rio.

There used to be a river than flowed through Valencia, basically like every other successful and historic city. However, for some reason unknown to me, the river was diverted around the city many years ago, leaving a long, wide, and now-empty riverbank. Instead of a river now, El Rio is actually a park that spans almost the entire city, full of beautiful trees, countless trails for pedestrians and bikes, several playgrounds, futbol fields, a couple skate parks, fountains, and little places perfect for picnicking, reading, or simply sitting.
I'm so privileged that half of my 50 minute walk each morning (and consequently the returning walk later in the day) is spent in this beautiful park.

I love it. 

I've never seen so many runners in my life- they're everywhere in El Rio, of all ages and sizes and abilities and paces. It's wonderful. And of course, I enjoy running in there too! There's so much to look at and take in that I forget that my legs hurt or my lungs are working overtime. Runner's paradise for sure.
Also, dogs. I've never seen so many dogs and they're all SO well behaved. They're rarely on leashes but yet are always at their owners' sides and following directions. Kind of makes me wonder what we're doing wrong in America when it comes to pet training.
And finally, El Rio is not only a wonderful place to enjoy God's natural creation in all the variances of trees and flowers, but is almost like a secret celebration of life and it's diversity. There are so many people, not in a crowded way, but in a pleasant way. I try to listen to the conversations of the older ladies strolling around me, or the moms running after their kids, or the men walking to work. It's full of life, people coming and going, and also people just simply enjoying their day. To me, it's the heartbeat of Valencia.

I could probably spend the majority of my two months just in El Rio, which is actually looking quite possible.

(One of the many bridges. Seriously how beautiful is this?)

(Hard to see, but this bridge is entirely covered in flowers!)

(This looks like a playground but is actually a gym! It's just outside and free for everyone to use, and actually works my arms, legs, and core really well when I stop during my runs. I love the idea of it, and I love using it!)

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