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The humans had to be able to enjoy the park too

Anna spenderade sex veckor på projektet Parque Natural las Batuecas-Sierra Francia i byn Monsagro i Spanien

My name is Anna Halldén and I’m from Sweden, I spent six weeks in the small village Monsagro, Castilla y Leon, Spain, from the end of October till the beginning of December. The reasons I wanted to do this were many, I wanted to improve my Spanish, experience the work going on in a natural park and learn about a different culture.

I did improve my Spanish, a lot! In the village in Spain hardly anyone speak English, or Swedish for that matter, and that forced me to use my very limited Spanish. The limited-part changed rapidly and by the time I was leaving I got many compliments for my ability to speak the language of the land.

The works going on in a natural park, I learned, are many and constantly changing. I was placed to help out in a working team of three Spanish gentlemen and on the orders of the “casa del parquet” ( the high quarters of the park) we built ponds for the amphibian, frogs, salamanders and other water living animals. We planted mini-forests of berry carrying trees in a long term project to provide food for the birds of the park and made houses for the rabbits to protect them from the hunting animals where places for them to build their own tunnels were scarce. But we didn’t only take care of the animals in the park, the humans had to be able to enjoy the park too. So it was our job to see that the tracks of the forests didn’t get overgrown or the view from a lookout point blocked by tree branches. We also remade two very beautiful drinking fountains in the park for the tourists and wanderers of the park to satisfy their thirst. I really enjoyed the many changes the work offered and I saw much of the nature due to all the changes of locations. The working team had a really good spirit and welcomed me with open arms, I feel that I know more about working life in general and nature related work in particular and this experience will definitely help me choose a career path later on.

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So, what about seeing the culture? Yes, I have to say I saw the Spanish culture in the truest way possible. Monsagro is a quite isolated village located between the mountains of “Sierra de Francia” and sometimes I got the feeling that here the time have stood still for a considerable amount of years but it might be because the people that live in the village at this time of year are mostly above sixty years old. The steep, stonelaiden streets were full of goats in the mornings, going out to the fields for the day, meeting a donkey carrying a pile of firewood to the house are not uncommon and old ladies were sweeping the small streets outside their houses with brushes made of a special kind of straw and the cats were everywhere! I got to try a lot of new foods and I was told about many Spanish traditions and costumes. I was taken to dancing where you dance with a ribbon in your hand making an intricate pattern while you dance and I got used to the strange eating times with dinner ten a clock at night. In the weekends I visited the other villages around, the student-packed city Salamanca and one weekend it was a feast in the village square where everyone ate together, potato and meat stew and heated chestnuts over a small bonfire.

I definitely want to come back to Spain and Monsagro, the people are so happy and welcoming, the nature is beautiful and most of the food is delicious.

A big thank you to everyone who has helped me on my travels!

Whoever you are that are reading this, I would really recommend doing something similar, I have learned so much, about the country, people in general, nature, work and myself.