“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Estrellas del Mar and Ballet Flamenco!


I have so much to write about! Friday was a day filled with exciting adventures!

We got an early start to the day yesterday leaving Cadiz at 8:00 am for the coast. There, we met up with Carmen and Vanessa, two women who are working on their Ph.Ds in marine plant life. Their research is focused on sea grass that grows along the coast in Cadiz. They are fortunate that 3 out of the 4 types of sea grass found in Europe can be found in Cadiz. The women collect samples 4 times a year - one time each season - from the same location. We were fortunate to be able to accompany them yesterday to help them with their fall collection.
Gorgeous sunrise

Dressed in neoprene jumpsuits and rubber boots, we made the trek through the cold, muddy water out to each of the 3 collection zones. The zones are staggered - each a little further from the coast. To collect the sample, you have to place a metal, rectangular box (similar to a cookie cutter) into the ocean floor. Then, you remove everything from inside the box. This includes the sea grass (with roots), shells, clay, and sand. All of the material that is gathered is then placed into a mesh bag. Finally, you have the shake the bag around in the water a bit to clean the sample and remove any unwanted debris. There are 2 samples collected from each zone.

Natalie, Carmen, Teri in jumpsuits!

On our way into the cold water!

Preparing the sample

Collecting sea grass!

Carmen and Vanessa collecting sea grass from Zone 3 - the furthest from the shore!

Although it was freezing out, and the water was cold, there were a few surprises that made this adventure worthwhile. Take a look at what we found in the ocean!

An anenome! We were lucky enough to see a few before they slid back into their homes under the sand

A medusa (jellyfish)! Its uncommon to see one this time of year

A real life starfish! I've never seen one in the wild until now!

We were relieved to take our suits off and join Vanessa and Carmen for a breakfast before heading off to the lab. There are 3 things that I love about Cadiz. Cafe con leche - which is nothing more than espresso and milk. Fresh squeezed orange juice. Toasted bread with olive oil and crushed tomatoes. Do I really have to go home in 2 months?

After a short break, we headed off to the lab! Dressed in lab coats, we learned how to work with our samples. The lab assistant Bea gave us a brief lesson on the structure of the sea grass. We had to go through our samples and make notes of the types of stems, branches, roots, and leaves. It was very interesting!

But our day didn't end there! Later at night we met up with Carmen at Teatro Falla. There is a festival teatro (theater festival) here in Cadiz during the month of October. Some of the productions are held in the theater and others are held in the streets- free for anyone who wants to watch!

Last nights show was a ballet- flamenco "Eva la Yerbabuena." I have never in my life seen anything like it. The dancing was a combination of ballet, flamenco, and interpretive dance. The band was incredible. The male flamenco singers were outstanding. There was so much raw talent on that stage it was unbelievable. Here is a link to the show since I didn't bring my camera with me to the theater!

You know what else I also love about Spain? During the show, people were cheering, yelling "ole," clapping, singing, stomping their feet. There was so much excitement and energy in the room. You could tell that the crowd really appreciated the show and loved every minute of it! I can't wait to see some of the other productions in the street this weekend!

Well, that's all for now!


  1. Alicia, I can't believe you actually went into the water and held the starfish and jelly fish. I just can't believe all the things you are doing. I love the pictures.


  2. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! All of your experiences!!!!!!!You will remember this adventure for the rest of your life!!! You are one very lucky girl!!! Love, MOM