While Columbus Day has all but been forgotten in the U.S., it still lives on in Spain as Día de la Hispanidad (literally, “Hispanic Day”). So yesterday schools and virtually all places of business were closed in honor of this national festival. It was in true Spanish fashion that after our first real day of teaching, we would have a day off for a holiday.

From what we could tell, no one really celebrates Hispanic Day in Laredo, other than using it as another day to sleep late. Local government workers decorated the town hall and a few other buildings with Spanish flags Tuesday afternoon, but other than that, there was no real sign of a national celebration.

With a day off and all services closed, Amanda and I decided to take about a 4 hour hike from Laredo to another beach roughly 5 kilometers away. It turned out to be a nice day for walking, with no rain and light cloud cover. The trail started off up a very steep paved road, flattened out through pastures, eventually turning into a gravel path for the final descent to Playa San Julián. Along the way there were horses, ponies, cows, goats, sheep, and even some enormous vultures.  Amanda can’t decide if she enjoyed the stunning cliffs along the beach or the miniature ponies more.

Overall, it was a great hike with impressive views of the Cantabrian coast.