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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday Morning Discoveries

You say immigrant explosion and I say ethnic diversity.

A wedding at San Valero

I went for a bike ride this morning, not so much for exercise but to familiarize myself better with my new neighborhood of Ruzafa. This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Valencia and is of Arab origin. The name evidently comes from the Arabic word for garden, although I can’t find it in my Arabic dictionary, and I tried a half dozen or more spellings. It turns out the church behind my apartment, San Valero, was built on the site of another church that burned in 1415. The bell tower was completed in 1740 and it burned in 1939 and was rebuilt.

I guess the Arab origin partly explains the souk-like, labyrinthine nature of the street here. I was beginning to miss the great access I had to the bike trail system from my old apartment. I could go a block from my front door and link up to the bike trail and follow it all the way out of the city for about 20 kilometers along the beaches south of Valencia. I discovered this morning that my new place is also about a block and a half from another bike trail that also links up to the bike path out of town. If you ride a bike, Valencia is about as good as it gets.

Spain, once a fairly homogenous place, is quickly becoming a country of immigrants. My neighborhood of Ruzafa is a testament to this fact as a short walk in any direction will prove to you. There is a street here called Calle de Cuba that should be renamed Calle de China. It is the home to dozens of businesses owned by Chinese immigrants. There are a lot of Halal (Kosher, for lack of a better translation) butcher shops catering to Muslim. Spain’s biggest immigrant population is from Ecuador and there are several restaurants in the neighborhood that feature food from this South American country.

Indian and Pakistani natives also make up a sizeable portion of the neighborhood’s population and they also have their own businesses. If nothing else, all of these immigrants make me feel like my Spanish is not too bad.

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