By John Alfaro/reporter

Traveling around the world is a lifetime dream for many, and one NW Spanish assistant professor saw that dream come true while on faculty development leave.

Alejandro Garza took students on a journey he called “Viajando con Alejandro,” or “Traveling with Alejandro,” Oct. 9 on NW that retraced his steps through every Spanish-speaking country on earth with the exception of Venezuela. 

Along the way, he photographed his experiences and shared his photos during the session.

“I was taking photos nonstop,” Garza said. “I felt a lot of times I was living in my own movie.” 

Garza’s visits to Mexico, Spain and Colombia impressed him the most. While Day of the Dead festivities were in full swing, Garza traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, to experience the local parades and celebrations, including the indigenous communities’ Guelaguetza festival. 

The two celebrations mix Christian traditions from the Spanish conquest with indigenous tradition. Indigenous women carried food on their heads to Oaxacan town members after a devastating earthquake. Since then, the two celebrations have been celebrated together, he said.

Garza visited Colombia, which borders Peru and Brazil, and whose rivers flow into the Amazon. The village Garza visited was located close to the Amazon.

“From music to food to culture, the countries are different, but the food and fruits that come from the region around the Amazon are very fresh,” Garza said. “Central Market can’t compete.”

On his trip to Spain, he participated in the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage leading to the shrine of the apostle St. James in the town of Santiago de Compostela. Garza explained his pilgrimage was at his aunt’s request to visit churches along the way and pray for her.

The presentation inspired NW student Kacy Crocker to explore the world herself. 

“I already really wanted to travel, but this presentation made it more real,” she said. 

Garza’s photos and stories also inspired instructional associate Melanie Mendez. 

“I would really like to go to Colombia and Spain,” Mendez said. “I had a colleague who was from Colombia. She made it sound like a really cool place.”

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