Head office of the school of Veterinary Studies

Many Spanish words starting with al-, such as alfombra (carpet), albahaca (basil), and alcázar (fortress) made their way into castellano from Classical Arabic. Albéytar (sometimes spelled “albéitar”), an ancient Spanish term for veterinarians, is no exception. Last week I spent my time in the company of several friendly albéytares-in-training who took me under their wing and showed me their adopted city. (Since we were in southern Spain, an area with significant Arab history, it made sense to refer to my group of guides as albéytares instead of veterinarians.) A visit would not be complete, I was told, without a stroll around the Universidad de Córdoba.

The veterinary studies major is spread across two campuses. Above, in the first picture, you can see the vet school’s head office. This used to be the main building for the vet program–including the pracitcal examination of animals!–but nowadays only special events such as one-day courses are given here.

The University of Córdoba’s main campus is reached by taking a 5-minute train from the city center. Before we left town, my hosts and I had breakfast at the rectory. The cafeteria on the main campus also serves the same thing–in this case, a hearty baguette half with grated tomato, olive oil, and ham.

These guides go together like tomatoes and olive oil

(and yes, the tomato comes in a sugar dispenser)

A student’s breakfast at a student’s price–only 60 cents!

The train, which was packed with backpack-toting kids, dropped us of near a large field. From here Cindy and Antonio steered me to the vet building. It was very new, impressively shiny, and pleasantly sunny. Now I’ll do the walking and let the photos do the talking:

Modern, streamlined interior of the the veterinary building

On the second floor, rows and rows of books roll before us

“Pssst! Our study group’s up here!”

Important milestones like graduation take place here

Orange trees fill spaces between buildings

The main–and massive–courtyard

Practical area where the students examine horses and other animals

Adiós, campus!

How lucky was I to have my own albéytares show me where they study? As we speak, they’re already back in school, learning more about the animal kingdom.

Up next: a trip to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. Bonus points if you remember what “alcázar” means! Spanish speakers, what other al- words can you think of?