¡Ya hemos llegado! We’ve arrived. We’re one week into our #España2015 trip and it’s been wonderful so far. This is E.’s first (out-of-utero) visit to her father’s home country. So exciting!
There is so much to share with you all, that I haven’t known where to begin. That’s probably why it’s taken me a whole week to organize my thoughts into a coherent blog post. I’m looking forward to chronicling our family’s adventures with you all, and I thought I’d start with…
Lo que he echado de menos de España (what I’ve missed from Spain):
- Life just goes a lot slower. Despite having a reservation, it took almost an hour to get our rental car at the aiport (no line!). 45 minutes to be helped with setting up our cell phones at the Vodafone store. Two-hour lunch followed by a one-hour sobre mesa (chatting over dessert and coffee). Siestas after lunch and two-hour church services. Spaniards even WALK slower here (I was once corrected by my cuñada for walking too fast.) A native of the land of hurry! and now! and time is money, I feel both challenged to slow down my plans for the day and relieved that my internal clock can rest and enjoy the moment, not having to plan the next hour ahead.
- Spaniards love natural, fresh air. They dislike, no hate, no loathe, air conditioning. It may be 100 degrees outside, but you don’t turn on that machine. Fortunately, we arrived just as the horrendous summer 2015 heat wave left. It’s been high 50s at night and low 80s during the day. Nothing but blue skies, sunshine, and the gentlest breeze imaginable. We’re staying in a sparsely-populated neighhorboohd on the outskirts of Madrid, where it’s nothing but meseta, olive trees, and brown shrubbery. With windows on all sides of our house, there’s a constant stream of fresh air coming at you from every angle.
- E. finally has an audience who understands her “hola” and “agua” and “ya está.” If you’ve been following this blog, then you know that my husband (a native Spaniard) and I speak exclusively in Spanish to our 19-month old daughter, E. The expected consequence is that she often greets people in Spanish at our neighborhood park back home; of course, they don’t understand her. But, here, they do! Not only that, they carry on the conversation. The period between month 18 to month 22 is marked by huge leaps in a child’s language development, so for us to be in Spain this month is a huge gift for E.’s bilingual growth. In fact, I’ve had the exciting privilege to enroll her for two weeks in a Spanish Waldorf pre-school (and, I get to join her each day!). While I plan to write more in depth about our experience there, I will say now that she is interacting with native Spanish-speaking adults and children, and she’s already added a few more words to her lexicon.
(Photo courtesy of Joi Ito, Flickr CC)
- The food. ¡Madre mía, la comida! If you need only one reason to visit Spain, then the food. It is – and this is objectively speaking – the best cuisine in the world. (You’ve heard it here.) On a serious note, though, I told D. that I am not leaving Spain until I’m at least ten pounds heavier. Jamón Serrano, queso manchego, croquetas, aceitunas, lomo, pulpo a la gallega, oreja a la plancha, gazpacho, patatas bravas, fabada, calamares en su tinta, cocido, tinto de verano. (Just go type all of that into Google and tell me you’re not hungry.)
- Your friends are your friends, por vida (for life). While I’ve found that in the States friends come and go, depending on your life circumstances (graduating college, changing jobs, moving across state lines, etc.), in Spain your friends are your friends are your friends! For example, M. was one of my English students turned personal tour guide of all the cool spots in Madrid turned friend when I lived in Spain eleven years ago. Although we only see each other once every year or two (and write about the same amount), we still get together each time I visit. The American in me starts each e-mail the same hesitant and apprehensive way, as if not to offend, “No sé si te acordarás de mi….” To which my amigos fieles españoles respond, But, “¿De qué estás hablando? ¿Qué clase de pregunta es ésa??!!” (What are you even talking about? What kind of question is that?) To a Spaniard, it would never occur to them to just lose touch or stop being friends. I love that quality about them.
Amigos, stay tuned for more from la península ibérica…¡Hasta pronto!
P.S. As always, you can follow me on twitter (@espanolita) and Instagram (@espanolitablog).