Why I love Spain

September 18, 2007

Yesterday morning I went to school earlier than usual because I didn’t have to work but I did need to study.  There is a cafe at the entrance of my neighborhood, and as I was walking through  to the corner, I saw the most beautiful thing there.  It was around 9 in the morning, and every table was full of families.  Everybody was all dressed up and ready for work, but the best part about it was the fact that at every table there was a family member from every generation.  Child, parent, grandparent.  And everybody was talking and everybody was happy and everybody was relaxed and eating their breakfast and scrambling to get their kids to eat and keep their clothes from staining.  It was the perfect scene in my mind, complete with a small gust of wind to rustle the newspapers in the father’s laps and a few dogs thrown in to distract the children at the table.  I wish I could see that every morning.  Usually by that time I am wiping snotty noses and teaching little girls how to sit quietly in a circle and play duck duck goose or something.  But I would not have traded that moment for anything.  It was the perfect representation of the families of Spain.  They are so cohesive.  The family is forever. 

For lunch yesterday Manoli fed me “puchera” (spelling?).  My host brother, Lucas (or “Lucath, if you’re Andaluthian), told me that puchera is to Spain what enchilada is to Mexico.  It is the main dish of Sevilla.  He said that paella, what all the tourists get so wound up about, is really the famous dish of Valencia.  But here in Sevilla, it is puchera.  Basically it is white rice, garbanzo beans, and steamed carrots set in some sort of broth…my guess is chicken broth.  But I’ll find out later.  But Manoli said that what defines puchera as puchera is the mint leaves as a garnish.  Incredible.  It is so delicious and my favorite meal thus far (and believe me, everything that Manoli cooks is fabulous). Every meal is served with a main dish, like puchera, a little bread on the side to sop up the excess, and then something fried and something sweet.  Today we had vegetable and chicken soup with bread, some sort of fried vegetable (it looked like squash but manoli said it was somethng else) and a banana.  There is fruit for desert everyday.  I love it!

 Speaking of host families, it seems like a lot of the kids here are having difficulties with their host families.  I think it might just be a lot of misunderstandings and things lost in translation, but there are very few who seem happy to live with their families.  I guess I’m kind of rubbing salt in the wound, but I absolutely love my host family.  Manoli is the sweetest old lady ever and I have gotten so close with my host siblings.  Rafa, one of my brothers, is about to be married on October 12, and so the whole house is chaotic every day with talk about the wedding.  But I love it because every family member shares enthusiasm for it.

I feel like when I return to the United States I will be taking a lot of Spanish traditions with me.  A lot of it just makes sense.  For my last semester, I’m going to schedule my classes as such so that I will have that afternoon siesta.  After siestas here, I feel much more refreshed and ready to start the second half of the day.  And because I take a little nap, I feel like the day is longer because there are two parts to it.  So really, you have more time to do what you need to because you end up staying up later.  I wish I could take the custom of walking everywhere, but once I’m back in Lubbock that will be nearly impossible.  When I have gone other places, I have learned to conserve my clothes and my cleansing habits and all that.  But here I am really learning how to use less water and to be more economical with my clothes and resources, which may sound hippie or whatever, but really I don’t see any disadvantages in trying to be more conservative.  I’m not trying to save the world.  I’m just trying to cut back on my bills. 🙂

Speaking of bills, Spain is expensive!!!!!  Grrrr.

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