We got back from Spain a few days ago. Overall it was a great trip with lots of good food and good times with the in-laws. I got some shopping done and took advantage of rebajas season when all of Spain is on sale from January 6 to sometime in February I think. Our schedule changed a bit though because as anyone familiar with Spanish culture would know, Spanish people eat LATE. Lunch at 3pm, dinner at 10pm was average for us. I used to put Jasmine to sleep at around 7 or 7:30 but she started sleeping around 9 or 10 when we were there.
We spent most of the time in Preixana, a little village in Lerida in the northeast of Spain. Jose’s grandfather is 94 years old and is still working as a farmer there. Special holidays are usually spent in Preixana so last Christmas and New Year’s were no different. It was really nice to be part of a family that celebrates Christmas. Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) and Christmas Day were very meaningful. On New Year’s we ate 12 grapes as per Spanish tradition (no one seems to know the reason though). Everything was fantastic except…
There was no internet connection. I know, I know, first world problems.
One day when I felt too cut off from the world already, I went to a family friend’s house that had internet. They said no problem, I could stay in their house and connect for as long as I wanted. When I asked for the password they were amused and said, “We don’t have a password. No one steals internet here.” Hmmm…
Well from that time on I spent many nights standing outside their door stealing their internet (sorry, Antonio). Some nights the weather was good, some nights it was freezing that I could barely take my phone out of my pocket.
We spent some time going around the Jose’s family’s farm where they plant olives, almonds, wheat, corn etc. It’s winter now so everything is gray and pretty much dead.
One day we went to Barcelona to meet with Jose’s boss and his family. They were on a little European holiday. It was great to see them there. We asked them to meet us at a famous Catalonian restaurant called El Caracoles. We were late as usual so they had to wait for us. When we arrived we noticed that they only had sangria and nothing else on the table. Turns out, the only Spanish word they knew was sangria. Hahaha!
We were also able to meet some Spanish friends from Taiwan and it was nice seeing Andres’ reaction at the airport. He had absolutely no idea that Carlos had contacted me saying he was picking Andres up and would we like to tag along to surprise him. We spent the afternoon eating tapas and catching up. It was a nice little reunion.
We went back to Madrid 2 days before our flight back to Saudi. Jose said he could watch the baby while I went shopping alone. FREEDOM! However, I walked out of the house and down the street and couldn’t find a taxi. I saw some people and asked them where I could find a taxi. Until then people (Jose’s family and friends) had told me my Spanish was good, improving, etc. But when I asked these strangers for help they looked confused and I could actually hear myself pronouncing all the words wrong. They gave me the number of a taxi company and thankfully the operator understood what I said. I basically said the equivalent of, “Me at Lopez Ibor St. Want to Goya St. Me Spanish no good.” Ugh!
One thing I’m really thankful for is that the Jeddah-Madrid flight only takes 5-6 hours. Jasmine cried the whole time because she couldn’t sleep. Some people even gave us nasty looks. I feel nostalgic for the times when I could watch a movie or two on a long flight or even eat my meals slowly and peacefully. Those days are definitely long gone.