So if you’re still unaware, I’m back in Indiana. Teachers have great vacations, and I’m enjoying a life of air-conditioned luxury at my parents’. I will also be attending an old friend’s wedding, visiting my alma mater, and heading out to Nevada to visit my brother at the end of July. All in all, not bad.
I love being back home. I will admit to anyone that I love Spain (especially Castilla y León), but home is home and always will be. Nonetheless, there are many things I miss about Spain while I’m here. In no specific order, here they are.
Who knew that walking would make a list? Of course, I can walk here too. We have a great trail behind our house, and I could walk to my heart’s content. What I’m talking about is walking to actually get somewhere. In Spain, even in Madrid, we walk to get to a lot of places. The grocery store, to buy bread, to see friends … There is just something nice about not having to hop in a car to go pick up some eggs.
2. The outdoor lifestyle
Once May rolls around, it seems that all of Spain hit the streets. Restaurants and cafés start putting out tables and umbrellas, and people seem to spend a good two hours sipping on cañas whilst chatting up friends. I love sitting outdoors when the heat hasn’t reached overly suffocating levels, and even though I’ll never be a fan of Mahou, I don’t mind it ice cold and accompanied by some free tapas.
Wine is so expensive here! It has something to do with taxes, but sheesh. In Zamora, I can get a decent glass of wine for around €1.30. In Madrid, let’s say €3. Here? That’ll cost you around $9. Yep, nine bucks! It’s probably not even that great of wine either. (Apparently I’m a wine snob now too. My sincerest apologies.)
I had to write this in Spanish, because the idea just doesn’t exist here in small-town Indiana, except if we had to a farmer’s market, which is something else entirely. Fruterías sell fruit and vegetables, often along with other small items like olives, maybe eggs, and other things along that line. They generally have better quality produce than that found in the supermarket, along with greater variety. They sell some things, like tomatoes, year round, while others have to be in season (see: cherries). Some of these fruit shops are serve-yourself places, while in others you have to ask for what you want. At a traditional market, you line up by asking who’s the last person in line, and wait until they’re finished so that you can have a turn.
5. The fiestas
I don’t necessarily mean parties. I mean each town’s fiestas, their yearly festival days. Every town, village, and city has them. In Madrid, for instance, it’s San Isidro. It’s just fun to see how each little town celebrates. There is always a traditional food, often a sweet, which is eaten on that day. For San Isidro, they eat rosquillas de San Isidro.
6. Food in general
It’s my inner fat kid talking, but … ummmmm, food! There are so many foods here that I just love. Let’s start off with my #1: homemade salchichón from my in-laws, who really know what they’re doing. No thanks, I don’t want fuet, give me salchichón any day. Also, cured sheep’s milk cheese from Zamora, which you could probably find here in the USA, but it would marked up to sky-high prices. Honorable mentions: Campo Real olives (called aceitunas pardas in Zamora), homemade chorizo, salmorejo, lentejas.
I love Zamora, in part because I love its Romanesque buildings and architecture. There is just nothing like knowing you’re seeing something built in the 13th century. We were married in a church built in the 11th century! That’s way older than our country. My favorite styles are Romanesque (see: Zamora, Segovia) and Gothic (see: Toledo, Burgos, León).
8. Learning Spanish daily
I complain about this sometimes, because me da pereza, but there’s something to be said about learning something new every day. Mario is a constant source of information. I watch the news in Spanish when I can, read the news online, and hear Spanish all around me. (I don’t live in an area with a lot of foreigners.) As they say in Spain: Nunca te acostarás sin saber una cosa más (You’ll never go to bed without having learned something new).
9. Public transportation
Madrid’s public transportation system is top notch. It could be improved, of course, and it’s a bit more expensive nowadays than a few years ago, but for a guiri like me, it’s amazing. There are so many ways to get around: buses, the metro, short-distance trains, medium-distance trains, long-distance trains. All of it is incredibly efficient for the amount of different types. You can go to a website to see when the next bus will reach your stop. The metro comes every two to three minutes in the morning, at rush hour.
10. My Spanish friends and family
From their visit to the USA in 2013
What kind of person would I be if I didn’t say this? My Spanish family has taken me in as one of their own. Mario’s godmother and cousin refers to me as prima (cousin). My father-in-law has taken up English, and he’s getting pretty good at it! M mother-in-law is an amazing cook and the prototypical Spanish madre. Everyone treats me phenomenally. And of course Mario is the best of them all! I won’t brag on him too much, though—just know he’s el mejor.