“No, mom I don’t want to go to Spain this Summer. I have plans with my friends already.” This was my signature saying every Summer that we had family plans to go to Spain before my teen years. You see, you probably think I am crazy now but I didn’t like to go to Spain much because I thought it was boring. When I was younger I thought I knew everything (like we all do). Especially if you have been to my mom’s village you would understand. To understand a bit more- It’s about population 50 right now, you can walk around the whole village in about 10 minutes, only old people live there, my grandmothers house is over 150 years old, there is a plaza, the houses, a bar and a church….oh yea and cows, goats and wild things. Oh, don’t forget that we still drink from the cow trough. The water is really good though straight from the mountains. Don’t get me wrong, we do have electricity and running water. Yet it’s crazy to think that the time my mother was born they had non of those.
These days, upon arrival to the village people who are of the village will greet you with 2 kisses and will say “¡Anda Jessica, la hija de Maria Jesus!”- (Wow, it’s Jessica, the daughter of Maria Jesus.) Never fails. When I was younger I didn’t like all the kisses and people calling me the daughter of my mother, Why couldn’t they leave out “daughter of Maria Jesus?”
It’s been 28 years of going back and forth to Spain every couple years and over the last 10 years is when I really began to appreciate it. Being here now is such a blessing. When I arrived this time, after 4 years of not being here, getting picked up from the airport by my cousin and brother I was so excited I was jumping up and down like a crazy person, I know they were embarrassed of me but I didn’t care. This time I couldn’t wait to leave my life back home to get to the village and see my family.
Upon arrival in the village for the yearly festivals I see about 30 people gathered at my uncles house as they prepare a barbecue. I get out of the car and here goes the kisses! I love them now! There are my parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, moms cousins, and more. They are barbecuing loads of meat, veggies, and we have all types of drinks you could think of. Dinner time in the village doesn’t start until about 10:30pm and goes until about 12:30pm. Remember, we are Spanish, we are a really loud bunch with laughter, yelling, singing and dancing a ton. Then guess what, at 1AM we start the village dancing in the plaza. Once we arrive there are hundreds of people dancing to a live DJ and musicians on a stage. Anything from salsa, reggaeton, EDM, or house music and the whole village is alive! My whole family LOVES to dance maybe until 4 AM, maybe 7AM, some 10 AM. I think I am a little too old for that now. HAHA.
With only a few hours of sleep my cousins and I decided that we needed to keep the village traditions alive. We dressed up in a very traditional dress for a special parade. These dresses are made delicately by hand with hundreds of beads and sequens. Because of their Catholic beliefs, the purpose is to honor a Saint. With our heavy dresses and outfits, beads of sweat drip off our foreheads and our back as we wait until the end of the parade and the church service to finish and finally change into clothing we can breathe again. I used to hate dressing up for this but I think this was the first year I actually appreciated it. I loved it because it’s keeping the village and the spirit alive. Personally I am not one to honor the Saint yet I am very respectful of everyones beliefs. The pictures don’t even do it justice.
The rest of the day is filled with sangria, lemonade, dancing in the plaza and a 3 hour long lunch together as a family. Siestas (naps) are huge in Spain with the pace of life slower and more enjoyable. Laying out by the pool from around 7pm to 9pm is the best time to lay out after a nap. Then it’s snack time where the whole village gets together to eat and drink. My aunt, cousin and I had great conversations about life as we went on a hike after sunset into the mountains to a small river we used to go to when we were younger. Taking in the moment sitting in silence as we watched the stars where it looks like you can see the galaxies and listening to the running water of the river..moments like these I never want to take for granted.
Saying good-bye is one of my least favorite things to do. I get emotional every time even if I don’t show it, I want to cry. Looking into my abuela’s eyes and saying “I love you” and “hasta pronto” (see you soon) watching the tears in her eyes makes me not want to leave. I know it’s never “good-bye”, it’s “see you soon.”
These moments I will never forget. Every conversation, every lunch together, the village that used to be boring is now greatly something I can’t wait to come back to. Home away from home.