Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mama Maria's Bday

So, today we all slept in until like 1 oclock and after we went to Mamá Lola's house for lunch. (It's the big meal of the day here and in a village like this, everything closes and everyone goes home to eat with the family.) Today is my mother-in-law's bday. We went yesterday and bought two cakes to celebrate. We surprised her with the cakes and candles after lunch. It was nice for her, I hope. Of course, with two cakes, we'll be eating cake for the rest of the week, but hey, it's summer vacay, right??

So, I thought I would tell everyone a bit about the village. It is in the middle of a semi-mountainous region and everyone here is a farmer. The village itself is surrounded by lemon and orange trees and the olive groves are pretty plentiful around here. They also grow almonds, apricots, plums, dates, etc. You name it, Papá Juan probably grows it. He also has this old barn attached to the garage where he makes wine. Yep, he takes it pretty seriously, too. They are constantly arguing (well, probably just discussing, but since they all yell at each other all the time...) about whether it is full moon or new moon or waxing or waning. WHAT on earth does the moon's status have to do with making wine???? Well, it seems that you can bottle the wine only at certain times of the month. But on Fridays during a waxing moon it's really a waning moon or some silly tradition like that and they can bottle the wine. It is so confusing and they are consistently talking about the wine and when they can bottle it. Papá Juan pulls out a bottle every day for lunch. It's pure alcohol! We are talking homemade moonshine! Ha, I guess I get the connection to that word now. :)

Oh, and what's even funnier, I am not allowed anywhere near the barn. Nope, it seems if a woman of childbearing age happens to have her monthly visit and goes near the wine, the whole batch will go bad. I don't know if this is really true or not, but they are pretty serious about this as well. To be honest, I don't really want to go in the barn. It's kind of scary looking. It looks like it is 300 years old. It's attached to the back side of the village's palace. Yep, there is a palace here. It's from the 17th century, last added to in the 19th century. It is privately owned, and as you can see from some of the pictures below, it is in pretty bad shape. One side of the palace was sold off and is now Mamá Lola's house. Next to the main entrance of the palace, the village has their church. They just re-did the plaza (that's the town square) and are hoping to earn money to invest in restoring the palace. Mamá Lola has told me so many stories about the old days. I guess her father and grandfather were friends with the last Marqués who lived there. She says he was a nice guy.

Guillermo and I had our wedding photos from Spain taken on the steps of the palace. Plus all of our group family shots are taken at the entrance of the palace with the arch. In the aerial picture you can see the plaza in front of the palace and that there is a type of entrance/courtyard. At the top of the photo there is a street that passes and there is a red car parked. Mamá Lola and Papá Juan own the two houses at the end of this street facing each other. One house is their home where they sleep (the one attached to the palace), and the one on the other side of the street is where she had her store. Now that she is retired, they rennovated the store back into a house and they cook, eat and spend their days in that house. Looking at the aerial picture, the street that passes by the palace where there are several cars parked, there is a yellow car. The house directly across the street from the yellow car is the house that Mamá Lola grew up in. Her brothers and sisters own that house now. They have divided it up into several smaller homes.

Okay, well we are off to visit Papá Guillermo at his fancy hotel. We have our big game tonight! Spain-Portugal. I'll write about that tomorrow.
Stay tuned...

Monday, June 28, 2010

World Cup Action

Almanzora is a small village in southern Spain (part of the Almeria province). Since the first time I came here for Easter weekend in 1997 it has changed quite a bit. When I first came, all of Guillermo's friends still lived at home and we were social butterflies going out every night and sleeping in all day long from exhaustion. Mama Lola owned a store and there were a few British transplants that would go in to buy stuff. She knew how to say "hello"and "thank you". As the years have passed, the group of people we once spent all of our time with has dispersed. Many moving on from university studies to marriage, jobs, families, etc. Only one, Guillermo's cousin, Andres, still lives in the village. He and his wife have built a very nice house up the street from Papa Guillermo's house. We watch a lot of soccer games there. They have two young children of their own. It's funny to see Carlos and Maria with the little ones. I remember when they were the little ones.

The village is now full of British people. They have come and bought all the old farmhouses on the outskirts and rennovated them. In the summers they have family and friends visiting and it seems that the English speakers outnumber the Spanish speakers. I was joking with the bar owner across the street yesterday that his English should be really great by now, he laughed and told me that they know enough Spanish to order and pay the bill, that's all he cares about. :)

Speaking of the Brits, yesterday the bar was a ghost town. Could it be due to the lack of celebratory spirit after England's loss to Germany?? (congrats to the Kissner girls!) I thought they would all be in the bar watching the game and drinking, as they always are, but nope. Not a single Brit to be found! I guess they had more hopes in the world cup than us Americans... I can't imagine our loss was mourned as widely as theirs.

But, hey, WHO CARES?! Spain plays tomorrow. Carlos and Guillermo have their shirts all clean and ready to wear! The "furia roja" is ready to win! ESPANA!!!!!! ESPANA!!!!!  

Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Well, the flight was uneventful. We spent a few days in Madrid and then took a train down to Almeria, where we picked up my in-laws'car and drove to the village. (You can see pics on google earth, Almanzora, Spain)
My father in law had eye surgery and cannot really move around too much and Guillermo has to do the driving. Great! With the travel we have to do this summer going up north and back down south, we'll probably log 24 hours in the car.

The kids really enjoyed the train ride. It was a new experience for them. But the question ""Are we in Almanzora yet?" still comes just as often in Spain as it does in Ohio!

Papa Guillermo checked himself into a "Residencia" (which is a nursing home) while my in-laws have been in Madrid for the eye surgery and all. We told the kids that he is on vacation at a fancy hotel. According to everyone it is like a fancy hotel. He likes it so much there he doesn't want to come home. He's happy there and has people that will listen to his stories about Germany and the war and the old days. As long as he comes to visit us while we are here, I think we are all happy with the arrangement. When one is 94 years old, it's not so easy to be home alone in such a big house.

This morning Maria and I were laying in bed listening to my mother in law and her mother talking. Maria says, "Mommy, it sounds like they are fighting". I said, "they are just talking, honey". She said, "well, they don't have to yell at each other!" I just chuckled. They always yell when they talk. I remember my parents making the same comment a few years ago when they visited. I just tune out and if someone wants my opinion I play dumb. :)

We are only going to stay down here for a week then it's back to Madrid and then up to La Coruña for Encarna Maria's wedding. Speaking of Encarna Maria, her little baby, Gloria is 11 months old now. She is so adorable. She doesn't like me too much, she cries every time she sees me. (Can you believe that Hunter Ridge friends? A baby that cries every time it sees me! I am dying here!!!) She does love Carlos and Maria, though. And her tito Guillermo, of course (who doesn't love Guillermo!)

Will try to post more, but we are sort of "incomunicado" with my phone NOT WORKING over here! The jerk who works at the Verizon store in Twinsburg is going to get a talking to when I get home!

Love to everyone. Carlos and Maria will be desperate for company of their own age when we get back. I fear they won't have many kids around this summer to keep them entertained.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Flight Change

So, Guillermo noticed on the flight itinerary that they changed our flight from Toronto from Monday to Tuesday night. That would leave us for 24 hours in Toronto just hanging out. RIGHT! Anyone ever traveled with two kids???? Luckily the lady from Air Canada reservations understood and changed everything (even overriding seat arrangements) to get us all settled. So, to my relief (yeah, still haven't packed anything!) we get an extra day before we leave. I sold it to Guillermo as his chance to watch Spain play. Originally he would have missed the game because we would be in transit. I don't think he bought it, but it is what it is.
Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Have NOT Packed a Thing!

Well, on suggestion from my college friends last night, I decided to start a blog for our trip to Spain this summer. Hopefully I will have access to the Internet so that I can post often. I will also try to add pics.
(Amy, you promised to read, so I'll have a quiz ready when I get back.)

So, we leave on Monday, June 21st. Have not started to pack a thing! I have been collecting presents and other assorted things requested by family there and throwing everything in bags in the spare (junk collecting) bedroom. I can barely open the door, let alone fathom how I am going to go through everything and PACK! (Are you getting the sense that I am frustrated and procrastinating on the packing here????)

We have my sister-in-law's wedding on July 17th, and her daughter's baptism the following weekend. Does that mean I have to pack TWO different outfits for each one of us??? I suppose it does. Although, I don't know about Guillermo and Carlos, they can probably get away with the same stuff. But Maria and I HAVE to be fashionable Americans, right?? Yeah, anyone who has met Maria knows that getting her to wear a dress is about as easy as getting me to stop eating chocolate. HA, fat chance.

Speaking of fat, I have gained some weight this year. Not looking forward to those comments. Oh well, I will just have to deal with it. At least I am free from cooking, cleaning, laundry, and all that this summer.

OH YEAH, I don't really do much of that here, Guillermo does all that. So, what do I do? School, school, and more school. I am looking forward to not working for seven weeks. Except for the two online sessions I have scheduled for professional development, I should be able to disconnect. That will be nice.

So, keep checking in. I will try to write at least once a week, probably more, and post lots of photos.