After about 24 hours (including time change, layover and 13 hours of flying time), I finally made it to España. I was a little worried when I couldn’t find Dad, Santi, but after locating a pay-phone and making a quick call to his cell, we were finally united (much to my relief). After an delicious Mediterranean lunch of salmon, rice and a side dish of steamed carrots, bell peppers and onions (something that Santi just “whipped up real quick”) I took a much needed siesta. I think that this Spanish lifestyle, siestas and Mediterranean cuisine, will work out just fine for me (-: I woke up to a cheerful and excited 6-year old, Laia, chattering to her father in Catalan outside my bedroom window which is right next to the front door. The minute the door opened it was as if we had known each other forever – the next 10 minutes were full of hugs, kisses and lots of tickling. From that moment on, that little girl was glued to my hip like she was telling everyone in her town that, “this is MY au pair.” Later on, we picked up 8-year old Nuria from music lessons (might I add that their school is literally a 1 minute walk from the house). She was a bit more reserved at first but within 10 minutes was going on and on (in perfect Englsh) what she did at school and who all her friends were. As we were walking to the park, or what they call “La Plaza,” I watched in amazement as Nuria did cart-wheels down the cobble streets – I mentioned to Santi that we should definitely get her into a gymnastics class.
Mom, Roser, is currently in Germany on a business trip, so the four of us spent a good hour at the La Plaza where at least 50 other kids of all ages were playing. Santi explained, “If you want, you can bring the girls here everyday after school and do your homework. You don’t even have to watch them because there are at least 4 other pairs of eyes on them at all times. Everyone knows each other here and everyone watches out for each other’s children.” I was introduced to many parents who all had no interest in speaking their broken English to me. I listened closely to their Spanish (they had to switch over from Catalan which is the main language that everyone speaks), but with a tired brain from lack of sleep and jet lag I was making mistakes left and right. Including saying I was 13 instead of 23, which for all of you with a little Spanish background know that I even said “13” wrong by saying “diez y tres” when I KNOW its “trece.” How embarrassing!
The town of Sant Llorenç d’Hortons is everything I imagined it to be – a small, quiet country village tucked away in the Catalonian countryside, surrounded by vineyards and no more than 30 minutes outside of the metropolis that is Barcelona. There are only 2,000 people in this town so, like I said, everyone knows everyone. People here live simple lives, focused on family and community. The house that I live in is smack-dab in the center of town and can only be described as a picture out a magazine – complete with terracotta floors, iron windows, and wooden doors. The house smells like the end of a cork when you open that perfect bottle of red wine.
And so, here I am, enjoying the crisp air of a Spanish morning, after a small breakfast of tea, bread and olive oil, yogurt, and an apple. I feel like I am living in a dream. Maybe it’s time to un-pack now?