Carthagineses y Romanos

We walked the four miles it takes to make it down to the harbor and back. So easy of a commute for adult legs, so arduous with three girls in tow. No one who ever wrote an expatriate web site, who ever published an expatriate book, who offers advice for traveling across Europe, who romanticizes the reality of everyday life, gave up a steady job, a home with a yard, and a debt-free life for one year in Spain with an English-only husband and three daughters in tow.

Let me write the blog post for you. The book for you. It will begin with staying up late and sleeping in, like all Spaniards do. We might throw in a siesta strewn with screaming girls who are today fighting over the fort they are wholly incapable of completing without our assistance, who beg to go on a bike ride, to go to the park where the three small boys in matching outfits will chase them and call them “ingleses“.

We will have a Spanish tortilla for dinner, made in our newly-purchased 10€ sarten, and eat at the usual hour of Americans after our four-mile journey to the center of town where we thought we were witnessing a children’s festival and came across, instead, a Lion King-esque display of Roman dressed tribes holding up babes in togas, presentations to the emperor and empress, the formal announcement of each family like a baptism of a new generation that we can’t quite understand or be a part of.

There were no bouncy castles. No face painting. Just women presenting gift baskets of fruit, throwing candy that my nine-year-old snatched up and filled her pockets with, asking me later how to say candy in Spanish so she could offer it to the four-year-old boy on the playground. We are reminded, again, that we don’t have a car, that we can’t pile in and own our weekend, but must give in to what this city has to offer us, whether it be a strange historical reenactment, a walk that six small legs no longer endear to endure, or an evening where we settle in, once again, to the solitude of this life we have chosen, no friends, no family outside the small circle we create for ourselves in the midst of a language none of us wholly understand.

This is my Spanish Sunday. It ends with me listening to a book so descriptive of a white Christmas that I ache for this endless summer to be over, the hot drought of Colorado bleeding through to palm trees and no breeze on a late September Spain, the beach like a taunting ghost, hovering before us but not quite within our reach as we stand before the replica of the first ship to circumnavigate the world, our feet foreign, our faces, hands, mouths foreign, in a place we have chosen to make our home.


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