Saturday, January 16, 2010

The madre espanola

Meet Amanda. Amanda and I will be living together in the room you see pictured above for the next 6 months! This means that I have officially moved out of Hotel Becquer and into my homestay. I will try to get pictures of my new familia up soon, but descriptions will have to suffice for now. I'm afraid this may result in a less than riveting and longer than usual post, but it should set the stage for all my subsequent stories in the future.

I'm living in a neighborhood about 30 minutes walk from the center of the city, near Nervion in an apartment building on Avenida Alcade San Ferndandez. Our new madre (mother) is named Loli. She has 4 children all in their late 20's to 30's. One of her sons, Alberto, lives here with us as well and we met her son Dani and his wife when they came over for lunch today. Two days in, and we've met half the family! We're also going to get to meet her newest grand-daughter who will be born in February. 

Loli has been hosting 2 college students every semester for the last 10 years and has every single one of their photos still up in her living room and even Christmas cards from past students (a very good sign!). She informed us on the first day that they had all told her they loved her cooking and had taken home all of her recipes. My roommates back in Ann Arbor will be thankful for some new recipes to throw into the mix next year.

So far we have both been stuffed to the brim at each and every of the three meals a day our madre cooks for us. Our grammar professor explained that there were two things we needed to know about Spanish mothers: one, that cleanliness is truly next to godliness here and no mess would be tolerated and two, that they will never think you've had enough to eat. This is apparently compounded by the cultural norm of saying no thank you when you are initially offered food and having to wait until the other person insists you have some before it is polite to eat more! He says that as a Spanish students who went to study in England, he nearly starved the first week after everyone took him at his word when he declined food initially! At any rate, our professor seemed pretty spot on in his description so far.

We have also been bumbling along trying not to inadvertently break house rules. So far we've been fussed at for soaking the bath mat, keeping our suitcases under our beds so that she could not properly sweep, waking her up by closing the door too loudly in the middle of the night, and coming home late for lunch! Lots to learn.

To try to keep this short, I will end with a short list of my top accomplishments of the past few days:
  1. Researching and buying a phone and calling plan in Spanish
  2. Finding my way home after this trip to the phone store...
  3. Acclimating myself to the Spanish time-line napping from 3-5, eating dinner at 10, and going out with friends at midnight and not returning home until 4 in the morning!
And now Amanda and I will venture out of the house for the first time today (at 5:00 in the evening...) to attempt our latest feat of great bravery and talent: acquiring a city bike pass!


  1. Good to see you are learning the cultural norms, hope that continues smoothly. Remember to be a polite Spanish elephant!

    Had to think of you this morning at church. One of the praise songs was "Lord of Heaven & Earth". Brings back memories of the missions trip to Mexico!

    I'm off to Mpls tonight for a week long course on mergers and acquisitions. Hmm... Should be interesting but long time to be out of pocket.

    Hope your week is going well--also that you and Gayle find a church home this week. More later.

  2. Wow I love that daily schedule! Quite different from ours! I'm glad to see that you have a very likable pseudo-mom too! Take care and I look forward to hearing about all your adventures for the rest of the semester!