The Warm Welcome
I arrived to my new temporary home on Friday, late in the evening, after ten. The members of The Family greeted me with huge, warm smiles. Kisses on both cheeks on the occasion of meeting someone new are a standard greeting in Spain, and I accepted it wholeheartedly. Mar and Antonio, the parents, prepared a simple, but delicious meal with several traditional Spanish products: first a cream soup made of mixed vegetables, and then some bread with jamón serrano, carne mechada, cheese, and chicharrones. The dinner was already waiting for me at the table when I entered the apartment.
I introduce myself unobtrusively to the older son Victor (two and a half years old) and then I let him be as I sit at the table to eat my dinner. He observes me attentively from the couch for a few minutes, and then decides that he likes me, or so it seems to me, and invites me to help him put together some puzzles. My biggest fear (What if the children don’t like me?!?) falls into the water at once and I can breathe again! The little girl Alma (five months old) is already sleeping, and I have to wait for the next day to meet her.
They show me to my room, and a few things that are already inside catch my eye right away: a bedside-table mirror with a beautiful silver frame, a standing hanger for clothes in the form of a girl, two pictures above the bed, and a book shelf. During the next few days, I take some times to unpack and arrange my stuff around the room to fit my taste.
The next day goes by smoothly. Mar and Antonio are both working in the public administration, and in their free time they are also adventurous travelers, so we have many topics and destinations to discuss. Little Victor yells “Mira Nina, mira Nina!” (Look Nina, look Nina!) every few minutes, tugging on my hand, trying to show me all of his toys at once. I put my palms in front of my face saying “Where is Victor?” He mimics my moves, and then we both remove our palms while yelling “There is Victor, there is Victor!” He loves the game and chuckles adorably every time we do it. Victor enjoys learning how to do new things. A few days before my arrival, he learned how to put on his pants, socks and slippers by himself, and now he refuses to accept anyone’s help. He is very persistent in doing his things correctly on his own. Today at the playground, he saw a puddle, started collecting leaves and throwing them into the water. Some leaves would fall outside the puddle, but he would pick them up again and place them into the water. It is a good habit that he is developing – not to give up when you make a mistake, and keep trying until you succeed!
Little Alma is the calmest baby ever. She barely ever cries and always observes me with her big round eyes when I am talking to her. She cannot talk back, but she gives me the cutest smile and lets out a few inarticulate giggles, and I pretend that we are actually talking. I feel more than welcome in The Family, and I am slowly getting used to the place that will be my home for the next six months.
Exploring the Neighborhood
The change of climate and a few rainy days, unusual for Jerez, have their way with me in the beginning, and I get a little sick. This unfortunate turn of events prevents me from exploring the city. Luckily, after three days, the sun is shining again and I finally go for a walk around the neighborhood.
Everywhere I look, I see tall palm trees mixing with lovely orange trees, creating a translucent atmosphere of a Mediterranean paradise. It is a peaceful residential area in the northern part of the city, with everything you could possibly need, perfect for families. The building has its own little garden, and there is also a playground for children nearby. The city center is just ten minutes away by bus, which stops right in front of our building. There is a fruit shop just outside our door, and a nice little coffee shop right next to it – perfect for me to hide inside with a book and order café con leche from time to time.
As the first week passes by successfully, I look forward to the upcoming weekend, when I will have more time to start exploring the city center. Have you ever been to Jerez? If you have, please let me know what attractions you liked the most, especially if you have some local, insider tips!