GUEST POST: My Spanish Surrogate Family


In contrast with my trip to Nikki Beach, which I wrote about in yesterday’s blog post, I was recently lucky enough to experience the more traditional side of Andalucia. My landlord invited me over to his house to spend the day with his family. An English friend of mine, Chris, was also invited.
Bartolome and Marta live with one of their sons, who is 35. This may seem weird to English people, but in Spain it is very common. Their younger son is also staying, along with his partner and daughter, Paula, but only for the summer. Not one person in the whole family speaks English, but after my initial apprehension about communication problems due to my poor Spanish skills, I realized that it was actually the perfect situation in which to practice.
When we arrived at the house, the differences between Estepona town and the countryside were immediately obvious. To start with, there was no noise. No cars, motorbikes, mopeds or any other form of noisy transport which tends to drive past my window while I am trying to sleep. Secondly, plants were being grown everywhere, making it very easy to forget that we are in fact at the height of summer here in Andalucia.
After being greeted effusively with hugs and kisses, we were given the grand tour of the land. The garden was carefully divided up, with a small portion for Marta and her flowers, mainly beautiful roses, and then the rest for Bartolome’s vegetable patches. I say vegetable patches only for lack of another word. Bartolome actually grows enough fruit and veg to supply the whole of the nearest village. Although it was not quite clear what some things were, we managed to work out that he was growing about three different varieties of melon, apples, peaches, avocados, figs, grapes, tomatoes, peppers, corn, pistachios - the list is endless. Although he is retired, he has clearly worked very hard and the result is quite astounding.

The food was delicious: lamb kebabs with Bartolome’s ‘secret sauce’ and a huge paella containing meat, prawns, mussels and calamares. It tasted better than in any restaurant I have ever been to, and the portions were so large, any normal person would struggle. After dinner and the Formula 1 race, the men went for a nap, while Chris and I went outside to enjoy the sun. Being desperate for a great tan, I sat outside without lotion wanting to gradually fry all afternoon. However it was not long before Marta ran out and smothered me with, not only factor 50, but factor 50+! It is, apparently, a common misconception that Spanish people don’t bother to use suntan lotion.
We sat, chatted, swam and ‘played’ in the pool, after which Marta gave us ice cream. Chris and I are both 21, however going to Marta and Bartolome’s for the day could only be described as being like when you go round to your grandparents’ house for a day of treats and you immediately feel younger - but in a good way. There was Coca Cola on tap and unlimited biscuits, and our parting gift from Bartolome was two fresh eggs from his free range chickens for our supper. By the time we left, we were part of the family,
I had such a fun time and left feeling a little more homesick than before, pining for more family time. Being a student in England, living with friends, you can easily lose sight of how important family is. It is good to see that in Spain the sense of a strong family unit is still visible and all I can hope for is that it won’t be too long until I am invited back.
Blog published on 5 August 2011