How nice to have something exciting to do on a Sunday in Spain. When I travel, I tend to have an image of closed doors in a city that I don’t know very well. Not a very original image, clearly, but I always wind up jealous of people who have some kind of “in” – who know someone, or have some insider knowledge that gets them into places where tourists can’t go.
This is not about Fancy Nightclub Envy. When I was in Brazil we accidentally got into a Fashion Week Party, an occurrence I can only attribute to washing my clothes in the hotel sink for three weeks, and still this was boring. This is more about the fact that I already know that with a Visa card and a little effort, I can get into anything open to the public. No real challenge there. It’s just more fun to think about having put in the effort to get to know a place well enough to find stuff you just can’t pay to do.
Thus it is with Sundays in Spain. Listen, it isn’t 1986 – stuff is open. But people tend to hang out at home with their families. When we were here in 2003, we rarely saw our friends who had family in the area on Sunday. But this past Sunday we were reunited with our old friend Arancha. She’s now married and has two kids and a stepson; all three were there. Here she is with her husband, Kiko and youngest, Tonio:
Kiko whipped up a killer paella and Max was introduced to the joys of violent cartoons by his seven-year old counterpart, Roberto. All afternoon, the two of them managed to watch stuff or play soccer or swim together, asking us intermittently how to say this or that in English or Spanish to move things along. While Max clearly will not learn Spanish, per se, from this trip, he is definitely learning the pain of not being able to communicate and the joy of breaking through two different languages to be able to share a toy or agree on who will be goalie first. This is good stuff and I think that he is enjoying it, though he ends each day a puddle. Abe, of course, has no idea that he isn’t understood and he basically is flirting with all the Catalan moms in the courtyard and yelling with the other 2-year olds.
Having spent the entire afternoon in Spanish, we headed to Melissa and Colby’s for our sleepover. The boys marauded nicely together and the adults got to hang out without worrying that Abe was about to climb through a window or that Max and Colby were going to battle to the death over who had won an Uno game.
When we left, Abe was so worn out from partying that he napped for four and a half hours. Max and I played gin rummy with “the grown-up cards” and he was pretty darn proud of himself for using them, though he cannot hold a hand of cards without a plastic card holder thingy.
Today we decided halfheartedly that we should go do another outing and chose the Barcelona botanical gardens. Later, I asked our friend Jose, the tour guide, what he thought of them, and he said he had never been in his life. A wise move. Apparently an homage to semi-arid scrub, they featured numerous aloe plants and dying brownish bushes. See how excited Max was?
Things only got better when there was monkeying around and kissing. But this is true of many events.