6/25–Today was a day of travel and readjusting to a new place. After a week in Madrid, we packed up and drove to the northern coast, with a short detour to see the university town of Salamanca. The week in Madrid, filled with social gatherings, flew by, especially when I compare it to our stay before, which lasted a whole year. I wish I had more time. But we love the north, with its beautiful beaches, green mountains and wonderful cuisine, so here we are.
We are fortunate to once again stay in a house instead of a hotel. Our Madrid house exchange family owns a second apartment here in Santander so we have a nice place to stay. It is only about a 15-minute walk to the beach and shops. Our exchange family has relatives here too so we received a nice invitation to their house for dinner tomorrow night. These relatives actually stayed in our house for a few weeks in California the year we were in Madrid. In addition, we saw this family four years ago when we were here before and together in their apartment we watched Spain win the World Cup. That was a memorable night, with dancing and fireworks in the streets until 2 am. At that time, it seemed that everyone in Santander was flying a Spanish flag in their window. The people here said they’d never seen such patriotism.
Traveling with teenagers, ages 17 and 14, definitely has its challenges and we felt those quite intensely today. Teenagers have opinions, and lots of them. Today, for example, they both complained loudly about having to stop in Salamanca. The stop would add about two hours total to our travel time. Peter and I were interested in seeing Salamanca, which has the oldest university in Spain (established in the 13th century) and the biggest plaza. The boys, though, have little interest in historical sites, and preferred to just get to their destination. They protested and said they would just stay in the car during our stop, which of course was silly. Then, when we sat down to eat our lunch, they insisted they would just sit there while we explored the city. Of course they came with us in the end. As it turned out, we had a lovely lunch and we were able to see the main square, cathedral and university in a short time. We even found the famous astronaut everyone says you must see. It is a tiny astronaut carved into the cathedral facade by an enterprising stoneworker who helped renovate the building 20 years ago.
Our teenagers’ desire for wifi connections also drives a big part of our agenda. No sooner had we rolled our suitcases into our new house than the boys started searching for wifi. The house had no server so they tried to get on other servers in the area. When that didn’t work they begged us to buy the $10 a day service they found. We broke down (we wanted it too) and they spent the rest of the evening chatting with friends and watching videos. Exploring Santander would have to wait, but it was late anyway. Fortunately I had packed some Top Ramen in our suitcases so we had an instant dinner and didn’t have to go out.
We heard a little about Miguel’s party last night. He attended the school’s end-of-the-year party and saw many old friends. The funny part was that he didn’t recognize many of the kids. They have changed a lot in four years; most, though, remember him. He was the famous Californiano, the only one they’ve ever met. A lot of them last night asked him to say some things in English just so they could hear a real American accent. Evidently he was swarmed by girls, just like he was four years ago. His friend Gonzalo referred to the girls as “the mafia.” I’m sure Miguel didn’t mind the mafia too much–on the other hand it might have brought back bad memories. Four years ago a girl one grade older than Miguel became obsessed with him. She had an American stepmom and spoke some English so she could communicate with him easily. She pursued him every day on the playground, asking him to be her boyfriend. He kept saying no but got worn down. He didn’t really want a girlfriend but he did like having a friend who spoke English and she was cute. Finally he agreed to be her boyfriend. She monopolized all his time and we were worried he wasn’t making any other friends. Pretty soon we got reports from Miguel’s little brother Thomas that Miguel and his girlfriend were kissing under the stairs during lunch hour. I got more and more worried by the day about this blossoming romance of my almost 13-year-old. I’ll save the rest of the story for another day though. Now it’s late and my goal is to make it to bed before 2 am. One of these days we’ll get on the right time.