I’m already approaching my third week here in Córdoba and I’m living in a cozy 4-bedroom apartment with a host family of four, which includes my mother Carmen, sister Carmen, 17, brother Diego, 15, and their bat-eared dog named Dama. Sadly, Carmen’s husband passed away of cancer in 2000, so she’s been a widowed stay-at-home mother for a while.
Without her, I wouldn’t be able to successfully navigate my way around the city.
She even offers to help me with my homework throughout the week and goes out of her way to make me feel comfortable:
Por favor dígame cuando necesitas algo. Puedo comprar algunas postres o fruta que te guste. Puedes traer tus amigos en la casa si queréis. ¡Eres en tu casa Jennifer!
She’s a wonderful woman.
The walls in my room are festively decorated with vintage beer posters. My modest bed lays directly across from a glass desk and a tall red and tan-checkered bookshelf filled with tour guides and Spanish editions of the Harry Potter series.
The room also has access to a balcony, or la terraza, with a stunning view of southern Córdoba that overlooks several streets named after famous Spanish bullfighters such as Avenida Manolete and Calle Manuel Fuentes de Bocanegra. It’s my favorite feature of the room.
Despite my lovely accommodations, I’m still adjusting to my new home. Every household operates differently, so I’m slowly catching on to a different set of rules. Just a few weeks ago I was plopped on my mother’s couch watching reruns of every Travel Channel show, and now I’m sitting with a different family in a foreign country at their dining room table.
During el almuerzo, or lunchtime, we mainly watch las noticias/telediarios and sports coverage (which of course is almost entirely about soccer). Almuerzo is the largest meal of the day in Spain, which takes place after school during siesta. Españoles don’t mess around- they take their siestas seriously!
Most businesses shut their doors between the hours of 14:30-17:30, including banks and small supermarkets. Siesta time is reserved for families to eat, rest, and catch up on the day’s events. When I walk home from school I notice how quiet the residential area is. With the exception of an occasional car passing on the road, I only hear the sounds of a neighbor’s television set in the distance or a dry leaf softly dragging itself across the sidewalk.
The most common topic en las noticias in Spain is el paro, or the unemployment crisis. Sadly, the current unemployment rate in Spain is over 20%, and one idea to help stimulate their economy is to follow through with a project in Madrid called “Eurovegas,” which is essentially the construction of large Vegas-like casinos and resorts that could potentially create an upwards of 200,000 jobs. Of course there are those who oppose it, but I’ll save that for another day.
I’m grateful for Carmen and the kindness that her family has shown me. I look forward to growing closer to them as we all gather in front of the t.v. and eat, rest, and catch up on the day’s events.
Time to go and eat almuerzo. More to come soon!