Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Deja Vu in Almería

This weekend I decided to take a quick weekend trip back to Almería, the city where I worked last year. A few weeks ago I was invited by a family that I remain close with (former private lesson family) to Daniel's 5th birthday party! I've been meaning to visit Almería since I arrived back in Spain, so this birthday seemed like the perfect time to go!

At midnight on Friday I hopped on the night bus to Almería, a 6.5 hour journey. I figured sleeping at night would be the best way to make the time fly by, and I think I was right. I arrived bright and early on Saturday morning. I made my way to their house, and definitely had a sense of deja vu; walking on the same road to the bus station that I walked dozens of times last year. When I arrived, they had breakfast waiting for me.
Delicious seafood lunch!
  After breakfast, they forced me to sleep a few more hours, which I was thankful for because 6 hours of sleep is definitely not enough for me. Later that morning we went to the garage (which belongs to Daniel's grandparents) to set up for the birthday party! Many Spaniards have garages, but it's probably not what you think. Garages are usually not connected to your house, they have nice tile floors or something to that extent, a bathroom and maybe multiple levels! Yes, they are still used for cars and storage, but often event spaces too since most families own small apartments that don't yield enough space for a large gathering. Anyway, we set up some balloons and Spiderman decorations and then rewarded ourselves with early afternoon tapas. I left directly from tapas to see a different private lesson family from last year. I had lunch at their house. They spoiled me with a giant seafood stu, breaded anchovies, and an olive and tomato salad. For dessert we had kaki (persimmon) and granada (pomegranate). That was my first persimmon experience and maybe my 3rd or 4th time trying pomegranate, and I loved them both! I love trying new foods, especially fruits because they are so different in every part of the world! After lunch we sat around and had a coffee but then it was time for me to head back for the main event, the birthday party!

The birthday boy and I :)
Daniel's birthday party was a blast. The guests included his parents, sister, grandparents, great aunt and uncle, aunt, uncle, 2 cousins, 4 friends with their parents and of course, yours truly ;) The party was like any traditional birthday party in the US: coloring, musical chairs, food (sandwiches, chips, peanuts, olives, cake and drinks), music, games and a craft. The craft, I must say, was the coolest part for me to see. You know sand art in the US? When we put layers of colored sand into a glass bottle? Well they figured out a much easier and cheaper way to do it in Spain! All you need is empty jam bottles, salt, and colored chalk (regular chalk, not sidewalk chalk). If you rub the colored chalk against the salt, it paints it that color and voi la. you have colored salt to layer in the jars. Super neat! The party was fun, but came to an end. After clean up, we headed back to the house. I read Daniel and 2-year-old sister Carla a bedtime story that I gave them as an early Christmas present. After story time, it was bedtime. Thank God for that becase I was beat.

Sunday morning, after breakfast, we went to the beach with some of the family members. We spent an hour there playing, talking and relaxing. It was great to see the beach in Almería again.
Sunday morning at the beach
After the beach we went to the village to have a big paella lunch. Per usual, there was way too much food to eat, but it was all delicious. After a relaxing afternoon in the village, we headed back to Almería. Later that night, I hopped on the night bus back to Madrid, back to my new-normal.

I'm very glad I went back to Almería, I have made so many amazing, lasting memories there. But, it's strange being in a familiar place when a lot of things are unfamiliar at the same time. I was in place that I know so well yet nearly everyone I knew, most of those people from my memories, are back home now. I'll admit, it wasn't the same being in Almería without my friends from last year to share it with, but it was still good to see it again. Being there made me realize that it wasn't just the people that made it great, it was the place itself as well.

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