17 in Spain!
Celebrating My Birthday In Spain With My Family :)
I intended to post this yesterday (on April 15th for me) since I turned 17 yesterday, but the magic of the night with my family kept me away from writing. This birthday being the first without my parents and all my familiar friends and family, I was curious to see how this would go. I was lucky enough to receive messages from of my friends exactly at 12am my time (which was such a touching gesture since they would have had to account for the time difference).
My day started bright and early, and I woke up ready to see my little sisters. Oddly enough, the door to enter the communal spaces of the house (the kitchen, the living room) was closed, so I had to knock to enter. Little Carmen opened the door for me and loudly announced to Laura that I was entering. I entered the living room to see it full of balloons and a ready Catalina who played a “Happy Birthday” song for me on TV. We worked for a bit on a puzzle we started before Laura entered the room and gave me a long and loving hug wishing me the happiest of birthdays. Carmen, Catalina, and I then had so much fun conducting a photo shoot and throwing our own party. We spared no party decor, and I was bestowed not only glasses and a birthday headband but also a 17 balloon and a “Feliz Cumpleaños” sash.
This morning with my little sisters was so much fun. They REALLY wanted me to wear the glasses and the hat, so as the older sister, I naturally obliged :) They also found a very fun vintage camera program on my phone; I’m not even sure if it’s a camera or a filter yet as they both literally took ALL the pictures!
Much of the morning was rather uneventful, and after eating breakfast, I went out on a walk while Laura and the girls went out to the park. Once they returned, Roberto returned home as well from his hometown Zafra and we all ate a delicious lunch prepared by Laura. I remember sitting at the table after lunch waiting to ask the girls beg for postre (“dessert”), but they unusually started clearing the table. I didn’t think much of it, but I noticed Roberto pick up his phone as well, and Carmen searching up something on TV. I turned around to see Laura and Catalina entering the living room with a homemade tarta de bizcocho (a Spanish sponge cake), and everyone sang me “Cumpleaños Feliz” while the Happy Birthday tune played loudly in the background. The girls gifted me a lovely “V” sign, and Roberto and Laura bought me beautiful handmade jewelry specific to my province. The earrings they bought me were handmade cherries which is very representative of my province of Extremadura since cherry season is in full bloom this spring, and the necklace was a beautiful embroidered “V” in a very typical Extremeño (from the province of Extremadura) style.
After lunch, we didn’t do much, but I was able to record this little video of the girls interviewing me on my birthday because it was time to practice English and they wanted to do something special for my birthday. Here they asked me a few questions in English, and they wanted me to record the gifts I received so I could look back on this fondly in the future. They even ended up singing me “Happy Birthday” which they told me I should play every single birthday for the rest of my life :)
The biggest surprise of the night came when Laura and Roberto told me that they were taking me to eat at an Indian restaurant. I’ve been homesick for Indian food since I haven’t eaten any since I came here to Spain. We went to a cute restaurant called “Tandoori Darbar”, and the whole way there, Roberto and Laura were joking about how they would not eat anything since everything would be way too spicy. They ended up loving a couple of the dishes (the restaurant was Indian food adapted for the Spanish palette anyway, so it wasn’t too spicy!).
I had so much fun with my family today. The cake in the top left was homemade by Laura, and she even took extra precautions to hide it from me! We went to “Tandoori Darbar” and that was a family photo taken of us in the restaurant.
Since my birthday falls in Semana Santa (Easter Holy Week in Spain), I was lucky enough to begin 17 by watching one of the many beautiful and famous processions that happen in cities nationwide. We went to the center of the city around midnight and watched as people carried The Virgin through the center of the city around the cathedral surrounded by beautiful lit candles.
The Semana Santa procession was so beautiful. The apparel worn for this tradition dates back several centuries (although it appears misleading at first glance from its popular association with other organizations). The procession carried a lovely figure of The Virgin Mary surrounded by candles and the whole air smelled of incense.
I feel so incredibly blessed to have spent my birthday with a loving family here and my cherished family (all of whom are overseas this year). I’ve gotten distant from some of my friends back home, so I was initially sad upon the disinterest (or lack of closeness in other words) in some messages or the entire lack of a message, but I could not have asked for a better 17th birthday. Thank you so much to everyone who wished me, and I cannot wait to see how the rest of my time plays out. I still remember the first time I called Laura and Roberto back in December; Laura excitedly told me that I would be spending my birthday here with them. At the time, I acknowledged the fact, but it was too far out to think about. Having lived through it now, I cannot believe I am over halfway done with my time in Spain. As I continue to absorb everything Spain has to offer, I am grateful for all the friendships and relationships I’ve built here. Here’s to the best year yet :)