I just wrapped up a great long afternoon of getting work done on my laptop. My office? The internet house that the town of Oviedo has, providing free internet and computer use for anyone. It was almost 9:00pm and softly light outside from the summer sun on its way to set here in the northern region of Spain called Asturias. Walking back towards my apartment, my thoughts were contemplating whether or not I should go straight home or stop at my favorite cafe in Oviedo, Urban Coffee, to do exactly this – write this post and send it off into internet world. The people-person and writer in me won out because after all, it would be great to be around the good music they play and the energy of the lovely people who meet up with their friends there. While standing at the cross-walk and waiting for the pedestrian light to turn green, I looked over and smiled at the petite, white-grey haired lady waiting like I was to cross the busy street. And boy, am I glad that I decided to cross there and look over to smile at her…
The little old-woman, a perfect picture of elderly Spanish cuteness, started to speak to me in Spanish and asked me if I would help her push her cart of groceries across the street when it was safe to go. This is how I met Rosita Primavera, or as she told me to call her, Rosi. First off, her cart of groceries was heavy, even for me. It’s one of those carts on wheels that exist all throughout Europe but that I had never seen in the United States in all my now-thirty years of living there. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to finally just visit Europe cause I don’t have a picture to share. And visiting Europe is better anyways.
So…getting back to my story…I ended up walking with Rosi on my arm while she used her cane in her other hand and I pushed her heavy, cumbersome shopping cart across the street and around the corner to her apartment. We talked about “la vida” and how when you get older the body just doesn’t want to work. At least that’s what I deciphered from her Spanish and with my still-becoming-fluent Spanish ears. As we strolled to her apartment building door just around the corner, I learned that she was born in Oviedo and has spent her entire life here. She has three sons, one that lives in Barcelona, another in Madrid, and the other who also lives in Oviedo but is currently on holiday for a couple of weeks. Rosi lives alone and is 88-yrs old! I love seeing her wit and sharp mind that enables her to live alone. Yet I can see how the wear on the body must make it a challenge at times. Hopefully she will call me if she needs to make another trip to the grocery store before her son is back from “vacaciones” (yep, that means vacation).
I really enjoyed meeting Rosi and getting to talk with her. Her bright blue eyes are still clear and alive. At times, I thought I saw them tear up just the tiniest bit while we spoke and as I asked her questions and answered her’s. She is so sweet and was wonderful to talk with. I’m very glad I got to meet her. Maybe I will see here again one day.
I think that what makes traveling so special turns out to be the little things…the habits of the people, the daily routines ingrained over the generations, the tastes and smells of the culture, and the everyday aspects that are just plain-out different from me. More than anything, the people are what makes traveling so incredibly and indescribably energizing and amazing for me. What could be any better in my mind? Only the joy of seeing myself adapt to and take on many aspects of this new culture I am in. Maybe it opens up my mind and heart to learn even more about people and especially about myself? Yeah, of course it does…in all the little everyday ways…
…like walking everywhere, which here in Oviedo and most of Europe is the means of transportation for the majority of people, not the minority. There’s so much that I see about the architecture, the town of Oviedo I am living in right now, the people I pass by and meet at cafes and parks that I would otherwise have passed by and missed had I been driving.
One of my favorites is what I’m in the midst of right at this very moment while writing this: several families relaxing at the bar with their kids with them running around, noisy and chatty. Those kids will be out till after midnight most likely, even on a school night. While their parents are talking and enjoying their tapas and drinks, the kids are wolfing down “pinchos” (sandwiches). Well, at least eating as much as makes it into their mouths as they’re running in and out of the bar.
The fanatical frenzy of enthusiasm in the bars when the “futbol” games are on (aka, soccer)…even now one is taking place in Urban Coffee and shout of “GOAL” just arose from everyone here. There’s nothing like European love for futbol!
Oh, and another favorite (I obviously have more than one)…having lunch at home from some filling stew I made yesterday. As the large meal of the day it fills me up and taste great with the glass of red wine that is typical to have every day with lunch. The only tradition I did not practice, which is also very nice, is having a coffee after lunch and wine. And I skipped out on taking a siesta. I usually do because there is so much to see here and I still have work to get done.
The “fiestas” are going to start taking place soon. But wait a minute…didn’t Oviedo already have fiestas in the past month I’ve been here? You bet they did – a couple of them actually, that gave people the day off and had shops and restaurants closed so people could be with their families. Yet there are more fiestas to be had! Oviedo has a full ten days of fiestas that take place in September. My new friends I have made here kept telling me that I had to stay for September because it is the month of celebration and fun in this area. Starting the 10th of September, there will be ten days in a row of these local fiestas including a parade that features floats representing many of the different countries in the world. Not hard to sell me on this one. I’m staying!