Yesterday, January 6th, was Dia de los Reyes Magos. Spanish kids write letters to Balthazar, the Moorish one of the three kings, who brings them their presents. Santa occasionally visits houses, but not very often. Kiddies open their presents on this day, after watching parades in their neighborhoods with bands and floats carrying the Three Kings.
Of course, the students were quick to ask me, “Que te han traido los Reyes?” Or, What did the Three Kings bring you? When I asked them the same question, nearly all of them had gotten a new computer, a new mobile phone and an XBox or Wii.
I thought the whole world was in a financial crisis?
While the Reyes brought me things like Ugg boots (ugly but so calentitas!), plane tickets to Austria and to China, they also brought with them a flu and a cold. I got sick just a few days before New Years, and despite my best attempt to take it easy (which is very taxing on me!), I remained a little malita throughout the trip to Austria. Lots of sneezing and hacking and bundling up. Flying home only exacerbated the problem and I got off the plane with a really nasty sinus infection. My lovely suegra couldn’t understand what I was trying to tell her amidst all of my coughing, so she merely sent me home with half a bushel of oranges and some lemons. I’m feeling better today, just stuffy.
I had a really nice, looooong, 18-day break. It was nice to sleep in someone else’s bed and have heat and be cooked for! But really, for my first Christmas away from home, it was really enjoyable. I mostly stayed put in Andalucía, but I did go to the Sierra Nevadas, just outside Granada, to snowboard with Kike and his brother. I spent a little bit of pasta to buy some ski gear and then had to pay for rentals and lift tickets, but it was really fun. There aren’t any trees on the whole mountain! It was also windy, leading to the lift closure and tons of people on the lower slopes. For Kike’s first time snowboarding, I was really impressed at how well he picked it up. He did a lot less swearing at the mountain than me on my first day!
On New Years, I had dinner with some friends and a group of parents and rang in 2009 at Plaza Nueva. It’s Spanish tradition to eat twelve grapes on the twelve strokes of midnight for good luck – I only managed to pop 9 in my mouth because i kept swallowing seeds! It took me three hours to find a cab, resulting in me walking around Sevilla to every taxi stand I knew and calling every taxi number I have in my phone. Crying, I finally went to a hotel near my house and asked the receptionist for more numbers. She and the doorman were able to find a taxi for me and all ended well.
Lots of luck and love and happiness in the new year, especially for the new Mr. and Mrs. Pat McHugh! I’ll write about Austria as soon as I get the chance!