A Day in the Life

On Sunday, I went with Mario’s family to a little village called Puebla de Sanabria. Puebla is located in the northeastern part of Zamora (the province where Mario is from – they’re from the city itself). It’s beautiful, but most of all the lovely Lago de Sanabria, meaning Sanabria Lake.

It’s quite different from the rest of Zamora, which tends to be quite dry and brown. There’s not much rain. The lake is the largest glacial lake in the Iberian Peninsula, which includes Spain and Portugal.

I love traveling with Mario’s dad because he gets excited about everything and is the quintessential teacher/professor type. He teaches geography at a local high school, and it shows. Unfortunately, his voice was gone from a rather vicious cold, and he was unable to speak. Instead, he’d gesture wildly, hoping someone would interpret for him. Mario was quite good at this, especially after it became clear that the main thing he was getting pumped up about were there the chestnut trees. It was though he’d never seen one, even after he’d pointed out the fifth successive tree.

Here he is talking to me about some fact or another.

There wasn’t that much walking involved, although I suppose my family is a different sort from most Spanish families. A 2 kilometer long walk (approximately 1.25 miles) left his cousin saying, “We are soooo sick of walking.” It was cold, but I ususally can handle 1-mile long walks. After this, we visited another small site and promptly went to the village to eat lunch.

They say Americans are fat and Europeans are skinny, but don’t let that make you believe they don’t eat. Oh, they eat. Lunch is a long, drawn-out affair, starting with appetizers and progressing on to wine, salads, potatoes, and large steaks that took up a whole plate. Later, there’s dessert (maybe cheesecake or rice pudding) and shots of liquers, wherein Mario and I struggled to assert the fact that, yes indeed, alcohol depresses your nervous system, even if you do feel more awake after a glass of wine or two.

Me with Mario’s family and his crazy little cousin María.

I got to experience the phenomenon that will henceforth be known as Hurricane María. María is actually the daughter of Mario’s cousin Floro and his wife Marta. She is five years old and full of energy. Last time we met, she latched onto me with an intensity that can only be described as fierce. She couldn’t remember my name for the life of her, so I ended up being known as simply Marlin. Yes, like the father from Finding Nemo and, no, I don’t think we resemble one another, but you be the judge.

She talks a mile minute and, after this trip, I know why. It’s called…sugar. As we sat in the café, savoring our cafés con leche, María opened one sugar packet after another, pouring them into her mouth, on napkins, on the table, etc. Later, she stuck her hand in the spilled sugar and slowly drew her tongue across her palm. Her description of her typical breakfast? “Toast with sugar and three little spoonfuls of honey.” Sugar high much? Now, I doubt that statement’s veracity, as her mother claims she barely eats breakfast, but still…in her world, I think that would indeed be a rather delicious start to the day.

María, if you feed me toast, sugar, and honey we really can be best friends. And you can call me Marlin all you like.

All in all, a great day with good food, family, and friends. Couldn’t ask for more.