I wanted to have more trips to el campo and meet the rest of the family. I wanted to enjoy picnics in Cercedilla and watch the sunset at Parque Dehesa de la Villa. I wanted to cook dinner and exchange family recipes. These are just a few of the things I was looking forward to doing with my host family.
But, even though we are half a world apart from each other, living in different time zones and somewhat different lives, I am still able to keep in touch with Cristina, Jorge, y Boina. Through Whatsapp and Instagram, I check in with them almost weekly, making sure everyone is healthy and safe. Recently, we Facetimed each other to hear each other’s voices and see each other’s faces. Because of Madrid’s strict quarantine rules, both can’t leave the house unless it’s to walk Boina or go grocery shopping. And, while the US hasn’t imposed such rules, my family and I have been doing the same. By keeping in touch with them, I also have a way to practice my Spanish.
Another way that I, personally, connect with them is through food. Several times since coming home I have made meals that I’ve had with my host family, such as tuna-stuffed shells and pasta with smoked salmon and avocado (my favorite!). This weekend, I even made a tortilla española with caramelized onions (something I wanted to try with Cristina). When I told them, she gave me a tip: make sure the oil is very hot when you put in the potatoes but then turn it down and let them cook. In the future, I plan on asking Cristina for recipes that I loved.
I cherish so much the memories I have with Cristina and Jorge, especially of the simple moments. I remember when Jorge sat me down at the dinner table to teach me Spanish grammar. I remember being in my room and softly hearing Cristina singing This Life by the Vampire Weekend in the living room. And although our time was cut short, I know in the future I will be revisiting them in Madrid!
Giovanna Sabini-Leite, student blogger primavera 2020