La primera mañana

The house is silent. It is 9am and I am craving a shower and some breakfast. My natural thought is to get up and make everyone pancakes. But I don’t want to be rude. I don’t know the customs. So I get out of bed and start unloading my life from Seattle into my closet in Spain. A las 10:30 my family slowly starts making their way to the kitchen and my host mom peeks her head into my room. Her eyes widen as she looks down at my clothes, shoes, and gadgets spread over every possible surface. “Only a little more to do!” I squeak and she nods her head with a weary smile.

My family shows me where the food is and tells me I will be making my own breakfast every day. I savor the warm toast and the sweet juice from fresh fruit after surviving on airplane food for the past two days. I slurp up some pineapple juice and try to fit in with my new family.

My host mom takes me to la plaza de San Antonio where pre-Carnival festivities are taking place. There is a huge line of people rounding the plaza waiting for free plates of oysters. Families stand in circles passing around plastic cups to be filled with wine or beer. Little kids throw confetti into the air and watch with eager eyes as the wind blows the colored pieces into the distance. Bags of chips are handed off between friends and everyone is taking fast, fast, fast, and I can only pick up a few words from their conversations. My host mom introduces me to her family and they offer me drinks. I am starving, but they don’t eat lunch until the afternoon and I feel too awkward to say anything to my host mom.

The Spanish people in the plaza are beautiful like models from a catalogue. Their hair, makeup, and clothes are immaculately styled. The young girls around age three wear small pea coats, tights, and leather boots. The little boys have loafers and buttoned cardigans. It is unlike anything I have ever seen in America. I feel overwhelmed and undressed.

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