Out of Valencia!
Now it's Christmas day and I am in the quaint and beautiful city of Murcia. Few Spaniards even know about it. I guess that's why I decided to come. In a sense it's like the Wyoming of the US. =)
On the bus ride I listened to the radio--politics and flamenco artists. I got into town, off the bus, and asked for directions. Another traveler asked me if I needed help. My tourist book gave me away. We ended up walking through town looking for this hostel that turned out to be a restaurant...
So being as I am, I dropped my stuff of at his apt, and went with him to his family's house for dinner. I got there and was immediately welcomed by small kids, women with babies, and this florescent green wall. The table was set for at least 30. Everyone kept on telling me how not everyone was even here.
All the food was placed on the table--red pepper salsa, octapus, shrimp (that hadn't be deshelled), pan, and potatoe puree, celery with roquefort and a walnut, and slices of cheese. Don't forget the bottles of red wine from Murcia, which is very strong. The grapes are picked during the hottest and most humid time of year of the region.
People were snacking on the food before everyone was seated or before the prayer was said. This was socially unacceptable with my family, which made this version of dinner realy just different and fun.
The prayer was said, of course, in Spanish. But everyone was making toasts and jokes during it so it took longer than normal to get through it. The fathers were doing most of the joking (these are elderly men were talking about).
Then we ate. It was loud. It was involved. It was wonderful!!
It was so delicious and out of the norm of what I'm used to seeing on a holiday table of any kind.
So I thought that once the food on the table was gone, it was all gone. Time for more drinks. Wrong.
They brought out baked eggplants. Each half was filled with vegetables, cheese, and some other tastes I can't put my finer on. Best part of the meal!! Berenjena is already my favorite vegetable. Put some cheese and more vegetables in it and voila--perfection.
Then, came came another dish. It looked like the American "pig in a blanket", you know the mini hot dog. But this had chicken and some kind of cheese. They put a salsa on it that I thought was made from beans. Wrong again. When I asked Maria, one of my new Spanish friends =), she told me it was uvas (raisens!). This blew my mind. This was fabulous. The salsa was made from green grapes and a few whole, sauteed red grapes were thrown into the mix. Who would've thought chicken, cheese, and grapes would work together?
After all this, I was quite full. One of the brothers, though, made a comment along the lines of "How long was she in the train station for? She's really eating a lot."
Bahahaha, I wasn't eating any more than anyone else.......well, at least I didn't think so.
At this point Antonio's sister, Eva, pulled out her guitar and played traditional flamenco and Christmas songs (wihch sounded like flamenco). Everyone sang and Maria got up and danced to one of them. They used a bottle of vodka and knife for some added percussion.
My spanish has improved tremendously! I could understand everyone and conversation was easy (except for my grammer. Speaking is still my plight, but listening is so much easier since I've gotten here).
Antonio and I left around 1.00.
There were so many people in bars and on the streets. I needed a jacket but the weather was still beautiful. Think northern Switzerland, in the winter, during daylight...
Fireworks were going off and people were so loud; it sounded like the start of a civil war.
This was the best possible way I could have spent my time in Murcia. I am so thankful for all I've been able to do in Europe, Spain, and with this family. I am extremely grateful for welcoming me with open arms. (Seriously, who does that???)
Even though everything is closed today, I think I'm going to go explore