Weekend at the Pueblo with the Fam!

After Session II midterms, I had another free weekend and was fortunate to be included in my familia española’s car trip to the pueblo (my host dad Luis worked that weekend, so he had to miss out on our adventures). For several days before we left, my family kept mentioning that we were going to the pueblo (little town or village), but I didn’t know where or how far from Alcalá it was located. I finally asked and found out that it is in the autonomous community of Extremadura (which is in the western part of Spain next to Portugal) and is near the city of Cáceres; it is where Luis’s relatives live. On Friday morning, we all piled into the car, stopped in Madrid to pick up Pili’s mom, and drove three hours to the pueblo called Casas de Millán.

When my family says the pueblo, they really mean the pueblo since Casas de Millán has a population of only 700 and everyone knows everyone else in the village. It was very quaint and adorable with all of the picturesque homes and narrow streets.

The streets of Casas de Millán
The streets of Casas de Millán

My mom explained to me how most of the houses have a huerto (garden) as part of the house; it can be inside the house (like in an open patio area) or a separate garden next to the house.

The huerto of our neighbors. This huerto is separated from the house.
The huerto of our neighbors. This huerto is separated from the house.

After arriving at Luis’ mother’s home, we walked through the town and said hola to all of the relatives and family friends, including the cutest baby I have seen all summer named Blanca. My mom dropped off gifts for them (including clothes and home-made decorated cookies that she made) and they all mentioned how Pili never seems to rest and is always thinking of others (so true!). Every person we saw wanted us to stay, chat, and have a drink with them. What I first noticed about the people from the pueblo is that they have a very distinct accent and way of speaking, where they join together a lot of words and sometimes eliminate letters, making it quite difficult for me to understand them. It took a little getting used to since I had felt confident in my Spanish, and then I got to the pueblo and I could barely understand anyone in a regular conversation!

After a short siesta, Nacho walked me to the municipal pool to meet up with Raquel and her friends. I couldn’t remember all of their names (there were about 10 of them!) but they were very friendly and welcoming. We lounged in the shade, took a dip in the pool, and played some card games. Nacho came back to the pool with his buddy, Sergio, and joined the activities. Afterward, Nacho and I walked back to the house (it is all uphill – work those calf muscles!) and stopped by their neighbor’s pilón (a mini pool or basin in their huerto) to take a dip in the mountain water and admire the fish and frogs.

Nacho enjoying the neighbor’s pilón!
Nacho enjoying the neighbor’s pilón!

Later, Pili and I took a walk through the town and we ran into Luis’ aunt who gave us a tour of her house, which is one of the biggest in town. It was absolutely beautiful! We first walked in to an open patio within the house on the first floor, climbed the stairs, and on the second level we enjoyed the garden. I want my future dream house to have a built-in huerto – how awesome is that? They explained that the home is like two houses in one because they had both summer rooms on the first floor and winter rooms on the second floor.

Along with the fresh mountain air, I enjoyed going to sleep that night while listening to the clanging of the goat herd’s bells as the animals meandered  along their path next to the house, and waking up in the morning to the sound of gobbling turkeys in the nearby huerto.

On Saturday, Pili drove me, Raquel, and Luis’ mom to a larger town nearby called Plasencia to buy groceries for Luis’ mom while Raquel and I went shopping (girl bonding time!). We returned to the pueblo, and later drove to another small town called Mirabel to buy some jamón (ham) from a specialty meat store. The ham in Extremadura is highly sought after – it comes from black-legged pigs that mainly consume acorns, resulting in this pricey regional delicacy. Pili ended up buying 50 euros worth of meat!

 So that’s what a lot of jamón looks like…
So that’s what a lot of jamón looks like…
 An ancient castle I saw on our way to Mirabel.
An ancient castle I saw on our way to Mirabel.

After shopping, we went to a friend’s house for her birthday party (Ester, who is Sergio’s mom); I got to relax, eat more tortilla española, talk to María Luisa and hold her adorable baby, Blanca.

After eating, swimming, and trying to follow the conversation of the adults, we returned home, and I siesta-ed for three hours! After, I took another paseo (walk) with Pili and her mom through the pueblo countryside past more huertos and lemon trees.

Artsy photo from my paseo (walk) with Pili and her mom
Artsy photo from my paseo (walk) with Pili and her mom
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood… Wait – there’s only one path!
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood… Wait – there’s only one path!
View of the mountain in the pueblo’s backyard.
View of the mountain in the pueblo’s backyard.

That evening, I borrowed clothes from Raquel, let her do my makeup, and we then left for dinner and mojitos at her friend’s house.

 All ready for our night on the pueblo together!
All ready for our night on the pueblo together!

Our last day in the pueblo was a siesta day. After sleeping until noon, Nacho and I watched some TV together. Leaving the pueblo was a bit sad, as I had to say good-bye to my little brother. Nacho is staying is Casas de Millán with his grandmother for two weeks until the family picks him up on their way to Cádiz for vacation after I leave Spain. The house will be a bit empty without Nacho in it; I’ll be losing my ping-pong/movie buddy who always gives me at least 5 hugs a day!

My last selfie with Nacho!
My last selfie with Nacho!

After a long drive, we arrived home in Alcalá. Every time I travel on the weekends, my favorite part is returning to my home in Alcalá and relaxing with my familia española.

This next week brings the start of my hospital internship with Doctor Nazareno and the CIEE trip to Valencia!