My trip to Spain began with the drive south from Caunes, across the border near Jonquera, ( what a strange place….a real border town, making the most of selling stuff in Spain, to the French, who can pick up cleaning products ( and booze) at a fraction of the price in French supermarkets), further south to Figuera, bypassing Barcelona and onto Benicassim.
|Theatre in Figuera.....me experimenting with the black & white setting|
Arriving at Bibi’s home in Benicassim was lovely. Her garden guest house was very inviting and comfortable, and her adorable daughter entertained us with her amazing grasp of English. Uma is 6, but is very capable of speaking English and American, and clearly understands the subtle differences.
Bibi prepared a gorgeous meal, taught me how to prepare red peppers in the most delicious way, and she and Vicente made us very welcome.
The next day involved us walking on the beach and visiting a magnificent restaurant in the mountains and seeing Benicassim far below us.
The evening was spent eating wonderful tapas and walking through the town before stopping for a coffee while Uma played at a playground. We talked about “the crisis”, which did not seem very obvious to us, from watching a busy, clearly affluent town, where businesses flourished. Strong Spanish family ties…..where parents and grandparents are supporting the young is one way that the crisis is being hidden. In some areas 50% of young people are unemployed. A hidden economy exists where earnings are not declared, and cash payments required for work undertaken. These are ways of surviving in a climate where benefits, and huge social welfare cuts are being made.
|Bibi with Vicente and Uma|
So, some serious discussions, amongst catching up with Bibi and her family. I was one of Bibi’s teachers in 1984/5, when she, like me, spent a year in an American high school. It is an experience that was important for both of us, and it is a real delight to me that we have kept in touch over the years. Bibi lived with a family in Sheboygan, Wisconsin during that year, and her American “mom” became one of my great friends…..she also taught at the high school. Needless to say, some of the talk between Bibi and I was about her US mom, my friend, Jane……and how we would love to get her and Lee over to Europe again. Now that they have Bibi in Benicassim and me in Caunes…..a mere 5 hour drive away, we think we can build a good case.It was with sadness that I left Bibi, but it is great to realise that we are only a few hours apart now…..so, getting together will be easier now than ever.
|Looking forward to seeing you again soon Uma.|