¡Estoy una hija!

30 Aug

Patience is a virtue, right? I am waiting now, at 3 in the afternoon, for lunch after two small pieces of toast, orange juice and a gritty cup of nescafé coffee for breakfast. In the meantime, I have gone to class, taken a test, caught up on emails, cleaned my room and planned out my weekend… I am hungry or, as I would say in Spanish, ¡Tengo hambre!

My American body has not quite adjusted to the Spanish schedule yet. Although I am loving Spain, their meals and general life schedule are throwing me for a loop. On top of lingering jet lag, I hope this will soon pass. For breakfast, which is served every morning between the hours of 8 and 10 am, I am given the choice of toast or cereal with coffee. At 2 or 3 pm we eat lunch, which is, far and away the largest and best meal of the day. After three hours of intensive Spanish class, I look forward to this meal more than anything else (including my daily siesta.) Due to a late lunch, Spaniards do not eat dinner until 9 or 10 pm when their appetites return after the sun retreats along with its appetite stealing rays.

I feel extremely blessed in that my señora can cook like nobodies business. She always asks me, “¿Te gustas?” And I reply, as politely as I can with a mouthful of food, “¡Sí, me encanta!” With this said, I am embarrassed to admit that I am given an extra plate of food during every meal. It generally consists of leftovers from the day previous, such as warmed up vegetables, soup or half a pizza. I know my señora means no harm and is only ensuring I don’t go hungry, but it is difficult not to get offended when a single hot dog is staring blankly at you on a white ceramic plate while the rest of the family serves themselves another portion of salad.

I live with one señora named Maria, her daughter, named Maria, and their dog, named Lola. Although I completely refrain from using “Maria” to avoid any confusion I simply cannot explain in Spanish, one of my favorite things to say is, “¡Hola, Lola! ¡Hola, Lola!” …I’m good at that. Lola is the scruffiest dog I have ever seen, a mutt to say the least, but she has the sweetest heart despite her potential fleas and persistent begging. Either way, I love her most of all because she serves as a scapegoat during those awkward moments when I have run out of things to say in Spanish or am trying to divert attention from the awkward American girl who can only mutter when she likes food.

Lola - The scruffiest dog in the world.

My suspicion of Lola’s fleas increased after three days in my homestay when, while doing homework in my room, a tiny, brown bug came crawling up my wall. Per instinct, I smashed it with a piece of paper and realized that the germinating bites on my legs could be multiplying due to this little monster. Every morning I would awake to find more bites in more places, it started near my ankles; rose to my kneecaps, then my thighs and when they reached my stomach I could have no more. As a source of procrastination from homework, I began to research fleas and bed bugs. Despite my skepticism, fleas can live on humans. As I researched how people get them and how to get rid of them the webpage read, “Nothing is more embarrassing than when you’re out with friends and a flea crawls down your arm.” Awesome. It is such a good thing that I am not at an impressionable stage with my new family, friends and classmates. They’ll be understanding, I’m sure.

Trying to tell myself that I am far too clean for fleas, I began to research bedbugs. With each click of the mouse, it became more apparent that I did, indeed, have bed bugs. The bites looked like mine, they only appear in the morning and itch to no end. Homework had to wait. I stripped my bed in search of evidence, bugs or their shells (yes, they shed as the grow, disgusting, I know) and found what I believed to be small, tiny, grey shells. I stopped researching, held back tears and got in the shower at 2 a.m. We’ve been told to only take ten minutes showers as Sevillians are very conservative with energy and water, I swiftly heaved this rule out the window as I prayed that my señora would not awake to my thirty-minute attempt to scrub off my skin.

Once I felt sufficiently clean and a bit less itchy, I grabbed my computer and snuck out to the living room to complete my homework by a backlit word document. I decided to sleep on the couch for a few hours where I knew no bed bugs would attack. The best two hours of sleep I received all night. To avoid insulting my señora by sleeping on the couch,I awoke to my alarm at 6 a.m. and trodded back to my bedroom in order to sleep the rest of the night in my bed. As I stood in my hot, humid room staring at the white mattress pad, I prepped myself.

“It’s ok, you’ve slept here for the past three nights. The worse they can do is bite you a few times more, plus the bites only itch.  You’ll wake up in a few hours, everything will be okay.”

Until you have been forced to do so, there are no words to describe the anxiety that comes with lying down on a bed that has bed bugs. I put one knee on the bed with the other soon to follow and sat in the prayer position while I lifted my pillow once, twice, thrice, four times to ensure no bugs were crawling around my head. I lowered my torso and curled up in the fetal position thinking logistically that if I take up less space in the bed, it will be harder for them to find me (and yes, I ignored the fact that they attracted to a mammal’s heat and blood by their strong sense of smell). I placed my head on my pillow and conclusively shot back out of bed. I was sweating. I could not, for the life of me; sleep in a bed that I was 99.9% sure was full of little brown parasites! Parasites! I went back to the couch and slept lightly until I heard my señora wake up. Sneaking back to my room in hopes that she did not see me slumbering on her nicest couch, I dreaded the conversation in which I told her that I had bed bugs.

Google Translator: Bed bugs = Chinchas de Cama. Deep breath, here we go! “Me preocupa que tengo chinchas de cama.” (I am worried that I have bed bugs.) And with that, an explosive “¡Aye! No, no, no! No es posible! Son mosquitoes, mosquitoes,  sí, sí! No chichas! No, no!” She then went on to tell me that mosquitoes prefer white, pale skin, so they are drawn to me and since we sleep with windows open to keep cool, I get bit at night. Double win! After an embarrassing and potentially offensive conversation to my señora and her home, I left for school feeling exhausted and humiliated.

The good news is, I was wrong! And despite my stubborn ways, I am happy to admit this incorrect assumption. My señora gave me a plug-in with mosquito repellant to place underneath my window at night and since then, I have not been bit. This also provides me with more motivation to obtain a deep and lasting tan as I do not want to deal with those mosquitoe bites for the rest of the semester.

Chinchas false alarm aside, I have the best homestay family one could ask for. They have a good sense of humor (at least, I presume they do as they laugh often after seemingly quick, witty banter that my Spanish skills are rusty to understand), are extremely nice, can cook, have a dog and don’t mind that I smile and nod to most of their questions or comments.

After dinner the other night, I thanked my señora and was walking to bed when I heard her say, “Hasta mañana, hija.” (See you in the morning, daughter.) Before getting too excited, I reminded myself that I have misunderstood many things before and that my below Spanish par ears probably heard wrong. To my surprise, the very next night, she wished me the same adieu, I was glowing, thrilled with the thought that she would consider me one of her own. Maybe this is typical of homestays, I don’t know, but I am delighted.

Maybe she doesn’t think I’m crazy after all.

In the meantime, here are some more pictures of Sevilla to get your mind off of chinchas.

I have a thing for pigeons.

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede

A post on the Cathedral will be soon to follow! 🙂

3 Responses to “¡Estoy una hija!”

  1. Monicka August 31, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    I love your post! You’re so funny!! Good job being extremely productive while in Spain. I hope you don’t starve to death or getting eaten alive by mosquitoes . We all miss you and love you lots!

    Mini Spanish Lesson:
    It’s “soy una hija” not “estoy una hija”.
    It’s “tengo hambre” not “estoy hambre”.

    PS: Me encantan tus fotos!

    • Lindsie August 31, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

      Thanks Monicka, I’m glad you like it!! Also, I said estoy because I’m like a temporary daughter… but I know it’s really soy and as for the “estoy hambre” thing… I don’t know what I was thinking. Obviously I didn’t edit my post well enough because I know that. But thank you! I need someone to correct me because I’m constantly messing up and people here just smile and think, “Wow…. she’s an idiot.”

  2. Taylor Hendricksen September 1, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    Totally jealous right now. Spain looks sooooooo amazing. When will you get a chance to travel around the area a little more?

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