Ok so picture this. I’m sitting on the bus, waiting to hear my name; waiting to have my turn to meet my new Spanish family. Outside the window, I watch as my friends meet their host moms and it’s hugs and kisses galore. I run through my Spanish over and over again, making sure my grammar is right in my head so I can properly introduce myself. I’m literally shaking with excitement. This is it! I need to be completely prepared.
Marie and Omayra giving besos on Marie’s birthday!
Finally, I hear “Katie Martorano!?” I practically gallop off of the bus. I was finally about to meet Marie (72) and her daughter Omayra (26). Now, I don’t know about you, but I expected to see an older woman with friendly smile lines, and her spunky daughter. I expected to have to do that two-cheek kiss-thing like in all the movies.
I get off the bus and lo and behold standing in front of me is an impecably dressed, young, thin woman with jet black hair, dark eye makeup, and heels. Next to her was an even younger looking girl who couldn’t have been older than me! Although I was in awe they both looked so young, I was too happy to analyze.
However, I was still expecting to speak Spanish, right? Wrong.
I was welcomed with a bright hello from this stylish woman. So here I am, fumbling between hello and hola because she completely threw me off. She knows English too?
Regardless, I get over my fumble and kiss both her cheeks. I notice the younger girl is standing by her side so I go to greet and kiss her too. But for some reason, she is acting super unnatural. Did I do something wrong? Are you not supposed to greet daughters?
Oh, silly, silly Katie. Now let’s clarify. The younger girl proceeds to start laughing and explaining that she is my new (and very American) roommate, Cristina. Oh.
So the other girl is Marie’s daughter, Omayra. I haven’t even met Marie yet. Oh.
Finally the world made sense again.
We drive in Omayra’s car to my new home, speaking Spanish (and some English for good measure), and get to know each other a bit. Omayra is one of the bubbliest, kindest people I have ever met.
When we get to the house, I begin hauling my luggage up the mountain of stairs. Finally, I’m almost at the top; I think I can see Marie!
When suddenly I hear a crash. Awesome. I just knocked over her glass vase with a bajillion marbles in it before I’ve uttered my very first “Hola.”
I met my host mother for the first time while scrambling on her floor. She bent down and searched with me in her signature fluffy red robe and slippers. Even though I was profoundly embarrassed, I was welcomed with a round smiling face and a laugh that you can hear in China.
When you first get to Granada, you’ll have expectations, lots of them. People are going to tell you all sorts of tips on what it will be like, and advise you to do this or that. Your brain will be overflowing. That’s why, when you’re sitting on the bus waiting to hear your name, relax.
Just expect to have fun. In Granada, that’s the only thing that’s certain.
Picture 2: My host mother Marie, striking a pose in her signature fluffy red robe.