Or “A Day in La Cañada.” This is the name of the town where Abel’s mom lives. Her name is Marisa, and she is who we’re renting the apartment from. This town is about twenty minutes northwest of Valencia, and we’ve visited her a few times already. She made us lunch which we thoroughly enjoyed. The dishes were all very simple but extremely flavorful. I’d love to make some of the recipes sometime! Below we have three appetizers, then came the main course, then fruit salad, then bizcocho (the sponge cake), and Abel split an ice cream sandwich with me. Not to mention the addition of bread and drinks. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much in my life! I didn’t mean to over-eat, but I didn’t know how much food there was (since it came in waves); I just ate accordingly and wanted to try everything. Needless to say, we didn’t need to have dinner that night. Casey and I laughed because she gave us new plates for every course. Fancy! And Martina was extremely excited when she learned how to cut more cake for herself.
Just before lunch, we walked behind Marisa’s house to look at the community pool. Casey actually swam in this pool three years ago. It looked very inviting today too, but he resisted. I took a picture of the pink hibiscus flowers which you saw at the beginning of this post. After lunch, we walked to the nearby park to play!
Martina pushed me down the slide, but all you can see is my hair.
We tried to teach Martina how to swing by herself, with me demonstrating. Legs up! Legs down! She finally got the hang of it.
After playing, everyone wanted horchata and fartons!! I don’t know how they could eat something so soon! Maybe I was the only one who ate so much. “Gracias por su visita” means “Thank you for your visit.” I think it summed up our snack. I’ve noticed that many restaurants have these napkins as well.
Well I guess I wasn’t completely honest about not eating more food that night. Casey and I did have a late-night snack of one of my favorite desserts that is no longer available in the US! Viennetta! The best fancy ice cream…thing! What would you call it? A bar? I’ve only found it in Sweden and Spain so far, so we treated ourselves!
The elevator in our building has a little TV that shows which floor you’re going to, as well as random information and facts. We thought it was interesting that they showed Nigeria’s independence day: October 1, 1960. Casey was in the elevator by himself one day and took the picture of the cat for me. It’s so cute! It also says, “Did you know that… cats have 32 muscles in each ear.” Funny little facts.
We ordered Chinese food for delivery one night and it was decent. It probably is more like authentic Chinese food because it doesn’t taste quite like the Americanized versions we’re used to. Casey got his usual lemon chicken and I got kung pao. The Chinese food is similar in Lagos too. I would guess it’s the same everywhere except in the US. I snapped a quick photo of Casey chilling behind the couch. He was monitoring the AC unit because it leaks every now and then since the water pump is fickle.
We’ve had our Brompton bikes for five months now, so it was about time to clean the chains. We probably should have done it earlier, but alas. Our original plan was to go to the park and clean them on the grass, but it started to rain, so we improvised. Luckily, the bikes fit adequately in the shower! And they were easier to clean than I expected. (I’ll talk more about the bikes in a later post.) The ducky loofah below took us forever to find too since they don’t seem to be popular in Spain.
One night, we decided to check out a mall called El Corte Inglés and we were thoroughly impressed. It is eight stories tall! It is one huge department store with clothes, shoes, electronics, furniture, appliances, a grocery store, pharmacy, food court, cafeteria, and a restaurant… pretty much everything you can imagine. We did a little shopping and wandering, and then had dinner in the cafeteria. We bring our bikes in everywhere, so they sat next to us and admired the view out the window. Afterwards, we went out on the patio to look around and listen to music. There was a live band playing songs in English and Spanish.
A week after we arrived, Abel left to go back to work in Lagos. It was different not having him there to organize our days and just talk to him, but we managed and found plenty to do, as you’ve seen. On the weekends, Maria takes Martina to visit her grandma, Marisa, so we joined them for another day in La Cañada. Martina was especially cheerful that day, and she had so much fun “cutting” Casey’s hair. She cut away for a long time and, as you can see below, she did not want to let him go! She also brushed my hair and attempted to tie it. I think she was impressed to see all of my long hair. It’s sweet to see her slowly get used to us. She didn’t like us touching her the first few days, but now she lets me tie her hair or even help her down from the car seat.
Marisa made us lunch and dinner again. She’s so generous and thoughtful! She is also learning English, so we can help each other out with the languages. We had a quiche for dinner filled with jamón and cheese. Maria made a little heart on top! For lunch, we had a very simple but surprisingly tasty salad. It consisted of spinach, tomatoes, red bell pepper, corn, guacamole, and imitation eels. Now that sounds strange, and I was a bit wary at first, but the “eels” are made of the same stuff as imitation crab, so they really didn’t taste like much of anything. I don’t know if I would have eaten the salad if they were real eels though. Guacamole was the only dressing, but it was quite good! And I’m not even a big fan of guacamole. Casey really enjoyed this salad, which is why I took a picture of it to remember it. In between lunch and dinner, we walked to town and I spotted an amusing drawing on a wall. I think it’s funny, even though the message is a strong one.
On another day (and all the days now blend together), Martina enjoyed pushing her doll in the stroller. She looked so chic in her pink sunglasses. Afterwards, we all looked online for the best Spanish language books. You can see Maria’s dad, Mariano, in one of the photos below. Casey and I ended up buying an e-book on our tablets to study Spanish together. We’ve been reading and doing the exercises together, and we intend to keep this up while he’s at work. Which reminds me, he’ll be going back to Lagos next week, and I am going to stay in Spain. It’s a safe city so that’s not a problem. I will just have to keep myself busy…
I made an uber delicious meatloaf one night! (Why are all my posts about food?) It was so good and super moist. I’ll send you the recipe if you want it. Casey is not a big carnivore by any means, but he really enjoys this meatloaf!
Now we’re finally catching up to the present time! Last Monday, Casey and I went on a long bike ride through the park that is near our apartment. In the map below, the red circle is our apartment and the blue circle is Abel’s apartment. The whole green area in between the green lines that I made is the park! We call it “The Rio” which means “the river” because it used to be a river that they damned up a long time ago. I want to say it’s about 4 miles long from end to end. We rode from our apartment to the north end and then back. On the way, we stopped at a cute arbor and then continued on to a lake. We picked up a pizza from Domino’s as well to treat ourselves! You might recall that Domino’s is also in Lagos. I think it’s one of the more international food chains.
It was a beautiful lake that somehow became part of another waterway. I’m not exactly sure of the specifics. There were two white ducks nearby who seemed to know each other. A black one came along though and even Casey and I could feel the tension in the air. The larger white duck and the black one slowly got closer and closer until they attacked each other! It was crazy to see! After lunch, we rode our bikes along the waterway and saw a huge school of fish. They looked like giant goldfish or maybe koi, but that would be a lot of expensive fish!
On the way back to our apartment, we turned into an alley and happened across the most adorable café called “Antique Café.” It had books on the shelves, British flags on the tablecloth, paper from books on the ceiling, and just a cute atmosphere. They had brownies, “American cupcakes,” and cake. We got a coffee, frozen lemonade, and a slice of red velvet cake. It was yummy! I think they soaked the cake in some liquid so it was more moist and spongy then I would make, but it was still a nice dessert. We were pleased! Casey described it as, “When you’re in the US and you think about going to Europe, this is what you picture yourself doing: riding aimlessly through the city and then spontaneously coming across a quaint café for coffee and dessert.” So true.
That night, we brought dinner to Maria and Martina for a change. I had a lot of leftover meatloaf so we brought that, roasted potatoes, and bread. Maria hadn’t had it before but she loved it. Casey looked cute all loaded up with the food and the bread sticking out of our bike bag. It’s a great delivery setup.
I made another mini apple pie as well because I wanted to try making my own pie crust without appliances. I have FINALLY perfected a pie crust using the food processor, but of course I didn’t bring mine with me. So I tried it in a regular bowl and it almost worked. It is extremely light and flaky, but it’s dry and not buttery. It’s kind of like shortbread but flakier. I’m not sure what changed in the chemistry, but at least it tasted better than the store-bought crust. I made a quick caramel sauce and Casey was happy! That’s all that matters.
Well, you’ll be glad to know that that’s the end of the Spain section! The next part will deal with our short trip to Sweden. We are going back to Spain tomorrow night (October 12th), so I will have to write about Sweden later. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our first couple weeks in España. I’ll try to post more regularly instead of in big clumps like this. Once Casey goes back to work though, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing, so who knows what I will have to write about. You and I will find out together.