Way back in 2004, Allison and I spent the summer studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain (or as I affectionately came to call it, “the Manc”). This was a requirement for our dual majors in Spanish and International Studies, and right here I’m going to stop and say that I know you’re all shocked to learn that (a) we had the same majors in college and (b) we decided to fulfill our study abroad requirement together. And as long as we were going together, we figured it only made sense to be roommates, so when we enrolled, we requested a host family that would be willing to accommodate two students at one time.
In my head, I envisioned a true host “family,” complete with mom, dad, and two impressionable young children that would love and adore their foreign exchange big “sisters” from the States. So you can imagine my surprise when we received the details about our host and learned that we would be rooming with a single mother and her daughter that was just a few years younger than us.
Meet Elisea (“Eli”) and Veronica (“Vero”), our temporary mom and sister for the Summer of 2004.
A few fun facts about our host family:
1. Those are birthmarks on Eli’s face. When we got off the bus in Salamanca and she was there to greet us, I sincerely thought she had painted her face for the World Cup that was going on at the time. Thankfully I did not mention as much when I met her.
2. Eli was pretty much always wearing pajamas, or clothing resembling pajamas- in and out of the house.
3. As you can tell, Vero loved her some crop tops and took her cues on modesty from her mom.
4. Even though we requested a non-smoking home, Eli most definitely smoked in the kitchen while cooking our food and doing our laundry. She did it with the window open, so I think in her mind, it didn’t count.
5. Speaking of laundry, as is customary there, Eli hung our clothes out on a line to dry. It was a neat surprise when we woke up one morning to see our colorful array of underwear displayed outside our bedroom window for all the
6. They kept “The Simpsons” on TV basically 24/7.
7. The first meal Eli prepared for us consisted of scrambled eggs, pasta, and chopped up hot dogs. No lie. She also made us chocolate sandwiches as a snack and served us whipped cream on a plate for dessert.
8. She posted rules on our door in broken English, including, “It's included one washing machine per week.”
Unusual habits aside, they really did take good care of us and became our home away from home before we knew it. We haven't kept up over the years, but maybe one day my travels will lead me back there and we can be reunited... and hopefully they'll have a chocolate sandwich waiting for me upon my arrival.