Monday, December 10, 2012

Oliva: Day 3, A year ago today

[This post is a part of a forgotten series about Oliva, Spain.  Post one can be found here.  Post two is here.]

A year ago today was a Saturday, and I was in Oliva - a small pueblo just south of Valencia along the Mediterranean coast.  My old roommate Gregorio's parents live there, and this was the first time that I went to their house.

We had arrived in Oliva that Thursday evening, and at the end of the day on Friday I asked Gregorio, "How old is your father?"
Gregorio did some calculating, then answered, "Well tomorrow he'll be...[I don't remember what age he said!]"
"Wait, wait, wait, what do you mean tomorrow?"
"His birthday's tomorrow," Gregorio said.
"What?  But nobody's said anything about it.  Are you pulling my leg?"
He laughed and said, "Yeah, it's tomorrow.  Really"

I didn't know whether I should believe him or not, as he's always pulling practical jokes on me.

Saturday morning when I woke up, his parents had already left for "la casa de arriba" (the upper house, which is their house up in the hills, away from the coast/town.  We would be having lunch there, I was told.  I was excited to finally see this casa de arriba because that's where Gregorio's parents' dogs live.  That's also where Gregorio gets all his fruit from; whenever he'd return to Madrid from his parents' house, he would always bring back crates and crates full of huge Valencian lemons and oranges.

View from the balcony
Oliva, Spain

Fruit tree at the casa de arriba
Oliva, Spain

We went inside the house and saw Gregorio's father watching television in the living room.  Gregorio didn't say "happy birthday" (well, feliz cumpleaños) to him or anything, so I didn't say anything either.  Because it had probably been a joke to try and get me to make a fool of myself.

After checking out the rest of the house and yard, and after I'd soaked up the amazing view of the coast and surrounding forested hills, Gregorio found his mother.  She was outside cooking this for lunch:

Oliva, Spain
Paella.  Homemade, authentic paella.  Made by a Spanish mother on the Spanish Mediterranean coast.  Wow.

The chef and I, and the paella
Oliva, Spain
She was nearly done by the time we had arrived, so we soon carried it up to the dining room.

As we were sitting down, Gregorio's dad went to wash up his hands or something.  Then Gregorio said to his mother, "Let's have this champagne for dad's birthday."
His mom whispered back, "It's today?!"
"Yes, December 10," he said.
*gasp*  "Es verdad!" (you're right!), she said.

I probably gasped myself.  I couldn't believe that nobody had said anything yet about his birthday, and wondered if he had forgotten himself, or if he was waiting for someone to say something.

So when Gregorio's father sat down at the table to eat, Gregorio said something along the lines of, "Let's have this champagne for your birthday, dad.  Happy birthday."  His dad grinned.

Later I asked Gregorio's mother if there was anything they normally did to celebrate birthdays.  "Oh no, we [she and her husband] don't celebrate them," she told me.  "They're just like any other day."

So that explains it.  I'll never forget December 10, 2011: the first day I ate homemade paella in Spain, and Gregorio's father's "forgotten" birthday.

¡Feliz cumpleaños Eulalio!

No comments:

Post a Comment