Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Beaches and Besos


Borja and I have taken a few walks along the Playa de San Juan in the evenings and this is becoming one of my favorite rituals.  Walking down the beach lined with palm trees, both planted for aesthetic purposes and naturally grown, I can’t help but be grateful for being here, enjoying the sun, the warmth, and the sea.  People of all ages walk this stretch of beach in the hours of 6-9pm, after siesta and before dinner.  In Spain, this walk is called a paseo, and is meant to be a leisurely stroll.  No one moves too quickly during this time, unless for exercise purposes, and it almost feels like a moment in slow motion.  You wouldn’t think time was really passing here except for the dying light.  Individuals, couples, groups, families, all literally strolling along the beach.  Some in conversation, some silent; but all just enjoying.

The line of palm trees on the Playa de San Juan
One of the views from the beach
La playa at night
After five days of enjoying another thing, the Spanish food, I decided today would be the perfect opportunity to get back to running.  Since the beach is only three blocks away and now a familiar place for me, I threw on the sneakers, turned up the ipod, and headed out.  Of course I didn’t get too far, as heavily laden as I was with my recent massive intake of carbohydrates, fried everything, and beer.  But I got to see la playa at another hour.  Being as early in the morning as it was (10am, but here in Spain, anything before noon is early), the beach was pretty vacant except for a few fellow runners, some early-morning sunbathers, and my new favorite discovery, the gorgeous pack of Spanish men who work for the city of Alicante and spend their morning sprucing up the beach.  So...10am everyday sounds good.


Since this is my first time in Europe, I’ve become acquainted with the custom of besos, or kisses.  Whenever I am introduced to someone, meet up with friends or family I’ve already been introduced to, or even just say good morning or goodbye to my Spanish family, we exchange besos, a kiss on each cheek.  Obviously we don’t do this in the Estados Unidos, and I was a little nervous about it.  How do you know which side to go to first?  What about the germs?  And, is this going to be awkward?  Turns out: the left, they’re more like “airkisses” so no germ issue, and sometimes.  

Despite the potential for middle-school-dance-awkward-hug/kiss-encounters, this is perhaps one of my favorite things about Spain so far.  There is a familiarity in this custom that just makes me happy.  Everyone is usually excited to meet me since I am la chica americana (who would have thought Western New York would be so exotic?), but exchanging besos is like meeting an old friend all the time; it makes me feel welcome here.  And so far I haven’t had any sort of homesickness (Sorry, Mom), but I think anything that makes Alicante seem a little bit more familiar, and a little more like home, at least for the next three months, is always welcome.

Thanks for reading,


  1. I am so happy that you're happy! Beautiful Espana! Glad you're not homesick. Enjoy the besos! Love, Mom.

  2. Well, so much for getting any sleep. Me, not my daughter. So she's an adult. That does not mean I'm not worried about her out on a Paseo, walking along with a beer and a donut, and suddenly chasing a herd of gorgeous Spanish men trying to give them all Besos.

    I'm shipping her a large can of pepper spray and a baseball bat right now. Don't get me wrong. It's not for her protection. It's for the Spanish guys in case she catches them. I'm glad they don't exchange Besos in the Estados Unidos. On the cheek is enough, at least during a first meeting. I don't even want to know what an Estatos Unidos is! Sounds kinda raunchy.

    At least I can enjoy her excellent photos! She must know a photographer.

    Stay safe sweetheart. You mean everything to us and I'm so glad you are enjoying the experience!

  3. I am making a concerted effort to not be insanely jealous of all the palm trees in your pictures. Actually, you should totally be jealous of me. I'm living it up in Buffalo, it is currently sleeting outside, and a beautiful coating of slushy sludge is covering the ground...*sob*

    Three cheers for gorgeous packs of Spanish men!



  4. Ohhhh Mom and Dad. You twoooo...

    Sara, I am obviously jealous of the sludge. I miss it dearly! It's been a full week since I have been sludgified and I don't know if I can take it anymore!

    I'll channel you next time I'm on the beach. Miss you and thanks for reading!

  5. Ok I think I'm now looking forward to your parents' comments more than your actually posts!

    Really the only part of this that I decided to pay attention to was the part about how in Spain anything before noon is early. My dream place! Just kidding, it makes my heart happy to know yours is. And I totally know what you mean about the kissing! When I first went to visit Mark's family I loved the kissing thing, it really makes you feel welcome. So then I started kissing everyone and realized that I was forcing people to kiss me. And I would accidentally brush lips sometimes when I didn't know which side to go to. Awkward.

    So I love hearing your stories and I need a Skype date ASAP. Thats spanish for right now.

    love you!

  6. I've been trying to get the habit of a morning run too. Unfortunately mine hasn't quite been successful as yours because
    1.)it would have to be at 6 am instead of at 10 2.)its been raining, sleeting and snowing...
    3.) I'm pretty sure the only men out are old guys with their dogs

    This week, I'm going to try to see Clay as lovely Spain and maybe I'll actually get my butt moving!

    I'm glad to hear you're having such a wonderful time! Enjoy!

  7. Always happy to motivate Jess. And Reg, they are quite the comedians (at least they think so).

  8. Hey Lish! Just caught up on your last few blog entries today. What great writing and storytelling! I think the besos are a very European thing, as they seem to be pretty standard in salutations with the Brits I know and also a Polish in-law of my family. Personally, I like it, and I think you should bring this custom back to the US! Also, your Dad's response to this one is killing me-- ha!

    Be safe & happy,

  9. Woooo Ricky is finally reading the blog!