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,