Donna looks around our house on Calle Antonio Maura and exclaims, “Living here feels like camping!” I have to do a few mental calculations to determine if she thinks this a good, or a bad thing. I asked her if she had ever put on a backpack, climbed halfway up a mountain, and pitched a tent. There was a long silence before she answered, “Maybe once.”
Camping with Donna means putting a blowup bed in a tent, bringing a down comforter, Pendleton blankets, high thread count sheets, a pop up shower enclosure, and two battery operated shower pumps. When she says it feels like camping it doesn’t mean she thinks we are roughing it. She means that in order to make coffee we have to use a lighter to light a burner on the stove. Hanging clothes out to dry in a Mediterranean breeze reminds her of camping too. It reminds me of my Grandmother’s house.
It is true that we don’t have an “American kitchen”, or a clothes dryer. We wash our dishes by hand. Our clothes are air dried. Upstairs the rooms are heated with portable heaters, and cooled with fans. Downstairs there’s a fireplace, and a single air-con/heater unit. The Spanish real estate agent showed us a house that had a kitchen with no roof. She told us the weather in Oliva is “very soft”. Living in that house would have required a blue tarp to cook under. That would have really felt like camping.
In many ways our current Spanish lifestyle is still informed by our insular Covid19 lifestyle. That lifestyle was informed by Seattle’s own peculiar style. When I was 17 my brother offered some advice about Seattle’s social scene, “If you don’t have a girlfriend by October, you’ll have to wait until April to meet anyone.” Seattle is like that. When you are born and raised there you need someone like my brother to point it out.
Today it’s raining and 61 degrees in Oliva. We could light a fire. We could turn the heater on, but we won’t. We’ll curl up on the couch. Donna will read. I will fidget and think about the best way to make ceviche with the smoked cod we brought from home. It’s a perfect way to spend a rainy day no matter where you are.