Thursday, April 20, 2017

Driving like a Spaniard to hear James Fernandez' Spanish Immigration lecture

Despite major misgivings about driving 3-1/2 hours from Calahonda to Huelva vía Seville this morning, I surprised myself.  I had myself worked into a tizzy as I prepared for the drive.  The roads changed at times, but I had made myself a list of road numbers and the towns I would pass along the way.  And on day #19 with El Carro, I was quietly introduced to the fact that he'd hidden his GPS capability from me!  My heartbeat sped up for two reasons...I felt ridiculous not realizing it before and I was elated.  Without my GPS, the outcome of today would have had a different ending.

My friend, Rina, was a little worried about me driving into the wild blue Spanish yonder, so she put me in touch with two of her friends here in Spain.  First, was Salvadore who lives near Huelva and next was Lynette who lives near Sevilla.  I wouldn't be alone once I made my journey, she promised.

AND after today, I can confidently say I am a Spanish driver.  I now drive 120 km per hour even though I never believed I would.  The roads here in Spain are in excellent shape.  I had the Three Tenors singing to me from the radio as I merrily breezed across a hundred shades of green; rolling hills, stone bridges and tiered valleys of flat farmland.  When El Carro's GPS made funny sounds, I did not know why and ignored it.  I had enough trouble watching the road, you see.

El Carro found the Universidad de Huelva for me perfectly.  Once near the gates, I sent a text to Salvadore (at his suggestion) and he met me at a little outdoor cafe within ten minutes.  Over café con leche, we had an interesting visit (his aftershave smelled so good, I could have remained there for a long while...).  He told me the funny sounds from my GPS were alerting me to radar and I was probably driving over the speed limit!  He proceeded to tell me which fish to eat that didn't have bones, lybina (bass), merluza (hake), and lenguado (sole).  I told him about those sardinas... He said that he would be available by phone if I got lost.  He also said he is most anxious to see  his dear friend, Rina, next week.  This is a photo of Salvador as he's asking everyone we see walking near us...on the campus for directions.

I was in Huelva to meet Professor James Fernandez from the University of NYC and listen to his first of three lectures here in Spain regarding what we both love: Spanish immigration.  Salvadore checked all the tires on my car, told me it was safe to drive and then walked me into the university.  And it's a good thing he did.  With his perfect Spanish language and seeing more buildings inside the gates than I expected, we found The Aula de Grados...but it was the wrong building.  There are two (or more) lecture rooms with this name.  Salvadore saved the day, gave me the beautiful Spanish kiss on each cheek and left me with James, promising to see me and Rina next week.  

The lecture was, of course, in Spanish.  James and I have been friends on Facebook for about five years, but today was our first personal meeting.  His knowledge, tenacious spirit and hard work has led him to write books about Spanish immigration, including the book titled, INVISIBLE IMMIGRANTS.   Today, I was very pleased when he began the lecture by introducing me and telling the faculty and students a little bit of my story, including that my grandparents were from Spain.  During the lecture, he brought me into the telling several times and it was very special.  It's a good thing I knew most of his information, because trying to decipher the 90 minutes of Spanish was a mental jungle.  

I left the university smiling for several reasons.  Everyone was friendly and treated me with more than a respectful curiosity.  And one of the gentlemen heard me tell Jim that my book, The Girl Immigrant, has been recently published into Spanish, titled Historia de una niña emigrante.  And he wants to buy my book!  An exciting day.

Lynette, Rina's second gift to me, lives just outside Seville, one hour north of Huelva in Gelves.  The plan was I would drive to her home in Gelves and I would spend the night so I can drive home fresh on Friday with only a 2-1/2 hour trip ahead of me.  AGAIN, without the GPS in El Carro, I would have panicked instead of just shaking like a leaf because I'd turned off the highway prematurely and..  YEP...  I'd driven fruitlessly to and fro.  Lost and facing so many roundabouts and thousands (sure of the count) of cars all trying to take my space on the road, I was a mental wreck.  But, I am still in one piece and so is El Carro.  Another new contact, friendly, kind, funny and so talented...we ate bacalao (best I've eaten) with tomatoes and tuna..and washed it all down (and alone) with red wine.  A lovely hiatus here...

Seville city driving scares me spitless, so Friday I just need to have confidence in El Carro, drive under the speed limit and find my way home again.


  1. Eres mi amiga tan valiente. Tres anos en Espana y no tenia ningun deseo para conducir. Hasta pronto!

    1. Gracias... Mi coraje fue sacudido ayer, pero seguiré adelante!

  2. Gold Star Courage Award! What an outing! Brava <3 Keep up the Adventures, Lovey! OX

  3. Thank you. Brave slips now and then, but I continue... xo