So I mentioned in my previous post that I’d go into more detail about the experiences we’ve had people of Nalda, the pueblito (small town) where we are staying for the time being.
I guess I’ll start with the first night: after our first full day in Spain came to a close, two tired and slightly overwhelmed travelers (well, me in particular) ventured into town from the cottage we were staying in about 10 minutes outside of town. Newly arrived in Spain and therefore unaccustomed to mealtimes, we though we might still be able to catch tapas at that hour of the night, (as we found, in smaller towns, food isn’t accessible as late as in the cities, where one can often snag tapas as late as 11:30 or 12). We asked a bartender if he knew of any place that was still serving food and he went outside to ask around…to our surprise, he came back with an older woman who motioned for us to follow her. Soon we were joined by her daughter, and to our utter delight, we were led to a little shop (obviously closed) that they owned and opened up especially for us and made us bocadillos (sandwiches). Feverishly thanking them for their kindness, we walked back to the bar to order some vino to drink with them, only to have half of a bottle bought for us by another wonderfully nice older man. “Te invito a Nalda,” he said warmly. (You’re invited, or welcome to Nalda) We spent the rest of the night marveling at the incredible hospitality of the people of this town that was showered on us so undeservedly. All we could do was acknowledge as the wonderful heaven-sent gift that it was (I don’t think it was a coincidence that the woman who helped us had the last name “Angeles”), and thank everyone profusely.
To our continued amazement, the kindness and warm welcome from the people of Nalda did not stop there. The next day, when several of us came to the town to do some hiking in the nearby caves, we realized we came too late for lunch. After asking a few people if there was anything around that might be open (again) we resorted to wandering around town for ourselves to check things out. Out of nowhere, the city maintenance man offered to give us a ride to a nearby restaurant that would have been walkable, but was still a bit of a hike (a favor much appreciated because of the hot weather).
That evening, while sitting outside a small bar enjoying a glass of wine and the beautiful night air, we had wonderful conversation with some of the older ladies (who have now become friends), a tradition that we have continued to uphold every evening we are in town. From suggesting places to eat, to helping us take the right bus to the city, to treating us to new foods, the things they did were small; but it was the fact that they did them even though they didn’t know us at all—we were just these strange Americans that suddenly appeared in their town. They are some of the the most charming, kind, warm people we have ever met and we are so incredibly blessed to know them.
I hope someday I can return the kindness to a traveler someday.