We were happy to be in Valencia for Easter. Joy took several photos from our balcony of the three Holy Week processionals that made their way down our small street. After being in secular Montevideo, Valencia feels much more Catholic to us. Still, though the days between Palm Sunday to Easter loom large on the Christian calendar, you’ll notice there aren’t as many spectators lining the street as there are paraders.
It’s a religious observance, important to the few but fairly ho-hum to most natives of this city.
In our last post I let you know a bit about our apartment in Valencia, a spacious two-bedroom flat, thoughtfully furnished by Karen Lopez, our solicitous landlady, who has hurried to fill our every request. We’ve learned in this Next Phase adventure that the Airbnb hosts are as important as the accommodations themselves. Karen gets our highest praise.
A couple of other plusses: 1) The grocery store is nearby, and since we carry our purchases home in bags, we’re glad for short walking distance. 2) On my morning constitutionals I have been able to reach some of the city’s best tourist sites, including the modernistic City of Arts and Sciences just a thirty minute walk away. What I am saying is that we have a very fine apartment, perfectly located for our purposes–and at a reasonable price. All is good.
Except for one little detail. The elevator. Sometime during the night of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the lift stopped lifting. It took a holiday for this holy day weekend. It descended to the basement and we haven’t been able to budge it since. We aren’t the only residents missing its services. Someone in apparent desperation tried to pry the ground floor door open, so it now stands with a six-inch gap, convenient for looking at the top of the elevator below, but otherwise unhelpful. I confess I understand the anonymous resident’s frustration.
Did I mention we’re on the 6th floor which, since in Europe the first floor is really Ground Floor and doesn’t count in the counting, means we’re really on the 7th floor. That gives us unobstructed views from the balcony, which we appreciate. It’s a little less than thrilling, though, to haul the groceries—from the conveniently located grocery on our block—up seven flights. That’s a full story for every decade of our lives. Joy counted the steps from the ground floor to ours: 96 of them). As of this writing, several days later, the lift has still not lifted itself from the basement. We’re developing strong calf muscles.
Jesse and Sophie Bentley (and Juliet, Liam and Elena) showed us a memorable evening out of town so they could introduce us, on a tiger nut farm, to Spain’s distinctive drink, horchata. It’s been around since the Muslim period (from 8th to 13th centuries) here, their gift that keeps giving. The milk-like drink is concocted from the yellow tiger nut, a tuber that when crushed suggests the taste of almonds. The drink is delicious and though non-alcoholic it can become addictive–at least to me. The accompanying bread, called a “farton” (pronounce with care), which is longer and fatter than a premium cigar, consists of baked flour glazed with sugar–every bit as good as your favorite donut.
The farton and horchata combo leaves the taste buds yearning for more. So did the company we were in. We hope to see more of the Bentleys while we’re in Valencia.
Easter is always a special day for Christians, even for those who are in church every Sunday. They are there weekly to quietly remember the “death, burial and resurrection” of Jesus; even so, this annual celebration stands out. On some Sundays we might be tempted (and even succumb to the temptation) to forsake the regular meeting with our fellow believers; on this holy day , though, you can find us at our post, worshipping, no matter where we are in the world.
So it was with us this Easter. We attended the Iglesia River Valley with the Allsops (Erik, Erin, Malachi, Elliott, and Jonas). Once again we were in the linguistic minority. This is a Spanish-speaking congregation. We didn’t understand many words, but as it was for us in South America, once again we felt at home. Though the pastor is a white-haired gentleman in his sixties (an American whose command of Spanish is flawless, according to the Spanish speakers we consulted), his message and manner communicate effectively with his quite youthful congregation. Amplifiers boomed the music at full throttle; singing and clapping and praising were enthusiastic. I know of at least one elderly person who turned off his hearing aid, not in criticism but to enhance the enjoyment of the experience. We’ll go back.
The Allsops invited us to their home for Sunday dinner: rice dish, pulled pork, garden salad, broccoli, fresh pineapple garnished with fresh mint desert, coffee. Perfect. When the meal and conversation had to come to an end, Erik walked us to the bus stop (I think he’s aware of our reputation for getting lost) and sent us on our way. We landed within a few blocks of our home. Then we proceeded to explore unfamiliar streets in our neighborhood. We hadn’t intended to, but since our two GPS apps didn’t always agree with each other and since we couldn’t show favoritism, we followed the dictates of one for awhile, then consulted the other. We weren’t lost. We knew where we were. We just weren’t certain how to get to where we live. (There’s a difference, you know.) Eventually we overrode the apps, trusted our instincts, found our block, trudged our way up the seven flights of stairs to our apartment, and 50% of us settled in for a Sabbath nap. A very good day.
JOY’S PICK OF THE PICS