When I reflect on some of my favorite memories during my time in Spain, many of them involve total strangers or people I didn’t know very well at all. These last couple of months have truly been marked by moments that were full of surprises and spontaneity that I will never forget.
One day as I was walking to the laundromat, I was reflecting on my last trip there and was literally hoping and praying that there would not be anyone strange in there this time. I was exhausted and the last thing I wanted to do was to haul my dirty laundry five blocks to the laundromat. I was out of breath, carrying two large bags of clothes, and I remember thinking to myself, “When I get there, I just want to put in my airpods and relax in silence.” When I arrived, there was a woman fiddling with a machine that smiled at me and a man sitting nearby. I felt revealed that those were the only people I would be sharing the small space with.
I started to put my clothes in the washing machine and I noticed the woman was still fiddling with the settings on the washing machine she was trying to use. I was just about to put my airpods in when something in me decided against it. Instead, I asked if she needed help in Spanish and she responded yes and that she needed help finding the cold cycle in flawless English. Sometimes there is just no way to fit in while living in Spain with bright blonde hair and a southern accent.
She graciously thanked me for my help, as she had never used this laundromat before, and she began asking me about what I was doing in Spain. She introduced herself as Antonia Maria and her husband as Antonio. I couldn’t help but laugh at the similarity of their names. We talked about how I was studying abroad, learning Spanish, loving Granada, and she told me about her adventures traveling abroad in Germany, Egypt, Italy, and Morocco when she was younger. She smiled and laughed as she reflected on what she said were some of the most memorable times of her life! We discussed the value of speaking multiple languages as she knew English and German in addition to her native language, Spanish. Antonia also said that she knew my family, especially my mom, must be missing me so much because she remembered how much her family missed her when she was traveling.
After about 15 minutes of chatting, Antonia asked me if I had eaten lunch and if I minded watching her and her husband’s stuff while they went to the store to grab something. I replied, “No, and of course not!” and off they went. A little while later, they returned to the laundromat with bread, meat, and cheese to make me a sandwich! Spaniards live to host and feed their guests and Antonia was set on hosting me right there in the laundromat. She also brought me a fresh orange for dessert. Antonia and Antonio continued to chat with me while I ate and we waited for our laundry to be finished. They told me about what brought them to Granada, the story of the tea house they own here, and invited me to come in for a tea when its renovations are complete. I shared with them that I was leaving for San Sebastián the next day and Antonio was so excited to hear that because he grew up there! He gave me some awesome local recommendations, including tips to explore the neighborhood Igueldo that is featured in the cover photo of this blog.
When both of our loads of laundry finished, Antonio and Antonia both hugged me goodbye and wished me well. They were so precious and genuine. When I think about this afternoon, I can’t help but smile. It truly was such a gift to be randomly blessed with unexpected conversation, a sandwich, and an orange while waiting for my laundry. This couple made me feel so loved and cared for as they took the time to go out of their way to prepare a meal for me and as they talked to me about my life abroad and at home. When I reflect on my time abroad, it really is the simple and unplanned afternoons like this one that I cherish the most.
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<p>Hi! My name is Hannah Dean Smith and I am from Summerfield, North Carolina. I am currently a senior at UNC Chapel Hill and am majoring in Hispanic Literatures and Cultures. I have a passion for authentically connecting with people from different cultures and backgrounds, which led me to study abroad in Granada, Spain. A fun fact about me is that I share a name with the legendary UNC Basketball Coach, Dean Smith -- go Tar Heels! In my free time, I love to read, play soccer, and search for vintage books, furniture, household items, and postcards in local antique stores.</p>