Salvelio and I arrived in Spain on Monday July 1 amid the riotous jubilation and celebration, with Spain having just won the Eurocup Final 2012 the night before. We´d spent an anxious night on Lufthansa surrounded by Germans still smarting from their semi-final defeat to Italy. We didn´t know the outcome of the final, but there was little doubt of it as soon as we landed at Barajas and saw the airport filled with still-excited Spaniads in their Furia Roja T-shirts!
Having been collected by Salvelio´s best friend Julio in Madrid we hit the road for Salvelio´s village just as Madrid was beginning to prepare for a party to rival the one that followed the World Cup, which Spain won in 2010 – and before that the previous Eurocup final, too, in 2008! “No hay dos sin tres”, the Spaniards say, which means “you don´t have two without three”!
As “Los Campeones” Iker Casillas and his men began their epic busride to Plaza Espana at the centre of Madrid we followed the action on the radio while heading north west of Madrid to the region of Castilla y Leon and Salvelio and Julios´s home village two hours away.
Every village we passed through on the way had its Spanish banderas or little flags aflutter while homes too had huge flags draped from their balconies. We stopped for a late lunch in Avila where we explored the ancient walled city on foot a bit.
A menu del dia at la Postada de la Fruta in the historic heart of the city served us nicely for lunch. Salvelio and our friend Surita who is joining us on this trip from Cape Town had the ensalada mixta which was fresh and light given the heat while I said, stuff the heat, and had Judias blancas, the popular Castillian dish of white bean soup or stew with chorizo.
Postada refers to an inn of old and this one – La Casa No2 de la Plazuela de la Fruta – was built in the 1550s, first as a home to a prominent family while today, following extensive renovations in the 1980s, it houses the restaurant and offices upstairs.
Some fish and lomo (pork loin flattened with a mallet and pan-fried with a bit of smoked paprika or pimenton) and Spanish flan or creme caramel for pud and we were on our way – but not before calling at some of the confectionary and pastry shops to get some sweet treats like yemas de Avila, rich little sweets made from egg yolks and sugar and very traditional in Avila, where they are also called Yemas de Santa Teresa, the saint with whom Avila is associated.
It´s the most wonderful feeling ever to be back in this land of extremes. For Salvelio being in Castilla like going to the home of his soul and ancestry, for me it´s a chance to experience the community and cultural heart of Spain, and the joy its people have in living every day.
Let the adventure begin!