An Incredible First Visit to Asturias, Spain

     In 2003, my wife and I decided to finally make the trip to Spain to meet our family. All of our immediate family of five went.

    One just has to try to imagine the magnitude of never being able to go there to visit my wife’s Spanish side of the family (she is also Italian).  Her father was the only one in his immediate family in the province of  Asturias, in northern Spain, to come to the United States.

    The year her father went back to Spain was 1948, and not only was it his first trip back there, sadly to say, it was also his last.  So, adding up the years, the family there and our family here, had waited 55 years to finally meet. It’s unimaginable that so long a time had passed!

     We flew to Madrid from Tampa, Florida, where we live, and then, from the airport, we walked to the train station, which was nearby.

     The Spanish people are so friendly and hospitable and they love it when family members and friends visit.  We were soon to learn all about that!

     We were anxious, eager, a little nervous, but very happy, too, when the train pulled into the station in Oviedo, the capital of Asturias.  It is a very beautiful city and one of the cleanest.  It is also the sister city of Tampa..

     Nothing could have prepared us for the greeting.  Three cars awaited us and a wonderful group of family members was there to greet us, hug us, and kiss us. 

     Looking back, it was the most important experience, that we were finally going to meet the beloved family. Just imagine what a scene it was, full of tears of joy and great happiness.  We only know now how special it was for them to meet, for the first time, the only child of the eldest child in their family. Also, we felt the same for us to meet them. 

     They immediately took our luggage, packed it in the cars, and started the journey to the house.  We went up the steep mountain, along winding roads, to the beautiful mountain home in El Caleyo, above the city of Grado.

     There to meet us were many more family members who had stayed up late to greet us and to serve us a wonderful spread of “pinchos,” which are delicious Spanish hors d’oeuvres.. 

     We met on the terrace, with the house at one end and the barn that my wife’s grandfather had built, on the other.

     The people were and are so wonderful to spend time with and not only did we stay a month, but we have returned four other times.  Three times we got to stay right in the same home where my father-in-law was born.  Of course, the wonderfully comfortable and pretty home has undergone several additions and transformations since then.

     The beauty of the country is breathtaking and reminds me of tthaca, New York, where I was born.  The gardens, winding roads, the beautiful scenery, the fruit trees, lots of fresh vegetables and herbs are all magnificent.

     We have been blessed to be able to meet most of this lovng and kind family with the exception of a few cousins living in other countries.  What a joy to have met the two remaining brothers and sister of my wife’s late father and all of the current generations down the line.   

     One young member of the family, a cousin, is Hugo Fontela ( his complete name is Hugo Fontela Rodriguez), age 25, and he is now a famous Asturian artist who won Spain’s highest award as a painter, the BMW Award, when he was 19.  Other young members of the family are and have been studying and working in various places, in addition to Spain, such as Switzerland, Portugal, and currently in France.

     This is our extended family and I feel like a blood relative since we all love one another so much!  The generosity and hospitality of the family made us feel as if we had known one another all of our lives.  We had very warm and enjoyable experiences with the family and we know the importance of connecting with family members.

     Our lives are greatly enriched by my wife’s Spanish relatives and friends and we value them very much. To mention the meals we had with the family would be to say they all were so outstanding and delicious.  What memories we gained from eating such wonderful foods and savoring the fresh vegetables and fruits from their own gardens and the conversations that took place.

     In addition to getting to know everyone, we also appeciate all of their surroundings.  It’s truly a beautiful place. There were also the special family animals like the donkey, a cow and calf, the dogs, and the chickens.  One dog even rode in the tractor.

     We wish for you to have the opportunities to visit family members wherever they may be.  It’s very important to connect with your roots.

    It is hoped that you, the reader, will take many “first trips.”  May God richly bless you!

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