Today, I continue my interview series with my friend and roommate, Rocio. Rocio is a Montessori School teacher in Burgos, Spain. She spent the last two months in the Canary Islands teaching at a primary school and studying special education for Montessori schools. Montessori is a hands-on method of teaching in which the students interact with each other and the classroom. Students experience more freedom with this method than in a traditional classroom setting.
Rocio has taught me a lot in her short time here. She is the type of person you go to when you have a random question because she likely knows the answer. I have had the pleasure of exploring new places with her and our equipo de senderismo (trekking team) comprised of Rocio, me, and our friends, Laura and Nico. Rocio made living in the Canary Islands all the more fun with her fervor for life and her love of dancing.
Tell me about your home
I live in a small city in the North of the peninsula, called Palencia. It has lots of land and crops like wheat, barley, etc.. It’s called the Mar del campos (Ocean of farms). I know todo el mundo (everyone). The earth is clay and the traditional houses are made of adobe. It is a a simple and humble land, and it is large as well. It was a Roman City in the past of great importance. It is not so important now. It is a zone full of simple Roman Churches and poor territories.
I tell you all this to show that the people there are simple, conservative, and work very hard. People from my generation leave the city, but the generations before that stay for life.
Tell me about your travels
I started traveling when I was very young. I often visited my sister who lived in a different European city each year. I visited a lot of Europe when I was an adolescent in the summertime.
When I was 22 years old, I lived in the Netherlands. I worked in a center of innovation for sustainable pork after studying agricultural engineering. I designed toys, toilets, and feeders for the pigs. I also studied the effect of light on the pigs’ bathroom behaviors.
Later, I spent one year traveling in South America. I traveled to Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, and Ecuador. I went to visit my friends there.
How did you afford to live in these places?
I sold artisan work and food. I visited farms and sometimes I worked on them in exchange for food, like WWOOF(ing) (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms).
What was your favorite place in South America?
My favorite place was Iquitos, the Rainforest in Peru. It’s a very isolated zone where the Amazon River starts. It was my first time living in a place without capitalism and work animals. The people do everything by themselves and they are very connected with nature.
Where did you go after South America?
I spent a year traveling through Spain looking for an ecovillage to live. I was traveling for about 3-4 months when finally, I sat down with a guy who had a community on an organic farm in the North of Burgos.
Later, I came back to civilization, and I was working for a research center in agriculture at a University when I started my phD program. I was spending a lot of time in front of a computer, and I wanted to live a life real. I felt like I was living a virtual life so I left my job and phD program and started studying Montessori School. Now I’m studying Montessori for special education while I teach.
What is something you are thankful for?
For everything. For a country with resources. A family that gave me everything. Good capabilities, and the ability to take advantage of education.
If you could give advice to your 22 year old self, what would you say?
Relax. Slow down. Listen to your inner voice. Take care of your body.
If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
Bread or some type of fruit, but I don’t know… Bread. Grapes. Cheese. Bread. We have an expression in my region, “Uvas, pan, y queso, saben un beso”(Grapes, bread, and cheese, taste like a kiss)
How has Covid-19 changed your outlook on life?
I have not changed much because I am a very introspective person. It makes me value joy and joyful people.
Anything to add?
What I’ve learned is to stay in the present, love, play, and have wisdom.
Sadly, Rocio returned to her home in Palencia this week, and I already miss my confident and worldly amiga. I am so glad, I met Rocio in this little corner of the world, and I am looking forward to the next adventure we have together.