ROCIO

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.

Nico, Me, and Rocio posing with El Diablo at Timanfaya National Park in Lanzarote

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.

Check out one of my favorite adventures with Rocio!

JULIA

So… I had this idea for my obligatory Thanksgiving blog post… I planned to write about the people I have met in the Canary Islands that I am thankful for. Novel idea. I know. I started my entrevistas or interviews with my roommate, Julia, and I immediately realized that this plan was insufficient. I don’t know how I could possibly fit the stories of fascinating people, like Julia, all in one blog post. Thus, begins my interview series! Name TBD. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comment section. Although I know I can not widdle down the story of any one individual to a meager blog post, I will do my best to introduce you to Julia and others with my limited resources and amateur interview skills.

First, I should tell you that in Spanish “Js” are pronounced like “Hs”, so instead of “Jul yah”, think “Hul yah”.

Julia is one of the first people I met here in the Canary Islands. She is 22 years old, and she is a naturally likable and friendly individual. Julia hails from Madrid but came to the Canary Islands to take her driving exam. She is a very introspective person who places meaningful connections with people over all else. I admire her calm demeanor and her unmatched optimism for life.

Tell me about your home

I like Madrid for the variety of open minded and friendly people. There are many places to go, old monuments, street art, and parties. Parties before COVID were really good. In Madrid you have lots of possibilities.

Tell me about your village

My village is where my family comes from. My grandmother, grandfather, and father come from a village called Rascafria, situated in the north of Madrid at the base of the mountains. In the winter, it is really cold, and I like to sit by the fire and relax. In the summer, the climate is pleasant. I spend time with my cousins and friends. We all know each other. The village is where I learned to rock climb. I enjoy riding my bike. There are natural swimming pools, and we have a lot of stray cats. The parties in the village are famous. The 15th of August is Fiesta Patronal. We have a whole week of parties with costume competitions, car racing, and a water party where kids play with soap and water. Rascafria has lots of animals, is agricultural, and we have a wood factory. The one thing I don’t like so much is the very traditional thinking. They are not very open minded. Some people stay in the village their whole life, but others leave and go to Madrid or other places to study. I know brothers; one who went to Madrid, and one who stayed home, and they think so differently. With COVID-19 and travel restrictions, more people than usual have been visiting Rascafria because it is within their zone of travel and they have nowhere else to go. They stay in hotels and rural houses. When 3, 4, 5, people from outside Rascafria arrive, you notice.

If you could do anything without limits, what would you do?

Travel around the world all the time. I want to have many houses…not houses..homes around the world. I also want to help other people. I want to have money and resources to help them, but I will never in my life be a politician. Volunteering and traveling. I want to learn about people and know cultures. I don’t mind where I go, as long as where I go is a learning place. I like traveling alone. It’s a good thing for you, and knowing yourself in many situations. I don’t care where I go.

What are you thankful for?

I am really thankful for my parents. They push me to do lots of things, without me knowing they are good things. For example, I didn’t know what to study. Instead of arguing with me, my mom told me to calm down, take my time, make my own decision. My mom is the first one who tells me to travel. She says do it without thinking of anything else. I am what I am because of them. I’m thankful for all of my friends, all of the people in my circle because they teach me lots of things. I am really thankful for myself. I am thankful for this house. I like good people in my life, and I think I have that.

If you could eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?

Pasta. You can mix it with lots of different things. If I was a sporty person, pasta would be really nice. I am not, but I’m still going to say pasta. I’m not going to get bored with pasta. My favorite food is cuban rice. It is the best, but I would get bored of that.

How has COVID-19 changed your outlook on life?

I became more mature. In quarantine, I spent a lot of time alone. I realized many things about myself. I realized how I am. I have lots of different feelings about people. I want to think that we are a good planet. But I don’t know. I don’t really know. I think COVID changed a lot of people. People feel COVID in different ways. We do not all have the same perspective about COVID. I think COVID is a good thing to unify us. I think if we do that , it’ll go better.

Anything to add?

Now a days, I’m in a really good mood with lots of ganas de aprender.