Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Montrondo, León, the Hospital, Benavente and home again

The family house in Montrondo
MONTRONDO 28th July to 31st July

So from Galicia we drove to Montrondo in the province of León. We had had a great holiday in the Rías Bajas but were looking forward to the annual family gathering in Eladio’s village which this year was to be held on Saturday 28th July.

We arrived on Saturday just before the celebration lunch and found we were literally the last members of the family to get there. It was great to see everyone but specially my two daughters Susi and Oli whom I hadn’t seen since we left for Galicia.

This year’s event was very similar to most and the only people missing were my beloved nephew Miguel who couldn’t get away from his job in London and dearest niece Sara who is still in China, until the middle of this month when she will be back in Europe for good. Even so, we were 25 for lunch!! Lunch, as always was cold cuts (jamón, cecina, etc), potato salad, tuna pie and roast lamb. The left overs are then eaten for the following dinner and lunch. So by the time we leave we are all a bit fed up with the cold roast lamb!!!!!

The exception to the similarity was the surprise we had prepared for their parents, José Antono and Dolores, both of whom have taken early retirement from teaching this year. Marta, my oldest niece had prepared a retirement couple’s kit for them and after the lunch the fun began. They were told to sit in the middle of the dining room (really a stable!) and each niece and nephew handed them an article from the “kit” and read out a funny rhyme to describe the article. Amongst other things these included walking sticks, sun hats, a pack of cards and a crossword book. The real present was a magnificent state of the art suitcase for their retirement travels. Judging by their faces I think they were quite pleasantly surprised at what we had prepared.

Toño and Dolores during the retirement surprise

The sisters in law/las cuñadas: from left to right: Pili, Dolores, me, Adela, Yoli and Marisa.
A good time was had by all this year. The best thing about the gathering is the quality family time spent together as well as the fun moments. This year there were quite a few and always perpetrated by the one and only Andrés, one of my favourite brothers-in-law whose sense of fun is quite accentuated. On one occasion he dressed up as a woman in some old clothes found stored in a chest and on another he started a water fight with my daughters boyfriends which turned out to be a proper water battle. Just before he finally surrendered he dressed up again, this time in full waterproof clothing from head to toe. I’m afraid I was laughing too much when that happened to be physically able to take a photo.

My fun loving brother-in-law Andrés dressed as a woman!

The girl cousins, just Sarita missing.

Eladio and his Mother, Ernestina.
We stayed until Tuesday evening as the gathering was cut short this year because Eladio’s Mother who is 85 was due for a replacement hip operation in León on Thursday 2nd August but was to be admitted on Wednesday 1st August. The poor lady’s hip suffers from enormous wear and tear and thus she is very homebound and hardly mobile at all. So we are all hoping the operation will give her a new lease of life. But of course we are also worried how it will turn out and how she will be affected. She was a little nostalgic as we left and just a little dubious that she might never go back. Just before she left, one of her village cousins, Dolores, came to see her to say goodbye The picture of the 2 of them together is very touching.

Ernestina with her cousin Dolores who came to say goodbye.
The girls had gone back to Madrid on Monday and took my Father. Oli had to work and Susi has to study all month for exams in September.

LEON 31st July to 3rd August

In León we stayed at Isidro and Yoli’s house. Isidro is Eladio’s youngest brother. They have 2 lovely daughters, Laura and Alicia. Ali is our God daughter and is the youngest of the 13 cousins! We spent a lovely time with them and many a pleasant meal in their garden. Yoli is quite a cook and turns out meals in record time.

Yoli and Isidro's house - Yoli preparing the table for dinner.

Laura and Alicia with their pets, Nano and Lolita
On Wednesday afternoon, before Eladio left to spend the first night of his Mother’s stay at the hospital, we did a bit of tourism in León, something we never do as we are usually with the family. So, as if we were on a Parador route, we went to visit the Hostal San Marcos, a 12th Century Monastery which was used to lodge pilgrims on their way to Santiago. It is the most beautiful renaissance building in Spain. There we took pictures inside and out, including the statue of a pilgrim which has become something of a tourist spot in León. We had a lousy cup of tea in the cafeteria for over 5 euros each. The teapot had one tea bag in it!!! But the place was magnificent, so paying that much for the tea was well worth it.

Eladio and I by the pilgrim statue outside San Marcos.

Hostal San Marcos - Leon's Parador

The rest of our time in León was spent at the Hospital – El Hospital de León. Eladio’s Mother was operated on Thursday morning and Eladio was there to see her off. Yoli and I joined him and Pili and Andrés and Adela and Primo in the waiting room for patients’ families. Isidro came too so there were 8 of us in the family waiting room. The operation was supposed to last 2 hours but t must have lasted 3 as we were not called into the information room by the doctor until after 12 o’clock. Eladio and Pili were given the good news that the operation had been a success. However we were not to see Ernestina until she was out of the recovery room and that could take anything between 2 and 5 hours. Pili, Adela, Eladio and I hung around the hospital all day waiting and it turned out to be nearly 8 in the evening when she was brought up to her room. By then there were 11 of us waiting to receive her. It made feel so bad about my Aunty Masha who when she was operated on her broken replacement hip a couple of years because of an accident was absolutely on her own. Some have so few, some have so many. Life is not very fair!

We were bowled over to see Ernestina arrive with a glow and smile on her face looking absolutely great for someone her age who has just undergone major surgery.

So Eladio and I left the next day, certain the operation had been a success and in the knowledge that she was fully looked after by the rest of her sons and daughters. The only one who wasn’t there was José Antonio, who himself was to undergo surgery on a hernia in Madrid yesterday.

BENAVENTE – lunch at the Parador.

Eladio and I left León on Friday after visiting his Mother one more time. Eladio suggested we had lunch at the Parador in Benavente on our way home and I jumped at the chance. This was the final one on our Parador Route. We are now determined to become card holders and stay at some during the year. We have just read that there is a new in La Granja de Segovia, so perhaps that will be first on our list.

Eladio posing outside the Parador in Benavente.
So after a marvellous lunch there, we set off home to Madrid. After so much travelling and living out of a suitcase we were really looking forward to being home again with the girls and my Father and above all sleep in our own beds.

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