Yesterday, I visited Paradise. Paradise is as perfect as it sounds….except I don’t live there. I had no clue I was going to Paradise and I only had my iPhone so bear with me for my low-quality photos. It was actually interesting to go to Paradise blindly because I had no expectations and the surprise of its beauty was like Christmas morning! If you have been searching for Paradise your whole life then I will tell you what it is like.
In Galicia, Spain on May 17th there is a holiday called Galician Literature Day in which the Galician language and its literature are celebrated. Kids and parents have the day off which meant outdoor picnics and beach time. The Andujar family (which I will now include myself as during my time here) played outside all day and had a picnic in the backyard. We consumed burgers, sausage, coleslaw, beer, and coke. I felt right at home. Then we went to Jesus’s parent’s home. They have had that home since the 60s and have been expanding the house and its land since then. In front of the house is a small plot of land, which is already impressive and little did I know it was only the beginning.
Let me walk you through Paradise
Palm trees, large tropical leaves, a creek, and the greenest grass are illuminated through the slowly setting sun. The air smells sweet. Trees that grow kiwis, lemons, and oranges happily soak up the sunshine. We walk around the house. To the side of the house is the summer dining room. This room is made of large glass walls and inside sit antique and beautiful décor. Covering the glass walls is luscious, ivy, wrapping its way around to the back of the house. The house is Spanish style pink with white accents. It sits upon a hill. The hill is so green and glides down towards trees, a tennis court to the left, a large pool to the right, and a beach house that is also pink and white in front. The pool is beautiful. It has large, white walls and red trim with Spanish style seating surrounding it. There are 2 large planters with tropical leaves and a light pink slide that has been bleached by Spanish sunshine. These details are beautiful but the wow factor is standing on top of the hill where the casa resides. Directly in front of us, only slightly off in the distance, is the ocean. Sailboats happily bob around on the calm sea while fisherman and contraptions to catch mussels are at work. Past the beach you see mountains, cliffs, villages, and more beaches. It is quite a view.
The kids, Maria, and I make our way to the beach. We walk down the hill, reaching concrete steps lined with tropical orange flowers, open a gate and cross a skinny dirt road that leads to a few other houses. This road is like a community driveway, Maria explains, and is required to be there so it cuts through the property. The road is so skinny and hidden, though, that it’s not a problem. Across the dirt road we open another gate that is lined with the orange flowers. We enter another section of their personal land that is filled with gardenias and a garden, open a third gate and walk down large, concrete steps steps winding downwards that are partially covered with plants and flowers, turn a corner to open another timeworn fence and below us is the beach.
We walk down the steps onto the cold sand and the kids start stripping their shoes and shirts and run towards the water. It is magnificent. There is only one group of young adults on the beach who had previously been enjoying their day in the sun on a small boat. Maria and I chat about Galicia. She says there’s a saying here about how the coast looks like paradise but, “the water and the air need to be 10 degrees warmer.” Which is so true. The high that day, in the middle of May, was 63 which is simply too cold for a late spring month. While the sun is strong here and can beat a sunburn into your skin without breaking 60 degrees Fahrenheit, that Galician wind is still freezing. It feels like a fan blowing over an ice bucket. Before noon and after 6 p.m. people are wearing coats and boots. Not surprisingly, the blue ocean water is freezing cold like a pool in December. The sand is light, the water is clear, the rocks are shiny brown with green moss, and the boats are white. It looks like heaven but Maria says, “I just wish it were a bit warmer, but it’s not Cuba!” I laugh and say, “I agree. I like the warmth. But it is truly beautiful and refreshing!”
Next to Jesus’s parent’s home is another house sitting proudly above the rocks. It flies an American flag right on the edge above the beach. I laugh and note to Maria that flying the flag is normal in the states and it’s so typical that an American would do that in Spain. She explained to me that it is a common point of reference for many people here. They say, “I’ll be at the beach where the American flag is.” I found that to be hilarious. Typical Americans.
We walk across rocks (my feet still hurt a little because they are not tough) and turn a corner to reach another beach that is more average looking compared to the previous exotic beach which is tucked away from civilians, dripping with ivy that lingers across stone steps down large hills. The more average beach, yet still breathtakingly beautiful, is filled with old couples and young families. What a wonderful sunny day for a holiday! A sunny day in rainy, chilly Galicia is a blessing so everyone was thankful to have such a warm holiday on their day off.
We walk back to the house. The kids play while the adults clean the pool area for a few hours. It’s that time of year where weed pulling and pool cleaning begins! The kids are so excited about the entire ordeal. First, the adults work together to take the tarp off the pool. Then the tarp is spread across the hill so the kids can use it as a slip and slide. This is one of the most exciting days of the year for the kids.
I watch the kids play on the slip and slide and then we play other games. We play 21 with an inflatable ball on the tennis court. We play on the swings. We kick a soccer ball around. We throw a football, tackle, kick, and chase. Then the kids go to the neighbors house to pick kiwis so I explore the grounds alone.
I walk to the front yard to pick some lemons and come across a rose tree that had perfectly dropped its pink petals around it in a pretty circle. I also spot purple flowers next to a large palm tree, which is magnificent. Then I walk to the bottom of the hill to listen to ocean waves while watching boats bob up and down.
In the summer, the kids and their cousins stay at this house all of the time, swimming in the beautiful pool and playing on the beach and tennis court. The adults enjoy the mini-bar where Estrella Galicia is on tap all summer round. That day I visited, everyone seemed so happy and relaxed even when they were working hard on the pool tarp and picking weeds. Leaving the place was difficult because I felt so free there. I could walk around for hours. It reminded me of when I had land to explore on when I was a kid living in the country. Having land with beautiful nature is so refreshing compared to living in a suburb or city. However, by the time we left around 8:00 pm the sun was starting to hide behind the very tall trees and I began to get a chill. I was sunburnt and cold and wanted to go to bed already. The kids didn’t want to leave but they did exhaust themselves. We left and the family said, “Don’t worry. We will be back!”