Interview by Nancy Todd
Kaley moved from Indiana to big city Madrid, taught English, met a man, put on her white dress and walked down the aisle. Her blog is full of tips about the good life in Madrid and teaching English in Spain. The Scoopettes love a fun wedding story and hers is a delight.
I prefer small, no doubt about it. I can’t deny that living in Madrid has its perks: more access to things (food especially) and a more central location, but I like small-town life more. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to live in a remote village anytime soon. But I enjoy being able to meet people in less than 10 minutes, in walking everywhere, and the feel of a smaller town in general. It might have something to do with the fact that, as John Mellencamp sings, “I was born in a small town.”
2. What were the most difficult parts to get used to when you moved to Spain? Any advice for our readers?
I first came to Spain in 2008, to study abroad in Toledo. I struggled with adjusting to the eating times, but after a while it became like second nature. I also wasn’t ready for the amount of social faux pas I was about to commit. I had no idea to whom I should give dos besos, (two kisses) how to greet someone when entering a shop, the right way to use my knife and fork, and obviously some more serious ones. One time I asked my now husband, Mario, a question and ended it with “… ¿o qué?” which to me was a polite way of letting him fill in the blank, so to speak. He informed me that this sort of question could easy be perceived as rude if I said it to someone who didn’t know my good intentions. Oops!
For anyone who wants to move to Spain, especially from the US or England, I would say just be ready to adapt to their social cues. What you think is rude may not be. And what you think is perfectly acceptable may be seen as very rude. You can’t go to the grocery store (Midwestern speak for supermarket) in your sweatpants in Salamanca without the whole place staring at you. (Though I have heard that in the beach towns this is more than acceptable.) You have to say hello when entering a shop or the gym locker room. Watch what the people around you do and follow suit!
3. Loved all your posts about your wedding! What was special/different about being married in Spain? Did you also have a ceremony in Indiana?
Getting married in Spain was special because it was about more than uniting two people — it was uniting two cultures, two families, two languages, two countries. It was magical too, for a girl from Indiana. We got married in a church built in the 11th century, way before my country even existed. We had a lavish banquet and later a dance party that lasted hours! It’s not the norm in Indiana, but it was the best day of my life. I cannot imagine it having gone better. Plus, in Spain, you don’t usually plan as much yourself, which means less freedom in a way, but I loved it. I didn’t worry about a thing besides my dress, hair, and makeup. Another thing that is great here in Spain is that tourists and passers-by stop and watch you as you get out of the car, go into the church, etc. You feel like a celebrity!
We are planning on having a ceremony in Indiana this summer or fall. I am excited to share our love with our family there.
4. Where are the most fav places you have traveled to in Spain?
Good question. I really enjoyed our trip to San Sebastián. The weather was just perfect, and as you are well aware, it is a picture-perfect town. Also: great food! We hiked up Monte Urgull for a wonderful view.
I also really enjoyed Lago de Sanabria, located in the Zamora province. It’s obviously not very well known, but it’s highly underrated. There’s a lot of hiking and a great place to swim.
5. How do you and your husband spend the perfect Sunday in Madrid?
Mm, any perfect Sunday needs to start out with a good breakfast, and for me that is a tostada con tomate and a café con leche. Mario will take the tostada but exchange the coffee for an English breakfast tea. After breakfast, we’d take a stroll along the Madrid Río, a nice little park along the Manzanares River. After sufficient exercise, we might stop by the Matadero for a cultural exposition or film.
For lunch, we’d stop by La Madreña, a great little Asturian restaurant in our barrio. We’d choose their specialty, carne a la piedra. To wash it down, we’d choose Pesquera (Ribera del Duero).
Then we’d hit up a café for coffee and dessert, perhaps El Azul de Fúcar, a quaint little coffeeshop near Atocha Train Station which fellow Spain blogger, Cassandra, introduced me to and I love. We’d have some dessert and coffee (for me) or herbal tea (for him).
During a perfect day, we’d also watch Mario’s favorite team, Real Madrid, play a match at Santiago Bernabeu. After a win, we’d head home to our barrio for some cheap, delicious tapas.
Kaley started this blog as a way to keep up with her family in Indiana, when she moved to Salamanca, Spain in 2009. She wrote for the 2010–2011 school year when Kaley was working as an English teacher in Zamora, Spain, regaling readers with humorous anecdotes from her 200+ high school students studying English. You can find her delightful reads at Kaley…& Más.