Everyone knows you, and you know everyone. A horse grazes in the yard, and on weekends everyone goes to the same bar or to the mountains. Life in the countryside, be it Tambov or Spanish, is a specific thing. Columnist of Eva. Ru Elizaveta Okulova, who made a global move, tells what everyone who decides to run away from the metropolis to the village will have to face.
Born in Moscow and having lived almost all my life here and in other large cities, I suddenly decided for everyone to restore historical justice and return to the place where my grandparents left - to the village. But, however, the village chose the Spanish, in the mountains of the Basque Country. It happened a year ago.
I arrived exactly at Halloween, funny people in costumes walked the streets, my boyfriend immediately took me to meet friends, they spoke Spanish quickly, so quickly that I did not understand anything and answered in English, which they did not understand. It was fun, drunk, new. The weather for the end of October was wonderful: I was not cold at all in a leather jacket and boots on my bare feet.
In the morning we ate a tortilla for breakfast on the terrace overlooking the mountains (there are almost everywhere mountain views), and I tried to realize the scale of the change. A greenhouse Moscow girl came to a village of 1,800 inhabitants with three main streets, six bars, one restaurant and one gas station. Everything was strange and new: from the language to seemingly insignificant details.
For the first time, I faced the realities of the village after about two weeks of living. My friend had a birthday and I decided to make him a cheesecake. To do this, I went to the only supermarket in the village, bought cream, Philadelphia cheese, cookies and other ingredients and honestly admitted at the only checkout that I was making cheesecake (in the Spanish version of “tarta de queso”) for the first time.
The owner of the store immediately clarified what I had for the recipe, corrected it, in the end she advised me to buy more cream and less cheese, and wrote her mother's recipe on a piece of paper by hand (I have been carefully keeping this piece of paper for a year now). The whole queue took part in the discussion of the recipe, while no one rushed or rushed anyone, everyone understood the importance of the moment: a person makes a cheesecake for the first time! I walked home with grocery bags and at least five conflicting recipes.
But the wonders of local shops were just beginning to open up to me. Once I came to my favorite shop for bread and saw fresh spinach. But I had exactly money for bread, but I didn't have money for spinach. "I'll buy tomorrow!" - I said to the owner. "Stop it!" - answered the owner, put me spinach, bread and a cake as a gift: "You will bring it in tomorrow."
“Tomorrow you will bring it in” I heard in the butcher's shop, when I forgot my wallet, and in the bread shop, and in the shop with sweets. As I found out later, many of this opportunity is abused, and they are put on a "black list": no purchases on credit. The reputation in the village must be protected from a young age!
At the same time, the quality of the products is the same that you don't even suspect in the city. To find normal meat in Moscow, you have to dance with a tambourine, go somewhere to the market in Teply Stan. And then I came to a butcher's shop - and here it is, real meat. Here it is, a chicken, but I forgot! Cooked broth - and enjoy, nothing else is needed. True, to get a tasty chicken, sometimes you have to wait 20 minutes - no one is in a hurry, each client is served slowly, they have time to talk to each, find out how the sister / brother, wife / husband are there, whether mold has appeared in the apartment again and what plans for the holiday.
At first, I walked the streets quite carelessly, not thinking about the fact that the locals have TV and gossip for entertainment. And while I take my child to school, buy spinach and go to the bar, they collect information about me. She gradually integrates into the overall picture, schemes and connections are drawn: friends, groom, family. And now the postman happily shouts to me on the street: "Okulova, I have a package for you!"
"Be back soon!" - I answer. And I come, we chat about the weather and how I managed to exchange Moscow for a Basque village (an eternal theme), and then I go home with my package.
Somehow I needed to send a letter to Russia. I filled out all the papers, took out insurance, paid and went home. An hour later, the same postman came to me (he is also the only one with us). He counted incorrectly, he says, in the wrong form, but I changed everything myself. And he brought me two and a half euros, for which he "cheated" me. That is, in my life I would not have found out that in some wrong form I paid something and overpaid the unfortunate two euros, but he still came and returned them to me. At that moment, I almost burst into tears.
In the village, no matter what you do, you are constantly in sight: this is both a plus and a minus. On the one hand, there can be no question of any privacy and personal life. Here you are like a Hollywood star: the public's close attention is guaranteed. And even if you put on three pairs of sunglasses and five baseball caps, it won't help. You will be identified, analyzed and probably judged a little.
On the other hand, this aquarium effect guarantees your safety: you are always under supervision, and at the same time your husband, children and all suspicious persons. In our entire village there is one suspicious person with a criminal past, they are watching him there day and night, it seems to me that the poor already cannot eat calmly.
Or, for example, a husband or boyfriend goes out for a drink with someone, or if they see them with a young lady, they will immediately report back. Well, you shouldn't worry about children: they are always under supervision, you can safely leave them to play on the playground and run to the store. And this, I must say, is very convenient.
It is also very convenient that after the birth of a child, parents do not drop out of social life. Because going to bars here is practically a family activity. On Saturday and Friday (on Friday we give a gift of pintxos with every glass of beer or wine), you can see a one-year-old baby sitting at the bar surrounded by his parents.
On the street, a couple of babies will sleep in a stroller, and older children will run around. Since it is customary here to move from bar to bar, everyone walks with the children (in strollers, on scooters, bicycles and just on foot), this does not bother anyone. The most popular bar is located in the square next to the playground. The perfect combination: mom - wine, baby - swing.
But apart from Friday and Saturday, and also Sunday morning, when everyone goes out to drink (again) vermouth and eat squid, there is practically no life in the village. You can go to the mountains, or to other mountains, or to third mountains, you can walk to the waterfall or to the barbecue area. And that's all. An extrovert's nightmare, in general.
For the most part, here you are left to yourself, which is quite funny, because it gives you the opportunity to get to know yourself, learn a lot about yourself - and all this outside the frantic rhythms of the big city, which drown out true desires and aspirations. Many wonderful discoveries await every citizen who has moved to the village. It is likely that one of the discoveries will be the fact that you will never be able to live in the village. And the point. But it's still worth it.
I also have horses grazing under my window - white and bay. We throw carrots to them from the balcony. They have recently had a foal, a real little foal!
The Spanish province differs from the Russian education system. How they teach there, what, do they ask homework and what they feed, our columnist Elizaveta Okulova told. And of course, what kind of Spain it would have been if we hadn't started talking about real men!