American in Spain

Thirty Candles

October 15, 2008
Birthday Boy with Cake

October 12th is a national holiday in Spain. It's also my birthday every year. In 2008, it fell on Sunday. In many provinces of Spain, it was unexceptable that a perfectly good day off work should fall on Sunday, so many Spaniards had Monday off. Not so in the Basque Country. So we moved my main family birthday party to Saturday the 11th. It was a blast! Abuelo brings snacks

First we stopped over to see Grandpa's house. Which resulted in some snacks of bread, meat, and wine, of course.

Marga, Betsy, Erik, and Paul

Marga, Betsy, Erik, and Paul having morning snacks and wine at Grandpa's house.

Brown dog on brown floor

I think Grandpa and Belén's fifteen-year-old dog, Tiko, was there, too, but it's hard to tell since he's the same color as the floor.

Abuelo pours more wine

¿Más vino?

Marce rules the kitchen

At the Extremadura Cultural Center, my mother-in-law is already cooking up some wascawy wabbit. I always laugh at the fact that rabbit is almost always cooked with carrots. It brings up images of Bugs sitting in a pot on the fire, munching on a carrot.


Happy Erik with his Spanish family.


Alejo, a family friend, brings some garlic anchovies out from the kitchen. Yay!

Birthday lunch

The family sits down to eat.

Bread Jamón and Lomo Shrimp Garlic-marinated Olives

Appetizers! Bread, cured pork and ham, jumbo shrimp, and garlic-marinated olives, oh my!

Anchovies with garlic

These anchovies were unbelievably good. Raw chopped garlic, parsley, and olive oil.

Thirty Candles

Cake time. Look at all those years candles.

Lighting candles

One lighter and some toothpicks and we can all light candles! One thinker in the group suggested that we all light the ones in the middle first. Sort of the opposite of painting yourself into a corner.

Extinguishing candles

Thirty candles, snuffed in an instant.

30 Spent Candles/Years

I remember every single one of those years.

Marga, Abuelo, and Erik

My wife and her grandfather. Two of my favorite people in the whole world.

Paul and Diego

Paul talks with Diego, a local children's English teacher.

Afternoon Drinks

Drinks after a long sobering walk around town.

Mondragon Plaza Panorama

As night fell, we made our way to the town hall square and saw some children dancing traditional Basque dances. Worth seeing large.


The last day of my 30th year was full of family, food, drink, and lots of love. I couldn't ask for more.