American in Spain

Meeting Carla

June 4, 2009
Carla and Nora

In Spain, it's very common for people to have a pueblo, a little town where they grew up or where their family originated from, where they go to spend vacation time. In August and Easter, these small towns throughout Spain come alive as the towns' sons and daughters return to maintain both their houses and friendships. The family I married into goes to a tiny town in Extremadura named Higuera de la Serena. Marga has been going there in the summers since she was born, and thus has many friends that also summer there. As we all know, over the years, some friendships weaken, but the special ones remain strong. One of Marga's best friends from the pueblo is Emi, a woman who is three days older than Marga and lives in a Madrid suburb. Last year, when Marga was four months pregnant and starting to feel like her independent life of youth was ending, she called her friend Emi.

Marga: "Hi Emi! I have some news!" Emi: "Hi Marga. I have some news, too." Marga: "I'm four months pregnant." Emi: "I'm four months pregnant." Marga [annoyed]: "Hey cut that out. I'm really pregnant!" Emi: "That's great. I'm really pregnant too!" Marga: "Really?? That's fantastic!"

Marga came out of that phone conversation happier than I had seen her in the four months of her pregnancy. She had apparently been fretting that in 2009, she'd go to the pueblo and all her friends would be going out and partying, and Marga would have to be caring for her daughter while her friends were having a good time. The idea that she wasn't the only one shackled by offspring pleased her immensely. Emi's daughter, Carla (she had that name picked out long before we picked one for Nora), was born 25 days after Nora. Last weekend, we went to Madrid to register Nora at the US Embassy, and we visited with Emi, Carla, and Mario (Carla's dad). We had been telling Nora for a couple weeks that we were going to see "your friend, Carla," as we entirely expect them to be childhood pueblo friends like their mothers. It was quite a shock to meet Carla. She is could not be more different from Nora. Carla is shorter (only 50% as old), weighs 1 kg more, has enormously wide arms and legs, a ton of hair, and has breastfed from day one.

Marga and Nora

Marga and Nora enjoy a beer in Madrid's famous Parque del Retiro.

Emi and Carla

Emi and Carla

New Dads

Dads, Erik and Mario, letting their paellas get cold.

Emi, Carla, Nora, and Erik

Carla and Nora didn't have any paella.

Carla, Nora, and Moms

Bench moms back in the park.

Wait! You're not my mother!

Wait a second! You're not my mother!

Carla, Nora, and Dads

Bench dads.

Carla and Nora

Carla and Nora meet. Notice that, by skin tone, it looks like Nora is Emi's baby and Carla is Marga's.

Needless to say, after all the baby switching, we were able to finally tell them apart and each go home with our own child. We had a wonderful time meeting Carla and Mario, and we can't wait to spend many summers with them in the future.