You are about to discover one of my favorite Spanish people. Not only has Josefina become my mama while I have been here, but she also is one of the best examples of a Spanish citizen that lives in Segovia. Her daily life shows just how the elderly lives here. She is so full of energy though that if you had the chance to meet her, you would not be able to tell her exact age.
She is loving, caring, and hard working and has a family that loves her very much. She has not really become “modernized” in the way of technology. She does not have a cell phone and she can remember everybody’s cell phone numbers. She keeps little post-it-notes around the house as a way to remind her instead of tracking it in an ipad.
I am so excited to share a little bit about the woman who has defiantly made this experience what it is. Without her I would not have been able to live and experience the meaning of what it means to be a Segovian. Her food, stories and house has all become so much a part of this experience that it will be hard for me to leave. I hope you enjoy!
I interviewed my mama Josefina. She is a 75 year old lady who had worked with her hands all her life. She has four kids and raised them on her own ever since they were young. She also now has four grandchildren, two of which live with their parents and two which are off on their own. She has lived in her same house now for fifty years and every where she grocery shops she has known the owners for quite some time now. I choose her for this interview, because over these past two and a half months I have been living with her she has really opened my eyes to what it means to be a Spanish citizen.
What is your full name?
Where do you live? What is your house like?
She lives about five minutes from the main center, the Aqueduct in reality. She says that the location of her house is wonderful, because it is far enough away from the center so she does not have to deal with all the commotion from there, but it is close enough that it is not a difficult walk to make every day.
Since I have already wrote about her house in a prior note, I asked her instead to describe her favorite room in her house. Her favorite room and the room she spends all of her time in is her sewing room. She has told me many times that this is her life. Many people will work outside their homes, they live to work or drive or things like this, but she lives to sew.
This room has a large table in the center, it reminds me of a kitchen table put a little higher off the ground so that she does not have to bend over or sit down while she is sewing. It also includes many shelves full of fabric, thread, buttons and the typical sewing needs. She also has a sewing machine. Now if you have ever seen one before, this is not very similar. Her sewing machine is old fashioned and it was built into the counter in which it sits. It is a bronze color and the wheel has to be turned by hand. She does not use this very often; she would rather do everything by hand.
This room also has a window, which allows light in the room. She has a light in there, but she would rather the natural light of the sun. She has also decorated it with pictures of her family and drawings done by her two little grandchildren.
What is your family like?
She has four children; they are all grown up now and on their own. The oldest, Pedro works in Madrid where he lives now with his own family. He has two kids, Marcos and Irene. These are the two I interviewed for the last Note. Then there’s Marihosa, she lives right up the street from Josefina with her husband. Mari is over about two times a week and she is so wonderful. She takes care of her mom and makes sure she never gets lonely.
These are the only two that I have met since I have been here. They are both wonderful and have treated me as if I was a part of their family. They are a typical family; they like to talk about the news, politics, sports and things like that. They are very loving and close.
How do you get around?
She walks everywhere. Could you imagine your grandma walking up and down hills to get to the grocery store and then carrying them back to the house? Well, she does just that. Even though she is 75 years old, if you met her you could never tell.
Now when I say she walks everywhere that does not include long trips. For example if she is going to the doctors about ten miles or more away she will ride in a taxi. She does not drive; she does not even have her license to drive.
These two ways though, are her main modes of getting around the city and to the places she needs to go.
What types of clothing do you like to wear?
She wears pants and long sleeved sweaters all the time. Her pants range from jeans to nice brown, grey or black slacks. She will never wear sweatpants other than to sleep in. She is a lady who has a wonderful style.
Her favorite piece of clothing to wear is her red jacket. She can only wear this on special occasions because it is too fancy just to wear outside. This jacket reminds me of a jacket you would see a bullfighter wearing. The brilliant, shiny red color, the small details sewed into the sleeves of the jacket and the button halfway up located in the middle to help keep its’ form.
What do you like to do in your free time?
When I asked her this question she just laughed and shook her head at me. She says she never has free time. She does the laundry just about every day, she cooks two meals a day, cleans and once all of that is finished she goes to sew.
I would say sewing is her favorite thing to do when everything else is finished. She has created so many beautiful wedding dresses, ball gowns, jackets, pants, just about everything you could think of she has made.
Another thing she likes to do, after dinner she will sit and read her book. That could be considered free time, but to her she never has free time. She is a very busy lady who cannot sit still.
What language do you speak and how do you say hello?
Spanish and Hola.
Do you have pets?
No, she does not have any pets. She does not like the idea of having animals in her house. She says they would just mess it up and she does not want to have to deal with them or take care of them. Her house is too precious to her to have anything come and destroy it.
Have you traveled? Where have you traveled?
Yes, she has traveled. She used to work in Paris and lived there with a family about thirty years ago. She loves this city and advises every one she meets to visit here. It was her home away from home and she has nothing bad to say about it.
When she does not have students like me living with her, her and her daughter will travel a little bit too. She has visited many of the cities in Spain on these trips.
What do you do for work?
Now she is too old for an actual job. Instead, she opens her home to American students who are studying abroad, like me. The programs pay her for the use of her house along with providing money for food and other necessary things that these students might need.
What would you like to say to the students in the United States?
She told me that everyone needs to know the value of education. Education is very important in life and to never take it for granted. She said to find something you enjoy learning about and to stick with that, because there are many people who never get the chance to receive an education.
Another thing she said was that the best way to spend your money is to travel. She said there are many people to buy jewelry or nice clothing, but all those things can be stolen or worn out. Traveling on the other hand, no one can steal the memories or sights or lessons learned from the experience.
Josefina has been my mama for about two and a half months now and the impact and stories she has given me will remain for the rest of my life. I hope this too will help you learn a little bit about the pleasures I have had living in her house with her.