My family has always been one that enjoys traveling, however, in all of the vacations we have taken, our trip to Spain is the most interesting adventure. The vacation started, not on July 6th, but in January, when my father started searching for long-lost family located in Northwestern Spain. After endless searching, his friend put him in contact with a member of the Galicia Parliament, who suggested sending a letter to the editor to the newspaper in the area. My father therefore sent in a letter asking for help to find his family. Little did we know the letter would be published and among the countless replies, was an email containing the phone number of my dad's cousin, Mari Carmen. Wanting to make sure that she was the legitimate cousin, my parents called Mari Carmen and to our excitement, she was.
â–º Quarter Finalist 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
Upon our arrival in Madrid, we rented a car and drove towards, Santiago de Compostela. After 5 hours, we settled into our hotel, Moure, and left to meet these cousins. On the first night, we walked around sightseeing Santiago. On the second day we visited the cathedral and the university in Santiago. We also visited Mari Carmen’s parents in the village of La A Baña. While we were in A Baña, we were taken to the local church. We were told that my father’s great grandfather was buried in the cemetery on the church grounds. Thinking that this would be a great opportunity, we followed the cousins around the church to the cemetery and were presented with a patch of grass; no tombstone, nor a marker, just a patch of grass, and no, our family wasn’t fooling us, this was the actual grave of my great grandfather. We thus took a picture and left the cemetery before any other odd things could happen. On the second day in Galicia, we visited various landmarks along the coast, one of which included, “Finisterre” meaning “End of Earth”. The phrase refers to early beliefs that the coast of Spain was the westernmost point of the world. From the moment we arrived in Galicia, we were greeted with open arms and treated with kindness, from people who were at first, just strangers. Leaving the family in Galicia was bittersweet for us. We were grateful to have been able to meet our loving family, but we didn’t want to leave them. We knew though, that we had to leave Galicia to go to the province Asturias, also in northern Spain where my mother’s family awaited us.
Arriving in Asturias, we met my grandmother’s first cousin, Esther. We visited Esther’s house, in the village of Peñella. This house belonged to my great-great grandparents and was the house in which my great grandpa, his siblings, Esther and her siblings were all born. This house was a family heirloom and a piece of history. Being a person who lives in a city that is only 50 years old, it felt unreal being in a house that was probably 150 years old and was home to three generations of family. After Asturias, we spent a week in Madrid and Seville, although we didn’t have family in the area. While it was nice finally being on our own, we didn’t regret having met such wonderful people, and if there’s one thing I learned from this vacation, it’s that family is vital to shaping oneself. Even though I am constantly surrounded by immediate family in my everyday life, it’s comforting to know that on the other side of the world, I have extended family who loves me just the same.