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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

All the Way From Spain

When Seth was in the 11th grade, his family hosted an exchange student from Spain.  Quique (pronounced kee-kay) spent the year here and completely immersed himself in the Bayham family and all things south Louisiana and American.  He ate the food, he learned to fluently speak our language, he played on the football and baseball teams, he went to school, he went fishing and hunting and 3-wheeler riding.  He went back to Spain at the end of that year with stories to tell.  Lots and lots of stories.  And, over the years, I've heard the stories, too.

When Seth graduated high school the following year, he went to Spain for two weeks and stayed with Quique and his family.  This picture was taken at the airport in Barcelona on that trip.
They're all "grown up" now with real jobs and families.  Quique's job requires him to travel to the States sometimes.  I met him in 2004 when he came for a visit.  It was his first time back to south Louisiana since that year in 11th grade.  Last fall he was scheduled to travel to Atlanta for his job, and he had planned to then fly out here and stay for a few days.  That trip was postponed indefinitely at the last minute.  Last week he finally made that business trip to Atlanta and then he flew to Louisiana when he was done.

We spent a lot of time talking about our families and catching up on life and where we've been these last 25 years (because it's been 25 years since their 11th grade year!).  They told the same stories over again from his stay here.  The kids and I had lots of questions about his life in Spain and the culture there.  He told Mason stories about hunting in the Mediterranean for octopus (that was in his "younger" years).  Mason was absolutely fascinated with that and kept asking him about it over and over again.  And then somehow the subject of basketball came up, and they were challenged to a little one-on-one.  I asked Quique who won, and he said it was a tie.  Mason later told me that Quique won, and he was really good!

We asked Quique what we wanted to do while he was here.  At one point he talked about how life-changing his experience was as a foreign exchange student.  He said it impacted the rest of his life for the better.  He was mostly interested in spending time with the people he'd grown so close to and visiting some of the old "haunts."  So that's what we did.

We took him back to False River Academy, the high school he and Seth attended.  Seth explained to the office staff who they were, and we were allowed to walk around the campus.  They both said it had changed a lot and, yet, not changed at all.  The buildings are different colors, and there is a cafeteria now.  The gym is still the same.  And would you believe they even saw their old Chemistry teacher?  Yes, she's still there, still teaching.  

After our "tour," we went to eat lunch.  Quique was hoping to get a burger at his favorite little dive restaurant, but it burned down years ago and was never rebuilt.  So we had to improvise a little bit.  I don't even know why, but Seth ordered alligator.  I mean, of all the appetizers on the menu, alligator.  But everyone ate it.  Kind of.  Well, not everyone.
This is the only picture yours truly made it into during Quique's time here.  You see, about six hours after this was taken, I was at urgent care with Ellie girl, and she was diagnosed with the flu.  Yes.  The flu.  So she and I missed out on the rest of the weekend and Quique's visit.  I was so bummed.  (I mean, do you even REMEMBER what my week had been like up until that point?  And let me just tell you.  It didn't even end with Ellie getting the flu.  We landed in the ER with Hannah Kate on Sunday morning!  Yes, indeed.  Fun times.  But that's another story for another day.)
So Ellie and I hunkered down at home the rest of the weekend.  I told Seth to take lots of pictures of their new adventures.  From what I can tell, they went fishing, rode four wheelers and played in the swamp. 

Oh.  And videos.  Old home videos.  On VHS (if you don't know what that is, google it).  And my mother-in-law is so awesome that she still has an old VCR!  We didn't know if it even still worked, but guess what?!?  It did!

I saw part of one video on Friday afternoon (I missed the rest).  And it was. hilarious.  The kids, y'all, they just died!  I mean, imagine watching old videos of your dad when he was in 11th grade, when he thought he was indeed hot stuff!  But the best part was Barry and Ashley were engaged the Christmas that Quique was here so that was caught on camera, too.  I truly should've taken a picture of Abbie's reaction!  She could hardly watch!  It was priceless.  As I was watching that video, I couldn't help but think that there are some things that haven't changed a bit during these last 25 years.

We also had the opportunity to FaceTime with Quique's wife and children on Friday afternoon.  That was really cool, too!  He has four children, and one of his daughters looks just like Ellie!  Yes!  I am not even kidding!  You just wouldn't even believe it if you saw them together.  They both have blonde hair and all!  (Yes, I just always assumed that everyone in Spain had dark hair!  But that's not the case!)

I wish we would've gotten a picture of all of us together at the beginning of Quique's visit, but we didn't.  Of course, Ellie and I missed out on this one.
Quique brought the children each a mug from Spain.  The girls' mugs have a rendering of the Sagrada Familia on them.  Construction for the cathedral began in 1882 (it's located in Barcelona).  Here we are, 135 years later, and it's only 70% finished!  Yes!  The anticipated completion date is 2026!  Quique was telling us all about it on Thursday.  So while my little patient was laid out on Saturday, I spent my time researching Spain and the Sagrada Familia.  Y'all.  It's an architectural and engineering masterpiece!  The details are so. intricate.  It's breathtaking just reading about it and learning about the symbolism woven all throughout the design.  I can only imagine what it's like to be there in person!  Seriously.  Go read about it here or here.  Anyway, aren't these mugs so cute with the little spoons tucked into the handles?!
So now I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to Spain and the Sagrada Familia.  I mean, we have to go!  We just have to!

Quique's visit had a profound effect on my children, especially Mason.  He has told me more than once since Sunday that he wishes Quique was still here.
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