Amy B. Smoyer, PhD

Prison Food, Incarcerated Lives, Health & Social Work

Castilla y Leon

Edie's New Shorts
I am still substituting as a Middle School English teacher at my kids' school, so that explains why I haven't made it back to my regular blogging schedule.  I know you miss me, so I thought I'd throw you this random, barely prison-related post.

We spend this last long weekend (Thank you, Workers of the World!) in central Spain, Madrid and Castilla y Leon to be exact.  Lovely.  This is the Espana that you read about in 7th grade Spanish.  The walled cities, towering castles, rolling hills, palaces covered in tapestries, knights in shining armor - all that and more.  So, here are some chatty highlights and anecdotes to pass the time...

  • We started in the grand city of Madrid.  While Jaime & Javier watched Real Madrid win, yet again, Edith and I went shopping.  Talk about gender conformity!  I bought Edie a pair of shorts (see above) at Top Shop that cost 50 Euros. That's $68 back in the old US of A. Downloading a picture of the shorts from the Internet today, I learned that they are called "MOTO Crochet Hotpants."  Look for the headline at CNN.com:  "Middle-aged Mom Seduced by Daughter's Charm."  
  • Segovia, exquisite.  I could have stayed there all weekend.  It was here that young Isabel, upon learning of her brother's death, marched from her fortress to the Plaza Mayor and claimed her throne.  What a scene that must have been.  The fortress' moat, alone, is worth the visit.  Jaime and I left the kids at the hotel and went out to celebrate our anniversary with a dinner of red wine and cochinillo, a little baby pig that has been only breastfed.  Look for the headline on CNN.com: "Semi-vegetarian La Leche Mom Eats One of Her Own."  
  • Avila.  Nice town, but visit marred by non-stop quarreling with teenage daughter who claimed to be too tired to do anything but text.  The next day, during our drive home, she became very sick.  Turns out, she wasn't being surly after all, she actually had a bad stomach flu.  Look for the headline on CNN.com: "Study Finds Throwing Up Out The Window of A Moving Car Is Not Effective."  Poor Edie. Poor Jaime.
  • Salamanca, who knew?  Not sure why I never really wanted to visit this city.  Misguided.  Interesting bit of Women's History: women were first admitted to the University of Salamanca in 1850.  Two years after the Women's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY.  Look for the headline on CNN.com:  "Five Hours Not Enough to See Salamanca, Spain."
At the end of our last full day, before Edie started throwing up, we left Salamanca and drove for about 90 minutes to a Casa Rural, a country hotel, in a small Castillian town.  It was nearly 10:30pm when we got on the road and quickly the GPS guided us to a small, unlit highway that snaked north.  It was dark in the very dark way that country roads are.  It was in the midst of this darkness that we realized that we were very low on gas.  So we kept driving, with bated breath, hoping that the Goddess of Gasoline would be kind to us.

As we drove on, the kids sang and played in the back seat, high on dessert's sugar.  But their voices sounded eerie to me as we drove into the darkness with no gas.  We drove through a small village with several stray dogs sleeping in the streets. We passed a group of young people having a tailgate party on the side of the road and their laughter seemed menacing in the night air.  When Javier asked if this was going to be one of those GPS driven trips that ends badly, I realized that we were all feeling a bit nervous.

And then the signs began to appear for the prison.  "Centro Penitenciario, 9 km."  And then "Centro Penitenciario, 5 km" and "Centro Penitenciario, 2 km." And then, there it was, a huge modern fortress on the side of the road, filled with people.  Watch tower lit up against the sky, in case one of them should try to run.  Completely silent.  Just to remind me in case I had forgotten.