As my time here in Madrid has gone on, I have really come to appreciate how great it has been to live with a host family. I certainly believe that this was the right living scenario for me, and it has offered me so many opportunities to learn and explore. Every day I have the opportunity to eat with my family, and then I usually end up having a conversation after dinner with my host mom about our days, or whatever else comes up, and this is so nice because it is an incredibly relaxed environment where I can really better my Spanish speaking skills. In add inion to that, it is like I always have my own tour guide, as she is always passing me suggestions on parks, restaurants, shopping areas etc.
A perfect example of her hospitality occurred yesterday when my host mom, her daughter, and I went horseback riding. The topic originally came up during my first week when she was talking about her interests and was asking about mine, and this was something we had in common. To my surprise, earlier this week she asked if I wanted to join them, and I was humbled that she remembered this was an interest of mine and then invited me to go. We ended up going out to a ranch in Navacerrada which was about an hour’s bus ride from Madrid (She even pointed out all of the cool attractions that we passed n the bus ride there, offering even more places to go if i wanted). First off, since we were at a higher elevation, it was much much cooler and that was more than welcome since we have been living with 100 degree heat during the days here in Madrid. However, the good times continued as we were first given a tour of the property and stables and introduced to each horse. We then saddled up and went on a two hour ride through the hills and trails, sometimes reaching a gallop, where we were able to see great views of the Spanish countryside. There is something about riding that is incredibly relaxing and fun, especially when mixed with the opportunity to see a new place. Again this experience showed me one of the true gems of the Spanish culture, their hospitality. People here will never fail to make you feel welcome and include you, and I will be forever grateful for that because it has allowed me the opportunity to go and do things I probably wouldn’t have done on my own.