I had just turned 25 years old and had recently broken up with my fiancé when I decided I needed a change. My brother had been living in Spain for a couple of years, and I figured that moving to another continent would qualify as a change.
Not 100% Sure
I wasn’t really sure about moving to Spain. After all, I would be moving out of my mom’s house only to move in with my baby brother. Where I come from, you usually stay in the parental home until you get married, so my mom was not exactly thrilled with my decision.
I arrived in Spain in the year 2000, and the only person I knew there was my baby brother. We did not know to get along all the time, so the initial idea was to go for a month and see how that worked out.
My New Family
Right after my arrival, my brother introduced me to the sister of one of his friends. Vanesa was a couple of years older than me, half Spanish and half English, and very smart and outgoing. We connected immediately!
Little did I know that Vanesa had a small circle of friends: Maria Jose, Mary Carmen, and Josefa (aka, Pepi). These four friends had known each other for years and often got together and kept tabs on one another’s life—a really tight circle.
To my surprise, las ninas (the girls) welcomed me to their group and pretty much adopted me from the beginning. Yes, I was very lucky to find the girls and the safety and security they made me feel. We would communicate through messages on a daily basis and knew what was going on in each one’s life. If I needed help (or anyone of us, for that matter), the closest one would make her way and get me from work if I was sick or not feeling well because I was the only one without a car.
I was introduced to all of their family members and would often be included in some family get-togethers. I spent many Christmases at Vanesa’s home and shared her family’s food (I loved and still love Vanesa’s mom as a mother ).
We would often go on small trips around the region, and we especially loved going to Punta Paloma Beach for the day. Granada, Puerto Banus, Fuengirola, Mijas, and Olvera were also visited frequently.
We lived in Marbella, which is a small and beautiful town between Puerto Banus and Fuengirola. We would meet on the weekends for tea, lunch, or dinner or to go to the pubs.
One of my fondest memories is going to the beach after work and just eating in one of the chiringuitos or bringing some bocatas and enjoying the view. The beach was a very big part of our lives, and we spent countless days at the beach and loved having bonfires during on summer nights.
I still communicate with the girls through WhatsApp every day, and we keep tabs on one another. I love my girls, and while I have not been able to go back to Spain, we do get together if they come to the US.
Needless to say, they have been part of my family for the last 19 years, and I love them to death!
A few weeks ago, I found the Sand Jewel Necklace by Dune Jewelry. Dune’s handcrafted sand jewelry encases grains from a special beach, golf course, ballpark, or trail to create a one-of-a-kind accessory. You can send them a capsule of your own sand or choose from their collection of over 1,500 beaches worldwide. Their pieces are beautiful, and to my surprise, they actually have Fuengirola sand!
Made in Boston, Massachusetts, they offer personalized necklaces with your choice of sand inside. The sterling, 2 cm round bezel with 2 mm border and 2.5 mm round “island” at the bottom middle is minimalistic, beautiful, and a great way to carry around a small piece of an important place right next to your heart.
The adjustable sterling silver chain with jump rings at 16”, 18”, and 20” allows you to change the length, which is great if you decide to layer it with other pieces. They also offer a petite round or diamond setting.
I had no idea something like this existed. While I carry all my memories with me, I love having a tangible memento from those years and my sisters from another country.
Las quiero por siempre ninas!