At some point during my sister’s visit we simply had to carve out time to go back to Campello, where we had lived for 4 months as teenagers with our parents. Neither of us had been back to the town since living there 33 years ago and it was bound to have changed a lot. We wanted to experience it together. So we set off for Alicante, which is about a 5 hour drive from where we currently live in Marbella but only 20 minutes from the little town of Campello. Thankfully Spanish roads are quite nice and we didn’t even have to pay out the nose in tolls. Our milk-truck like rental car fit the 5 of us well enough so we hit the road, headed northeast.
Margaret and I didn’t remember much about Alicante since we didn’t spend much time there as teens, but we had a few pictures from Margaret’s scrapbook to remind us of what we had done.
I didn’t remember my impressions of Alicante from when I was 13 but I found it to be a charming city this time around. We loved walking the pedestrian-only areas (there were a lot of them) and bumping into the view of the Santa Barbara castle every time we turned around. Stay tuned for more information on Alicante – we had a very nice few days there and it deserves a blog post all it’s own.
We set off for Campello in search of our old house. We figured it wouldn’t be too hard to find because it was right on the street in front of the ocean, across from the promenade. We even remembered our address and had some landmarks to guide us thanks to Margaret’s photo book.
On our way to our old house in Campello we walked down the street and compared the stores to the pictures we had in Margaret’s scrapbook. We stumbled across a bakery near our house and we were so excited that it was the same one from 1983! That bakery was a prominent feature in our daily life in Spain. Every morning before school my mom would send me to the bakery with 21 pesetas (16 cents) to buy a warm loaf of bread. The bakers started to save a loaf for me on top of the oven every morning to keep it warm. That was my breakfast every day. When we saw that it was still there we simply had to go in and talk to the owner, who is the son of the person who owned it then. He was 10 years old at the time we were there and he was so excited to look through Margaret’s book. He called all his relatives from the back to come and see it as well. Soon there were kisses and hugs and it was like we were old family. No one remembered us and I didn’t remember anyone in particular, but we all knew that we had interacted before, 33 years ago. For the sake of nostalgia we bought a loaf of bread, just like before. Haley and Zoe felt like we needed to go a step further so they bought some chocolate chip cookies. New memories are made!
We followed the addresses down the street until we finally found Calle San Vicente #74. It wasn’t the same anymore, but at least we found the doorway! They had converted our house into a restaurant and added a few stories, and combined it with #73. We were able to get a few pictures in the doorway but that was all that was left of our house.
Our house was right across from the promenade so every Sunday we had a great view of the Spaniards “walking the playa” with their families. We decided to take part one Sunday.
So of course we had to do it again.
We walked around town a little bit and did some shopping, which cracked us up. We were never able to say “We did some shopping in Campello” when we lived here before – it was just too small of a town for any shopping. We wandered and we took some more pictures. A lot of the town looked exactly the same. Here are a few pictures that could have been taken 33 years ago.
After wandering around town we had a lovely lunch and gushed about how wonderful it was to meet the panaderia owners. While taking pictures of my old school I ran into one of the ladies we met at the panaderia. I’m back in town for 1 hour and already running into people I know!! Daniel says “Of course you are, it’s what you do.” Daniel and I wondered why we didn’t explore Alicante and Campello a bit more as we were looking for our place to settle in Spain for these 3 months. You can never regret your decisions because each one leads you to your current spot, but we were all impressed with the town and thought it might be a great place to spend some more time.
Margaret and I were only a little sad that our house had changed so much. The fact that we were able to connect with some people who were here before, whom we had known, was a huge and unexpected bonus. It was probably my best day in Spain so far. Definitely a memorable experience made moreso by sharing it with my sister. I’m hoping Haley and Zoe will have a similar reunion with some meaningful place and people when they are adults. It’s a real testament to how these experiences really stick with you for a lifetime, even the little experiences that seem so insignificant at the time. I never would have predicted that buying a loaf of bread every morning would be so meaningful 33 years later.