Thursday, September 15, 2016

A New Hampshire Yankee in Spain (and I brought the whole family this time)

Heading out for an adventure on the plane!
Earlier this summer the whole family, including not-quite-one-year old granddaughter went to Spain to visit the relatives.  This was inspired by looking at photos and videos of my daughter's first trip to Spain when she was only six months old.  It's not easy traveling with a toddler, but we had four generations of helpers all along the way.  It is well worth the trip, even though the baby will not remember any of it.  In the photos of my daughter's trip to Spain in the 1980s we had pictures of her being dandled on the knees of great grandparents and lots of tios and primos (translation:  uncles and cousins) who have since passed away.  Those photos are precious memories to everyone.  We were able to recreate this with a new generation this year!

After a day of rest from the time and climate change, we went to a dinner at a cousins house and met a lots of relatives.  Of course the baby was the center of attention!  The woman on the left is Vincent's mother, and her first cousin is the gentleman on the right.  They grew up together in far flung corners of Spain when their fathers (two brothers) were in the military during the Spanish Civil War.  Their mothers were two sisters, so they are really double first cousins.

We had time to explore Madrid, and in the summer the city is empty and everyone is on vacation at the shore or in the mountains.  Usually the Plaza Major is full of tourists and locals, but on this day we had it all to ourselves.  The baby, of course, was more fascinated with the cobblestones than the statue of King Felipe III.  

And we visited the Madrid zoo with baby, even though it is a very hot place for a bunch of New England Yankees in the heat of summer.  Visiting the Madrid zoo is tradition, too.  Here is are the professional photos taken at the entrance of the Madrid Zoo by the staff photographers over the years. We have similar photos of my first trip to the zoo, and even Vincent as a little boy at the Madrid Zoo.

Madrid Zoo 1976
Vincent and his parents
Madrid Zoo 1989
We are with a cousin, my daughter in the stroller
Madrid Zoo 2016
The whole family, three generations

Another dinner with Spanish cousins, at a pub in Madrid

This is the Roman catholic church, St. Nicolas de Bari in the village of Sinovas, built about 1200 AD where Vincent's father was baptized (yes, this church is well over eight hundred years old!).  It is a former synagogue, and the village name Sinovas means "place of the synagogue".  In the churchyard are the tombstones of generations of Rojo family members. As far back as I have researched in church records (back to the 1600s) members of Vincent's family were baptized, married and buried here.  We toured the village with one of Vincent's first cousins, who showed us his grandfather's land and wine cellars. The house where Vincent's father was born is still standing near the plaza. 

Down to the wine cellars under the streets of the village of Aranda de Duero.

And dinner with some Rojo cousins

Our course we had to taste the wine in the wine cellars, too! 

During afternoons, when the grownups were taking siestas, baby preferred waving to passers-by from the balcony of Vincent's mother's house.  If she has any memories of this trip, I wonder what she will remember?  Cobblestones? Balconies? Tasting the tapas in the pubs (she loved the cheese, the paella, the tortillas, flan, the goat and fish)? Will she remember kissing lots of cousins? 

What does my daughter remember about going to Spain when she was little?  Playing with cousins, exploring castles and monuments, eating weird food, learning songs and finger plays in Spanish, learning a second language very early, connecting with the culture, and more!  Yes, she does remember. And when I talk about the villages and ancestors she can now say that she knows that church or that family. 

I remember traveling with my daughter when she was a baby, and as a small child, as well as this trip with a grandbaby.  As well as the usual tourist memories we also have memories of how welcoming the Spanish people are to children. In restaurants the staff usually goes out the way to accommodate children, and to entertain them so Mum and Dad can eat.  Strangers will bless the child, and strike up conversations.  Other parents on the street will compare strollers, baby shoes, shopping tips, and where to buy diapers and supplies.  Older relatives will not only dandle baby on their knees and pose for photos, but the baby will bring out lots of stories about other babies in the family, as well as lots of family history so be prepared to write it all down! 

We didn't do any genealogy research in archives during this trip. But I wrote down lots of family stories, saw a lot of great family sites and met up with cousins we had never met before, and reconnected with lots of cousins we know very well.  My daughter and granddaughter walked the streets of their ancestors.  We have lots of photos to show baby when she is older. Someday we will be looking at those photos and reminiscing about all the older generations of people in those pictures who have since passed away. 



Published under a Creative Commons License

Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "A New Hampshire Yankee in Spain (and I brought the whole family this time)", Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 15, 2016,  ( accessed [access date]).  


  1. A priceless multigenerational adventure! How wonderful that you met "new" cousins and reconnected with cousins you've met before. Loved the photos.

  2. What a great family trip with priceless photos!!!

  3. What fun comparing the generations visiting the zoo and how lucky you are to be able to visit not only the ancestral home, but with all the cousins still living there. Spain is a beautiful country.

  4. Heather, you take my breath away! So precious! Thank you!

  5. Just beautiful.....Isabella and her Bo-Bo went all the way to Spain. I truly enjoyed this Post Heather. Glorious time. I like the wine photo! Great Memories you made for the family!

  6. I love the photographs -- 3 generations at the zoo, though ALL are amazing.