Traditionally, the 14th of February is a Holy Day on the Iberian peninsula. Though Valentine never was accepted as one of the saints, the legend tells that he got his rosary of Maria herself. When you were born on the 14th, you’re blessed, they say. A bit of his glory rubs off, so to speak.

Spanish Julia is one of the fortunate people celebrating her birthday today. She’s here for a week now to help as a volunteer.

A little less blessed are the economic circumstances in Spain. Her boyfriend will be a set designer in the theater, but could only arrange an internship in Prague. That’s why Julia went there for a while. When you have a relationship for 3 years, it’s quite hard to not see eachother for 6 months.

Vibrant theater

The theater is alive and kicking in the Czech Republic, so it seems. In Prague, everybody is going to the theater on sundays. There are many theaters, many companies, many productions. It’s hard to get a ticket, shows are sold out. Paradise for future set designers.

A bit less ideal for our Julia. She could teach spanish, because spanish is one of the leading languages in the world. But now she went “workaway-ing”, as we call it. Do something for herself by herself. Not a big hype anymore that a “woman follows her man” – and to wait untill something would happen there in Prague. Not an ideal situation.

Good that Workaway* exists. Because of those opportunities, a lot of (young) people go around the world and make themselves useful. Learn about life and get insight on various areas of work. We are helped, of course, but the additional advantage is the pleasant atmosphere it brings. It’s nice to have all kinds of people around, and you hear stories you’d normally never hear.

A rich life

It enriches our lives. Like now, we host spanish Julia, vietnamese Linh and canadese Islay. Like this, you hear about how life is in the students appartments in Hanoi, in the suburbs of Winnipeg or in the centre of Barcelona. And for desert the stories of other parts of the world they visited.

You can read a lot in the newspaper, see much on the news, follow all sorts of subjects on the internet. We all know that the situation in Spain still is not really flourishing. But what you don’t know is how the individuals cope with that. A big part of the new generation has trouble finding a job, 25% is unemployed. That’s the news.

It’s different when one of those can tell you what they do to survive. The boyfriend goes to Prague. Julia volunteers here and there and studies online. They skype a lot. Book a cheap ticket to see eachother from time to time.

It’s a way to deal with things. And we hear firsthand, that Spain went with the European time**, just because Franco thought that it was best to do what the Germans did. We learn that Barcelona is in fact a collection of little villages, separated by big Avenidas, and that people still greet eachother on the streets. That half of Spain wants to be independant, so it could end up like 3 or 4 different countries. A hot item.

Valentine and traditions

So now we know as well that Valentine is a real Saint, allthough not a licenced one. Nice to know that we not blindly follow the commercialism but that today is a holiday that has its roots in the European (Catholic) traditions. Happy Valentine!

*Workaway is one of the sites that combines hosts and volunteers. There are more sites like this one: HelpX, Joho.

** In Portugal it is one hour earlier, we’re on GMT.