Yesterday, we spent our time in class talking about where we were born, where we lived, why we came to Spain and what we particularly liked about the places where we lived.
Our teacher, Antonio started off by telling us that he was born in Bigastro on Calle Purisima just down the street from where he now lives. in fact he has spent his whole life, not just in the same town but living in the same street. He was bemused to hear how members of his class had moved around so much, not just within Britain but abroad as well.
Antonio went on to explain that, at the time of his birth, there was no hospital or nursing home nearby. Babies were delivered in the home courtesy of the midwife. In the case of complications, she would call a doctor in Orihuela who would then have to drive over to offer assistance. For anything more serious, the mother to be would have to be taken to either Elche or Alicante – a thirty minutes to one hour drive.
Antonio had already told us, if a mother was unable to feed her baby then a neighbour would step in as a “wet nurse” and that weaning meant mixing flour, water and milk to make a paste which was offered as solid food.
In the era that Antonio was brought up, there was no form of sex education in schools and censorship in Spain meant that films and books made no reference to sexual acts. He told us that many Spaniards travelled to France for the grape harvest and there they were able to experience a more liberal society that opened their eyes to a lot more than was available to them in Spain. You have to remember that, in Bigastro most of the houses were single storey with two bedrooms at the front, living quarters at the back and a patio where animals were kept. There was no television nor were there telephones and the streets were just soil. The town ended at the church, after that it was farming land. Things were a lot more primitive here than in Britain where we all came from.
It was very much a male orientated society in Spain at that time; the men went out to work, the women looked after the house and children. Men would never consider offering a a hand to help with the chores, instead they would go out to a bar for a beer or two in the evening. Being a catholic country, there was no form of contraception readily available and so families simply grew as the women would have baby after baby.
Spaniards are not coy when it comes to talking about sex and so Antonio was able to fill in the details about relationships without pulling punches. It was both entertaining and enlightening to listen to what he had to say.