Cómo estás, Dona Carla?

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Mrs. Hughes and her garden


Lounging in the garden, Mrs. Hughes picks up the week’s copy of ¡Hola! Magazine and leisurely flips through the pages. And while browsing through photos of celeb babies and royal weddings, she occasionally takes a sip from a glass of Rioja (red wine), her favorite beverage.
After almost 30 years teaching around the world, including 16 years teaching English and Spanish at TAS, Mrs. Hughes and her husband, Dr. Hughes finally returned to the little town in Andalusia, Spain, where they first met.
When she first arrived back at the Spanish countryside and walked the sleepy streets of the pueblo blancos (white villages), she was “in shock.” It had been 30 years since she last lived in Spain, and she admitted that she’d forgotten how laidback the southern European lifestyle can be.
“It’s a wonderful way of life as long as you don’t expect to get anything done pronto especially in summer,” she says.
Since her return to Spain, Mrs. Hughes and her husband, Dr. Hughes has been busy getting their house and garden in order. Dr. Hughes set about building “The Great Wall” across the front garden, and Mrs. Hughes took refuge in the quiet of the back garden. Every so often she would take a peek at what was going on round the front and watch appalled as bulldozers came and went, followed by endless deliveries of building blocks and fifteen truckloads of topsoil.
“Chaos everywhere, all the time,” she says.
August came around and the entire country shut down for the month and went to the beach. As there was nothing else to do, Dr. and Mrs. Hughes followed suit. Then September arrived and things picked up where they had left off.
And now in October, the wall is almost finished, their shipment finally arrived from Taipei, and they are still happily married. Gone are the days of getting up at the crack of dawn to be at school in time to teach period one.
“Most days we actually get up around 8:30,” she says.
Something you may not know: the Spanish countryside is actually incredibly noisy.
“People assume that in the campo, there’s only peace and quiet. But it’s not true,” she said. “Here, we hear birds, chickens, goats, roosters, horses, dogs barking, peacocks …and even helicopters,” she adds, as a helicopter flew over her house during our Skype interview.
Andalusia, hidden away in the hills, may be forgotten by the world, but Mrs. Hughes is grateful that she is not. Every day, she has been pleased to receive two to three emails from former students, colleagues and friends and she’s always excited to read them.
“We love our new life but we do miss the people we met in Taipei and all of our [TAS] kids,” she said. “If you’d like to keep in touch, please do. We’d be happy to hear how you’re doing.”
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