Today our friends Steve and Pura drove us about an hour south of Valencia to Valldigna. The valley is a long, gradual slope from lush mountains down to the Mediterranean, covered in orange groves. “It means dignified valley, if you like,” offered Steve, and it fits.
We stopped for an hour in the middle of the valley, at the municipality of Simat de Valldigna to visit its star attraction: An historic monastery nestled amongst the orange trees, called Convento de Santa Maria de Valldigna.
Our new friend Juanjo (more on him later) stored oranges in this building as a kid.
Outside was beautiful, too:
After visiting the monastery, we drove further up valley into the mountains and enjoyed a home-cooked paella at the summer/country home of Steve and Pura’s good friend Juanjo. This was a special treat for me, because my parents met Juanjo on their trip here two years ago. He taught Dad to make his own version (which is fantastic), and Mom and Dad have raved about his paella ever since.
While waiting for the paella to cook, we enjoyed tapas with meat, cheese, bread, and olives, a swimming pool, good drink, and 360 degree view of orange groves, the company of new friends, and the energy of three young boys running around. The boys were Steve and Pura’s son Ethan, and their friends Rencho and Maria’s boys Enzo (short for Lorenzo, like his father) and Albi.
Rencho had heard Catherine was a singer, and he kept on playing show tunes until he got her to sing along to something from Grease (I think). Everyone agreed with me that Maria looked a lot like Kimbra when I pointed it out with help from the Internet.
We also enjoyed Steve and Pura’s other visiting friend Virginia, another fellow to reflect with on our experiences here. And our dear Alba — another American who’s in Valencia over twenty years. Alba understands (and forgives) my futile attempts at bilingual humor, and generally helps us with the subtleties cultural translation.