The All American Family, With a Spanish Twist

May 24, 2012 Comments disabled

As someone who has lived abroad for over a decade and seen so many multi-cultural relationships blossom and thrive, I love reading stories like Cari and Juan Luis’s. In this interview, Cari tells us all about how she and her family happily weave together the Spanish and American cultures in their day to day family life.

Tell us a bit about yourself. How would your friends or family describe you?

I am a 38 year-old mom of three and have been married 16 years to my husband from Spain, Juan Luis Andreani. When I was in college I wanted to travel abroad and went to Madrid, Spain. I fell in love with Europe and ended up finding a job there and living for a year. I came back and finished my degree (I changed my major from Education to Spanish with an emphasis in teaching languages and a minor in Sociology), married my Spaniard and now teach English at a private high school here in Jacksonville,  Fl. I am very driven and have gone further in my education graduating now with a Masters in Leadership. My husband and I love to travel to new places and feel that the world is a marvelous place! I love learning about new cultures and exposing my children to them. My parents and family are very typical “all-American” and I am married to the only “foreigner” but my family adores my husband and the uniqueness he brings. I think he is still adorable and exotic and I have loved our journey together.

Where do you live? Where are you from? If those are different, can you tell us a little about what inspired your move?

I live in Jacksonville, Florida, but I am originally from Salt Lake City, Utah. After I moved back from Spain, I finished my degree at the University of Utah and my husband joined the American military and we were stationed first in Jacksonville. We loved it so much, we stayed when he got out.

If you would describe yourself as multi-cultural, tell us a bit about what culture you most identify with and why. What culture do your kids most associate with?

I think the best way that describes us is maybe “split personality”. Since we live here and we all work/go to school in American schools, we are very American, but we try to keep the things we like from Spain. For example, my husband is the chef of the home and cooks a lot of Mediterranean food.

Can you describe a typical day for you?

Because my husband has lived here for about 17 years- he has adapted the most to the American way of life. However, we visit Spain at least once every year or two and it curbs our (my husbands specifically) homesickness. We are your “all-American” family, with a Spanish side to us.

What is the best part of living in your country? The worst?

Here in the States we can have a great life. Economically, we can have a better quality of life here. In Europe, especially Spain, economic times are tough. We enjoy the quality of life and safety from living in the suburbs.

The worst part is possibly the food- we hate fast food and hate that our country is basically killing themselves slowly with a poor diet.

What books or films would you recommend someone who’d like to know more about your country?

We recently saw the movie “There Be Dragons” about the Spanish Civil War. A great movie.

What language or languages do you use on a day to day basis?

We speak mostly English but we are also bilingual and speak Spanish (Castillian or Castellano) My husband, my oldest son, and I are fluent. Our two little ones (ages 10, and 7 are not, but understand quite a bit.)

Tell me about a national hero in your country (can be anyone- living or not, internationally famous or not). Who are they and what are they admired for?

Since my husband and sons watch sports they LOVE Iker Casillas (soccer), Nadal (Tennis), Alonso( Formula One), and Sergio Garcia (golf)

 Tell me about your favorite holiday, and what cultural traditions you practice to celebrate on that day.

Christmas is the best- we celebrate Reyes Magos (the Three Wise Men on Jan. 6th too)

Describe a favorite typical meal from your country (include photos if you like!)

Favorite meal are so many things from Spain- like I said my husband cooks and he is better than any restaurant! He makes Pollo Al Ajillo (chicken in garlic and olive oil and white wine), Paella (rice dish), and Flan (custard) for dessert. My FAVORITE is Cordero (lamb) they make it with garlic, olive oil, wine (Malaga Virgen) and rosemary.

What’s something that visitors are often surprised by when getting to know your country/culture?

Spaniards look nothing like South Americans. They are Europeans and are light skinned and many have blonde hair. They also are surprised when they see Madrid (the capital) it is very similar to Paris and very European. I think because of the Spanish language they associate more with South American, but the truth is they are European and have more of a feel of  French than any South American country.

About the author

Carrie McKeegan
Carrie is an American who just moved from Bali to Mendoza, Argentina. Carrie caught the wanderlust bug early on from her parents, who raised her in Mexico City. Carrie and her husband David have lived in New York, London, Barcelona, Costa Rica, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, and Bali before moving to Mendoza. They are actively working to pass on the travel bug to their young son Timmy, who has already been to twelve countries.
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