The Rich in Spain

Celebrations at the Country Club
Celebrations at the Country Club

A friend Au Pairing in Pamplona, Spain organised for me to stay with a Spanish family for the Summer. My being there would help the 11 year old son improve his English, and I would improve my Spanish. I received free accommodation, free food, and a modest stipend. There was no cooking or cleaning, and childcare was a few hours every morning “conversing” with the child. It was a perfect set up for my Summer.

Coming from a working class family my exposure to the ‘rich’ was limited, and the families I knew with money required their children to have part-time jobs during high school to learn the value of it, so it was a real eye-opener to live with the rich in Spain.

The single mother and her son lived in an apartment close to the city center; it was also 5 minutes on foot to the grandparents place and another minute to her brothers’, who was also a single parent. All 4 adults drove 4xD. They traveled to places like Mexico and NYC every year as a family. They had a Summer house in the south of Spain. They had a cook and cleaner for all of them. The kids went to top private schools.

Every week day, the mother, a massage therapist, and her brother, a physio, went to work at her mothers’ health center.  At lunch they met at the grandparents place to enjoy food prepared by the cook. Time following their lunch and siesta was spent at the club with the same friends everyday. Until night fell, they sunbathed, swam to cool off, and from time to time checked up on the kids who were happily playing with their own friends.  

This life of leisure was nothing I had ever experienced before. The reality was, most of the money came from the grandfather who had been president of a bank. But what was completely foreign to me was how his children who were in their late 30s proudly lived from his money. In some sense, it’s an extension of the many adults who still live with their parents in Spain until their late 20s and sometimes older. I later had this discussion with a couple of 25 year old Spanish students when I was teaching English. Board money? They had never heard of it. The idea that adult children should financially contibute to the family household was absurd. This was a cultural difference that I’ve had to accept just as different from my own. Not wrong or right, just different. 

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