“the state of things as they are or appear to be, rather than as one might wish them to be”
“that which exists, independent of human awareness”
People in Spain walk very fast. But the crazy thing is it doesn’t look like they are walking fast. Like, they don’t put a lot of effort into it. They just walk…fast. When I try to keep up, I feel like I’m straight up power walking. Also, they will run you over if you don’t get out of their way. I’ve tried to be stubborn and keep to my path but they run into me every single time. If I don’t want to get hit, I have to be the one to move.
One thing I’ve been craving is a real cup of coffee. Don’t get me wrong, I love the coffee here. But it goes by so quickly! I want to be able to sit down and enjoy a cup
of coffee for longer than 4 sips. One day a friend of mine invited me over for some real French press coffee. It was…. Ok.
Not the best I’ve had, a little too light for me and quite earthy. BUT. At the same time, it was perfect. To be able to sit down and enjoy a cup of black coffee made me so happy I couldn’t stop smiling!
One day I was sitting in the park with a group of other au pairs and a man approached us and warned us that we should keep an eye on our personal belongings because people steal things etc etc… I glanced at him to see who this crazy guy might be… and it was CARLOS! The same creeper that I had run into during my first month here! I looked away hoping he wouldn’t recognize me and he finally left. Aye. What are the chances!
Today I enrolled in the oldest girl’s home school dance class… She’s got some talent. I would mimic everything she did and I couldn’t even keep up. We recorded a video and she has been watching it ever since.
I went up to Segovia a couple weeks ago. It is an amazingly beautiful city. When I walked through the cobblestone streets I couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like to walk on those same streets hundreds of years ago. Spain has such a long history that is hard to fathom being from America. The United States really only exists as we know it because the queen of Spain decided to sponsor the curious adventurous Columbus. In Segovia I saw the famous cathedral and castle. There was even a “Las Vegas” but we couldn’t find the actual place.
Speaking of Columbus… They have a national holiday dedicated to him. A whole military parade and everything. The King comes and all the soldiers salute him as they march by. It’s quite the event. Tons and tons of people were there to see it. It was more organized and efficient than any parade I’ve seen in the States. I def enjoyed it. I even bought a little Spanish flag.
One thing I absolutely love is the music. Not like bands and CDs and stuff (which I also
enjoy and listen to on a regular basis) but the music in the streets, in the metro station, in the actual metro… It is common to be riding and have one or two people enter and entertain you for a song or two. I’ve seen guitars, trumpets, microphones with an amplifier, violins, and more. One guy even came in and shouted at us the whole time.
Maybe he was reciting a poem… I don’t know, I didn’t understand any of it. After they are done (it usually lasts about two stops) they walk through asking for money. I can’t always give or I’d have no money. Sometimes we’ll be eating on the terrace at a restaurant and a group will come serenade us. I really can’t get enough of it. Pure music and raw talent. Sometimes the raw is emphasized greatly.
One night I had gone to my professor Sergio’s house (another story) for a birthday party. I had wanted to leave in time to get the last Metro home but I got to the station five minutes late so I had to take a night bus. There wasn’t one that went directly from his house to mine, I had to take one into the center and from there catch the one to my house. The night buses run about every hour and I figured it would take at least two to get home. It was about 145am when the first bus came. I left with Sergio’s sweater because I was cold. I was on the bus for a very long time, trying to stay awake so I wouldn’t miss my stop. After about an hour I asked the bus driver if the bus would be stopping in Cibeles. Yes, yes it was the last stop. Ok good. Another half hour passed and I asked again, how many more stops until Cibeles. He answered very rudely it’s the last stop, the last stop. Ok…. 3am now and still driving around. We passed a metro stop and I looked it up on my map. … It was literally two stops away from where I got on the bus. Are you kidding me?! I just spend the last hour and a half driving around and getting nowhere! I decided to just bite the bullet and get a taxi. The driver was super nice and we talked the whole way to my house. He was from Africa and had lost his job due to the economy and now had to be a Taxi driver. He doesn’t love it but it pays the bills. It only cost 15 Euro… I thanked him profusely when I got out telling him he saved my life! “It’s just my job…” But I told him otherwise, it’s more than just a job. I said that maybe I’d see him again one day and got out. Although with all the taxi drivers in this city, that would be highly unlikely. I got home at 345am and managed to get about five hours of sleep before needing to wake up the next morning. I had plans to go for a picnic in Retiro park. The next morning, I went down to the bus stop to wait for the bus to take me to the Metro station. On Sundays a person can wait up to 20 min for that bus. I saw a taxi approach and laughed to myself thinking how funny it would be if it was the same one from the night before. As it passed, the driver looked at me and me at him and he smiled…and waved…! It was the same guy!! I smiled and waved back a little too excitedly. He backed up and asked if I needed a taxi. No thanks, I’m just waiting for the bus. He said no, get in, I’ll take you to the Metro! So I did and he gave me a free ride. It made my day. I don’t remember everything I said the night before but I hope whatever impression I made will continue to influence him and who knows, he may be making other people’s days.
A couple of nights ago I took another taxi home and chatted it up with the driver. By the time I got home we had exchanged numbers so we could meet up in the future so I can practice my Spanish! Only to practice. His name isn’t Sergio.
Tomorrow night I’m meeting with another guy so I can practice my Spanish and him his English. It will probably be a regular thing. And no, his name isn’t Sergio either.
I’ve been able to meet people from Spain and it has been incredible. It has completely changed my views and lifestyle. One of my friends shared a quote with me today that is on her mom’s coffee mug, “Friends are the chocolate chips in the cookie of life.” We all know how much those chocolate chips are needed… And meeting these people have helped me feel less like a tourist and more that I belong. My Spanish friends are so accepting and willing to talk with me even though they have to be patient. Sometimes I feel bad that I make them repeat things over and over and slowly so that I can understand. But I stop feeling bad when they call me the next weekend to join them again. It’s becoming more of a reality. It still doesn’t feel like home, but it’s beginning to feel like mi casa. I caught myself trying to “replace” my idea of home with my lifestyle here but I realized that it would be an impossible task. I have a home and I always will. I never want to change that and thankfully I don’t have to. Mi casa aqui is different… Completely different. And it’s becoming comfortable. I’ve settled into a rhythm
that works for me. I love it.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my friends at home. And every time I think about how amazing it would be to show my new world to all of you.
It has become a little difficult to find things to write about and I think that is because most things are becoming part of my everyday life and less of a first impression. Then I
remember a piece of advice one of my friends left me with, “You’re in freakin’ Spain!!! Try not to let the novelty and excitement of that wear off.”
One day when I was feeling homesick I read through all my letters in my notebook and compiled all of the advice. I thought it was worth sharing.
Keep it real. Allow [this experience] to make you a better person and shape your view of the world a little clearer. Live life like it was meant to be lived. Enjoy your Spanish
adventure with your whole body, soul and mind. Keep smiling. Don’t come home
without your man. Have fun. Don’t ever change who you are. Enjoy every minute of each day. Try not to let the novelty & excitement of [being in freakin’ Spain] wear off.
Never forget who you are. Take time for others, but save enough for yourself. Go all out, give your all. Don’t get swept up in the crowd, don’t forget to trust yourself and keep God on a 1st name basis. Listen more than talk. Think on purpose, trust your instincts. Love life and the people you are with, even when it’s hard. Have expectations but open your arms to uncertainty. Change lives with your love and consistency. Continue living life to its fullest, learn something new daily, never be too busy to help out, laugh freely, and love fully.
Today it rained for the first time. I’ve conversed with people from Arabia, China, Korea, Japan, Italy, France, England, Switzerland, Holland, and Spain…all in Spanish. I watch Spanish cartoons. I’ve read an entire book in Spanish. I’ve gotten sick three times. I wear flannel on Fridays. My host dad went to the States for work and brought me back peanut butter. I bought a mini flag of Spain. I broke the screen to my cheap Nokia phone. Sometimes I say English words with a Spanish accent. When I listen to Spanish, sometimes I forget that it’s a different language because I’m not consciously translating…I just know what they’re saying. Every morning upon waking and every evening before I sleep I repeat to myself, “Everyday in every way I am getting better and better” thanks to the advice of Robert Muller.
I live in Spain. My dream has become a reality.