…should always look like this.
And I am working on making that happen.
When I first moved to Spain my friend Laura was having boy troubles, caught between two guys that she was seeing at the same time without either of them knowing about the other. It wasn’t something she’d planned on, but like many things in life, the situation just sort of escalated.
Special is as Special Does
So we hiked Macchu Pichu. Yes, we did that. The stuff dreams are made of.
But not my dreams. I mean, sure, it’s a bucket-list-worthy, life-changing event that many people spend years saving up and planning for. I’m just not one of those people. I’ve got a bucket list, of course, but this was never on it. Running a marathon? On the list. Writing a book? Also on the list. Climbing one of the New 7 Wonders of the World? Not so much.
Don’t get me wrong–it was cool. It was pretty cool to see this place that so few (or so many?) people will see in their lifetimes. And I much appreciated and enjoyed some time away from B & J on a long, solo hike. It reminded me of riding my bike last summer in France–lots of time to think and just be alone.
But was it worth it? That’s the question, Friends, and I don’t know that I can honestly answer yes. Eric Friend asays our generation has this fascination with travel, valuing it above most other experiences. When we think of vacation, we picture working really hard for a long time to save up. Then you go away somewhere, spend it all, and start over.
And I’ve done that, Friends. Many times, always precipitated by the worry that I’m making the right choice (adventure over stability) and followed the stress of being back at square one, financially and emotionally.
Sometimes it is worth it. France last summer was absolutely worth it–I gained insight, patience, self-love, and of course language skills. And when I did a similar program (a month-long study abroad) in Spain, that was undeniably life changing–I gained confidence, perspective, a life-long friend, and I was finally able to leave a 5 1/2 year, passionless relationship.
Because I was just in one spot for these “vacations,” getting to know a place and its people deeply, rather than just skimming the surface, skipping from town to town every other day, like in South America.
The year I lived in Spain, my happiest months were November, April and May–the three months where I didn’t leave Madrid. Even last year, the year of many travels, I felt scattered, untethered. After I came home from visiting Kevin in Spain in January, I stayed put for (what seemed like) a record 4 months. And I was happier than I’ve been in a long, long time.
So I can’t say that it’s worth it. The stress, anxiety, financial burden and absence do not, for me, justify being able to say “I climbed Macchu Pichu. Yes, I did that.”
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You can’t tell me that’s any more special than backyard parties with my family, or playing music with Eric, or going to Mad Men with the Stephanies. You can’t convince me that this whirlwind lifestyle is providing me with growth and experience that I would never get in a small city. You can’t tell me that the hustle and bustle beat sleeping in on Sunday mornings, or reading in my own bed, in my own apartment, on a rainy afternoon. You can’t make me believe that the people I’ve met in my travels are any more special or unique or amazing than the people I leave back home.
Because if I have learned one thing, it is that people are special, and unique, and amazing everywhere. People are also boring, and selfish, and horrible everywhere. And when you’re traveling you have to listen to tales of them drunkenly squandering their parents’ money on their 3- or 6- or 12-month adventures.
Not to give travel, or travelers, a bad name. It’s just that it’s so much easier to make connections and get at a deeper meaning when you allow yourself to stand still in one place, to put down roots.
So, yes, I stood on top of Macchu Pichu. Then I lost my friends, wandered around, waited in the sun surrounded by a teeming mass of tourists, walked back to town shaking with exhaustion and hunger, paid too much for shitty Chinese food, disputed with the waiter over whether or not my money was counterfeit, found my “friends,” went to some hot springs, made small talk with strangers, changed, dicked around in an internet cafe, paid too much for shitty burritos, had to run through town to catch my train, chatted with a naive, impressionable young Brit, then stumbled through Cuzco in the dark to find a hostel, where I slept poorly due to the constant flow of young travelers.
Today, on the other hand, I slept in til 9, ate cereal while checking my favorite blogs, went for a run, made a smoothie, tidied up the house, worked from 2-6 at the library, saw Contagion for free with friends, walked through the warm and windy evening, talked in a parked car, came home, enjoyed a delicious home-made burrito, blogged, and now I’m going to read my book.
This isn’t perfect, it isn’t forever, but it’s a pretty good fit. For me, for now.
I know that there is something more than this, that I have not yet found my place, but I no longer believe I can find it by wandering. My Special can not be found in hostels, or on 8-hour bus rides, or even on top of mountains.
Maybe, just maybe…my Special must be made.
The epic conclusion!!!
New here? Catch up by reading these:
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This will be my last Hola de España. Que triste, ¿no? But I definitely have ganas to come home and be with my friendships and my family in Utah again. Being here has REALLY enforced my appreciation for how unique Utah and Salt Lake City are. No place like it in the world. Even if we do have ridiculous liquor laws.
So…I cheered up in Valencia. I started busquing again, making money, and that’s always nice. I played really well there, and maybe now I’m addicted to the thrill of performing in the streets. Hopefully there’s a patch for that, because no way is it going to be the same in Utah. I also went to the movies two nights in a row in Valencia, the highlight of which was seeing ‘Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay’ in Spanish. Except here it’s called ‘Dos Colgados Muy Fumados,’ which I think translates to ‘Two Very Stoned Stoners.’
Then, on the bus from Valencia to Barcelona, I sat next to this Italian kid named Francesco, and we got to talking (in Spanish, because his English isn’t too hot. And I don’t speak Italian…), and he said that they had an extra room in his flat where I could sleep. So, now I have my own room in an apartment in Barcelona for free for the week. Awesome, no? The other people there are a Chilean girl named Viviana and a boy from Brighton, England named Josh. So it’s all very international, which is a pretty good representation of Barcelona, as a whole. Since I’ve been here (since Sunday) I’ve hung out with kids from Peru, Argentina, Chile, England, Spain, the US, and then a ton of Italians.
Oh, and I’ve been hanging out with my amigo Brett from the U of U. Viviana took us dancing last night. And of course all of this has been very good for my Spanish. (Carol: De verdad, chica, podemos hablar muchisimo en Español cuando yo vuelva, porque ya hablo tanto mejor . Podemos hablar TODO EL TIEMPO.)
Tonight I’m gonna go check out La Sagrada Familia with Brett, and some other Gaudi building. We already went to Parque Güell, which was crazy and beautiful. I’ve also been to the beach here, and I’ll probably go again before I leave. Then I’ll be back in Madrid on Friday, and then home on Sunday in time for supper (which had damn well consist of spicy cheetos, is all I’m saying…)
Oh, and we went and got pinxos and this dark red champagne-like beverage in a bar here that was SO packed. Like, think of when you go to a concert at a really big venue, and when the main band comes on and everyone rushes the stage, and you’re all pressed in together. It was like that. For, like, 45 minutes while we ate and drank, standing. Apparently this is typical in Barcelona, and I actually had a really good time.
People keep asking me which part of Spain I’ve enjoyed the most. It’s really hard to say. I mean, I’ve only been i n most spots for a handful of days. And they’re all so distinct. Barcelona is very Metropolitan, with wide streets packed with people from all over the world. The Gaudi stuff is just icing on the cake. And I liked Valencia, because of the park in the dried-up river bed. I rented a bike there on Sunday morning and rode for an hour and just thought my thoughts and smiled. I liked Alicante, because the beach is right in the middle of the city, and so is the castle, and it’s filled with shady pocket parks, and it’s just got something special about it. I guess La Mata wasn’t that cool, but I had a good time there. Madrid was amazing, but incredibly hot. And I met so many people there, and Laura and I became good friends. I already have plans to return to her. And being there when Spain won the Euro Cup? How can you beat that?
And of course, of course, I loved Oviedo. She’s beautiful, and very sophisticated, and utterly unique. And the people there definitely appre ciate their classical music. Add to that no tourists and a million beaches that are just a bus-ride away, and what else can you say? Oviedo will always be in my heart.
But soon I’m coming home, and nothing is better than home. I miss you all dearly, and I can’t wait to see you. It’s been great. ¡Hasta ahora!
p.s. Plus I am so freakin’ tan, it’s going to blow you away. Ha!
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And that was that. Then I came home, broke up with my boyfriend, started hooking up with another, younger guy, lived in my parent’s friend’s basement and anxiously began my last year of college. It made for a great diet.
Things I didn’t say in the emails:
-Kevin (the quiet boy) became my boyfriend of right now, after much drama and hesitation on both our parts.
-I came as close to getting sexually assaulted as I will hopefully ever come by the Italian guy in Barcelona. Just so you don’t think that traveling like this is without risk.
-I fooled around with Michael in La Mata, even though he was a dick to me. I normally don’t date jerks, but apparently in Spain I do, because Jorge was a dick to me, as well, though at least he was very upfront about having “la polla pequeña” (his exact words). Honesty can only get you so far, though, and it certainly won’t get you off.
-Also I don’t know if it comes across just how lonely and confused and cranky I was. I hated traveling alone. I hated being by myself, with only the guilt of my impulsive decisions for company. But now I love traveling alone, more than most anything. I guess it’s just…back then I didn’t know myself very well, or love myself, and now I do. Now I’m my favorite person to spend time with. And I guess we can call that growing older. I used to constantly wish to be able to go back in time, try again, start over. But I almost never wish that now. I’m happy to be where I am.
Which is to say: home.
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Hola, todo el mundo…
Wow, can’t believe we’re up to number six already. I feel like I’ve been here forever. Although…I guess the travelling bit is going by fast enough. I already miss being in school in Oviedo oh-so much.
I’m now in Valencia. I’ve been here since yesterday. And I am so very, very lonely and bored. Everybody who says that travelling solo is fun is wrong. It sucks. Wait, here’s a list of things that are fun to do alone while travelling: going to the beach. Seriously, that’s about it, and even that would be much more fun with others. I’ve nearly lost my will to go look at historical crap. Like, ‘Oh, there’s another old archway, maybe I should go look at it. Wait, I’m alone and nothing is fun when you’re alone. Nevermind.’ That’s me.
So basically I’ve been going to the beach just about every day. Night time is the worst, because that’s when all of Spain conspires to remind me of the joys of companionship by going out to the bars and cafes together and walking around the street in groups. And so many people have been like ‘Don’t worry, you’ll meet people,’ but no. Michael said to try hanging out in the common area of my hostel, but neither of my hostels since Michael has had a common area. I’ll hear people speaking English in the hall, but what am I supposed to do? Run out and demand that they let me join their already established group of friends? I think not. And meeting spaniards is all but out of the question, as the only spaniards who want to talk to me are guys (or, usually, men) who want more than just friendship. Damnit!
My point is: travelling alone sucks. So there.
I did hang out with this older guy who owns a little tienda in Alicante, and he took me to a chiringuita on the beach, and also I chatted up the kid who worked in the hostel there, and all of that was in Spanish, and even I was surprised at my level of conversation. But other than that, any conversation I’ve had has been in Engliss. With myself. In my journal, which is acting like my Wilson to keep me from totally losing it.
So hopefully I can force Brett to hang out with me four nights in a row in Barcelona, and then I go back to Laura, and then I’ll be home.
Which reminds me: I want to see as many of my family members and friendships as possible upon the night of my return. Chi has tried to squash this plan, because he doesn’t want to share, but I don’t think he quite understands that all I want is to be squeezed to death in the biggest group hug of my life. I get in at 7pm on the 20th. Plan accordingly.
I really miss my sisters. I miss reading Harry Potter to mancub. I miss telling Wachira that I’m not asleep yet. I miss shelving books. I DON’T miss the homeless people, but if I did, there are plenty of them in Spain. I miss doing that fake laugh that Adam thinks is funny. I miss talking in different accents with the friendships. Goodness, I miss TALKING. Anyways. See you soon, todo el mundo.
…being the 5th in a series, preceded by:
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Hi, y’all. This’ll be short. I’m in Alicante now. I left Madrid on Thursday with Michael (the Irish kid from Cambridge) and we caught a bus to La Mata, which is a little touristy place, except all of the tourists are Spanish and Brittish and German (although it turns out they prefer to be called ‘English’ instead of Brittish, says Michael). It was fun. We mostly just hung around and he worked on Physics stuff and gave me crap for being American and we enlightened each other on different Englishes (They don’t say sidewalk! Wow! And a handful of other things I didn’t know, because I did know about flannel instead of washcloth and nappy instead of diaper and stuff like that from Chi’s family).
Except that we missed our bus, and that was definitely all my fault, and then I had to buy us two new bus tickets. So I wound up spending 90€ instead of 30€ which sort of defeated the purpose of skipping Seville and Granada to go to La Mata because I could stay for free and save money. Oh well. Moms and Dad: I am not in need of your money (which you have so kindly offered, REMEMBER)…yet. I’m gonna keep trying this busquing thing, even though I made almost nothing in both Madrid and La Mata. I’ll try Alicante, though, and see how far the money I DO have goes before I accept your oh-so-gracious offer. Wait, let me say it like this: I don’t need your money, I’d rather work the streets. Oh, that never gets old…
Pues…nada (‘So…yeah’). Now I’m in Alicante and I’ve officially begun travelling sola, which is alright…so far. We’ll see. Now I’m trying to think of a way to get back to Seville, but I just don’t know if that’s gonna happen. Maybe I’ll catch a plane. If I can do that with my maleta (‘suitcase’) AND violin. We’ll see. We’ll see, we’ll see, that’s where I am right now.
Love and miss you all! In my next e-mail, I’ll include a series of demands for the things I want to eat and who I want to see on the night of my return. But here’s a hint: spicy cheetos and friendships.
p.s. Hey, is anyone looking to move out in August? Or does anybody KNOW anybody looking to move out in August? Because I need to find someone to live with (what with the bottom end of housing being so expensive in Utah…) and right now I’m a bit effed. Keep your ears open. Thanks.
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I had forgotten about the spicy cheetos thing. I would never eat those now. Good times.
New to this? Catch up here:
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Hola, no time for salutations. I have a lot to fill you in on and so little time so it’ll be brief and (sorry Mike) probably not very funny.
-San Sebastian was great. There was cuddling and topless sunbathing and hamburgers, though not in that order. Except I did get my shoes dirty and broke my mom’s camera. (Hi, mommy! 🙂 You can have mine now, no worries). Oh, but everyone wanted to talk to us in English, and I will not look on the bright side of this (Kevin): I don’t think they wanted to help, I think they doubted my mad-sweet Spanish-talkin’ abilities.
-Laura from Madrid came to visit in Oviedo and we walked all the way out of town to go to a carnival/concert/party, which was great, but then we only had two hours of sleep before that day’s excursion, which was canoeing down a river. Laura was Team Resaca (“hangover”) with Dashiel and I was team Aviator with Kevin, but then later we were Team Turn-Around. The twins were Team Desnuda (“naked”). It was fun, and I totally didn’t even feel like throwing up from my resaca at all…once we got into the water.
-The program ended, and I definitely didn’t even get to go to that, because I had the worst resaca of all time, except that Fernando says it was probably an actual illness made worse by drinking the night before. So we’ll go with that. Like, I couldn’t even keep down water. And so then I missed the last day of school, which means I missed getting my diploma and missed the goodbye fiesta, and I missed saying goodbye to everyone and all of my teachers, and of course it was a really lovely day so I missed one last chance of playing violin on the street. Oh, and I won an award/scholarship for making the most of my time in Spain for learning purposes. Sweet, eh? Except I missed receiving it. I AM BATHING IN REGRET AND DESPAIR RIGHT NOW, AND THIS ISN’T ME BEING DRAMATIC, THIS IS LITERALLY HOW I FEEL!
-Oh, yeah, so I played violin in the streets 4 times and averaged about 30 euro/hour which is $50/hour, which is AWESOME. In total I made over 100 euro and I’m so American for telling you about the money I made. Or jewish. Or both. Also I recorded a song in a studio with a Spanish band, for which I was handsomely paid. Yeah, who’s doing these things? Because it doesn’t feel like me doing these things. I guess it’s like how last summer I built confidence through sports, except now it’s through music.
-Then I survived the Resaca of Death just enough to take a midnight-thirty bus to Madrid to meet Laura. That was last Saturday. So now I’m in Madrid, and crazy things have happened here, and here’s what they are:
~Laura and I went shopping, because in July all of Europe goes on sale, and I mean that literally. It’s called “Rebajas” and seriously EVERY store has a sign in the window about it and everything is, like, half off, and I’m not sure why. People shop like animals. It was great.
~MADRID WON THE EURO-CUP!!! And I watched it from Plaza de Colón, IN Madrid, and it was nuts, and Laura and I almost got stampeded to death when I fight broke out and this guy got a huge glass bottle smashed over his head and there was blood and panic and that was only, like, 15 minutes into the game. But then we moved, and then WE WON!!!!!!!!!!!!! And then all of Madrid partied all night, and we got a ride home from these guys we met and it was the scariest car-ride of my life and I had to keep thinking of new ways (in Spanish) to beg the driver to slow down. (Kevin: at one point I told him that I had ganas to live to see tomorrow)
~Also we met these two guys who go to frickin’ CAMBRIDGE and one is Irish and one is from Madrid and they’re cool, and we met them on the bus and then ran into them after the game, which was like, a one-in-a-zillion-trillion odds type of thing. That was a lucky night, actually, because we made friends with the scary drivers, who just happen to live in the same suburb as Laura, and we ran into our bus friends, and Spain WON, and we linked up with Dashiel and Dylan, and I found 20 euro in the street, which gave me enough money to call my bank and tell them to unlock my card (AGAIN. THOSE BITCHES. I HAD TO BE LIKE “SORRY TO BOTHER YOU AGAIN, BUT I’M STRANDED IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY WITH NO MONEY, AND THAT MIGHT BE YOUR FAULT. THREE TIMES.”)
~And the Irish guy’s name is Michael, and I’m going to Alicante with him, because his family has a house there and I can stay for free. Huzzah!
The end for now. I miss you all. I hope you’re having a horrible time without me.
p.s. Also, Mike sent me a package that contained: a koosh ball, a politically correct deck of cards for “war,” a Tiger Beat magazine, and a Guns-n-Ammo magazine. So he’s my new most favorite.
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I would totally not say that thing about talking about money because I’m American and Jewish if I wrote this today. Also I notice that I was a lot more exhuberant back then. Ah, youth. Stay tuned for more!
This one was by far my favorite, which is why I reproduced it verbatim in the zine. But I’m also still going to post it here, just because. So far you’ve only missed:
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¡¿Que tal, todo el mundo?! Speaking of which, ‘que tal’ is a phrase that is used all the time here (like ‘que pasa’), and yet none of us is quite sure what it means. It seems to mean both ‘how are you doing?’ and ‘how did it go?’ All I know is that if you reply ‘bien’ (‘well’), you’re in the clear. Maybe you can help me out on this one, Carolita.
In other news, Im broke. Well, not yet, but my money is basically just evaporating, and I think we all know that I’m far from being an extravagant spender. And I thought I was going to have this temporary nanny job in Madrid in July, but that didn’t pan out. So I’m going to try my hand at street-musician-hood (which is legal here…I´m pretty sure). There’s this older man who’s always playing his violin in the shopping district, and I’m about as good as he is, but I think I’ll play over near the cathedral, because I need to claim my own turf. And besides, I won’t need to use sheet music like he does, because I’ve got my shit MEMORIZED (and because I didn’t pack my stand).
Also, Beatriz just put on SO MUCH perfume. Like 15 spritzes. I don’t even know. I couldn’t count. But it smells good.
And now for some observations:
-When the cross-walk sign here goes from little green man to flashing little green man (before it’s little red man), it flashes, like, TWO TIMES. So there is no time to fool around and you have to run. However, the time between when the light turns red for the cars to stop and when the little green man appears for the ‘peatones’ (pedestrians) to go is FOREVER. It’s so long. And some people jaywalk while others don’t. I do if I’m in a hurry.
-The dogs here are full of personality. They’re all over the city and off the leash, just walking down the street with their owners like ‘Oh, hey, what´s up? Yeah, me? I´m just goin’ for a walk with my human pal, no biggie.’ It’s awesome. I want to steal one.
-All of the children here are immaculately dressed. They’ve all got cardigans and knee-high socks and leather shoes and it looks like from the forties but it’s now and I want to steal one of these, too. Dashiel says I should pick a young one so it won’t have memories of its parents.
-All of the grandmas in this city have their grandkids in the afternoon, out and about. All of them. Or so it seems.
-The word for refrigerator here is ‘frigerifico’ which translates to ‘fridgerific’ which translates to ‘awesome word.’ Almost as cool as ‘autostopista’ (hitch-hiker)
-and this one’s an anecdote: My mom here has this spray that she does in the kitchen after her boyfriend smokes a cigarette, or really just whenever she feels like it, and anything that isn’t on lockdown (i.e. in the refrigerator or sealed by me and not her) gets the spray in it and then it tastes and smells like chemicals for ever after. Like this turrón candy that she keeps pushing on me. Or the sandwich bread. The other night she made me a ham and cheese sandwich and it tasted like poison, so I was trying to eat as little as possible while still being polite, and then she offered to toast it, which either evaporated the chemically-ness or just singed it deeper into the food, but either way I ate it and I’m too wussy to be like ‘Listen, Beatriz, it’s about the slow poisoning that you’re accidentally imposing on us…’
And now it’s midnight and I need to go to bed because I have to get up at 6ish to catch a bus to Bilbao. Woo! This is our free weekend, and I’m going to Bilbao and then to San Sebastian with the twins and a quiet boy named Kevin. We did fake interviews in pairs today in conversation class (in Spanish), and we all had to draw a famous person’s name out of a hat for who the interviewee would be. I was the interviewer in my pair and Katrina was Madonna. We won. She just kept saying ‘Madonna IS Kabalah, she IS yoga’ and I guess I did a good job of being the caring/concerned host (‘¿Cómo estás, Madonna? ¿Cómo. Es. TÁS?’). Kevin was Cookie Monster, and he played it totally straight, like ‘Well, I usually just hang around Sesame Street with my friends, Elmo and Oscar–he lives in the trash–and we count to ten, or we talk about different letters, like M, or maybe S.’ I thought I was going to pee my pants.
And that´s all for now! Oh, there’s so much more to write about! Later, though, later. I love you all! ¡Hasta luego!
p.s. Those of you who are receiving this for the first time: Yeah, that’s because I decided you should recieve this now.
Need to catch up? So far you’ve only missed:
¡Hola, Todo el Mundo! So, tomorrow I will have been here for a week, and that´s interesting and strange for me to think about. I oscillate back and forth between feeling like ‘I have plenty of time and so much has happened already and it´s only been a week and I still have four more weeks here to do so many other things and I´m going to learn so much!’ and like ‘A week has already passed and there´s still so much to do and I´m running out of time and I´m not going to be able to do everything that I want and I´m not learning nearly enough and I´m not going to learn hardly anything!’ You know, but that´s just me, and Beatriz assures me that I´m already speaking so much better, and I know that I´m comprehending a ton more.
But I should point out that both Beatriz and my professor thank it´s funny that, as well as we speak (in level four), none of us knows basic vocab, like for the names of different articles of clothing, or the names of animals. I don´t know, I´ve just never learned that stuff and never really needed to know it before. So I´m gaining lots of vocab.
We all sort of feel like kids again though. I´ll tell you how my days go, and then you´ll see. I wake up and get ready and Beatriz is already up and has layed out breakfast like in those cereal commercials where they´re like ‘part of a complete breakfast,’ and you´re like ‘I thought cereal WAS a complete breakfast…’ Then she gives me a snack to take to school, and then I walk to school with this girl named Jeanine and then I have school from 9:30 to 2, and in school we learn the names of animals and how to descibe people´s faces and we play games. Then after school everyone goes home to eat lunch with their families and I eat with Beatriz and we watch the news and chat about the world and our days (I guess that part is a bit more adult). Then I take a nap, and then I practice violin, and then I hang out with my friends until dinner (at 10). Then I come home, eat dinner and chat with Beatriz and Eusebio (her novio). And then I do my homework and go to bed. I feel about twelve.
The exception is last night, though, when we drank beer. The majoritiy of the students in my program want to party, and a lot of the dudes are on a perpetual quest for weed, and I keep having to explain that ‘I´m a prude and I may have a beer but I´m not going to get drunk.’ Last night we wound up at a bar with all of the other students (something we´ve been trying to avoid), and they were WASTED and LOUD, and it sucked. There´s about 4 others who (like the twins and I) don´t want to party, but even that turns me off, because I know I won´t make any Spanish friends in such a large group, and that´s what I really want. Sometimes I even feel stifled with just me and the twins. So I´m going to start taking afternoon walks by myself to try and meet some Spanish kids (if it ever stops RAINING!).
Okay, really long e-mail, so I guess this is enough for now. ¡Hasta Luego!
p.s. Mom, can you forward this to Steve. I lost his e-mail address already. Also, can you send whatever Netflix just came for me back? I put my account on hold, but that doesn´t go into effect until they get that back. Thank you!
p.p.s Spanish speakers: today we went on an excursion, and I was like ‘Man, I want to hacer me some senderismo’ Thought that was funny.
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Stay tuned for more blasts from the past!
¡Hola de España!
So here I am. In Buenos Aires. On my own. And I kind of dig it. It’s been a while since I’ve had an adventure of this magnetude–travelling alone in a country that I know almost nothing about, with only the vaguest of plans and intentions. It reminds me of the first time I did this, in Spain. Allow me to set the scene:
Summer 2008. I am 23 years old. I have been out of the country only once before, to visit whitney for 10 days in Paris. I arrive in Madrid, catch a taxi fromt he airport to the bus station, buy a ticket headed north, and am on my way to Oviedo. All within the space of about an hour. I feel good about this trip, because of course I speak Spanish, and of course I will make friends with whom I can travel for 3 weeks, after the 5 week intensive Spanish language course ends. Right?
WRONG. My Spanish was not EVEN what I thought it was. And I wound up travelling alone, making hostel reservations for only one city ahead. Kissing strange boys. Busking. And I kept in touch with mass emails to my family and friends, and then I came home and made a zine about it. So, if you put those two things together, it’s kind of like littlesarahBigWorld. The beta version. Now, for your viewing and reading pleasure, I present you with those original emails and pages scanned from the first ever READ ME zine (of which there are…two. Whatevs). Enjoy!
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Hi family and friends! Wow, already it´s a bit dificult to write in English. I am in Spain!!!!! I arrived in Madrid yesterday morning at nine (one am in Utah time). There was almost no wait to get my bags and change my money and whatnot (the exchange rate! ¡Ay! 50 US dollars is, like, 30 Euros). By ten I had already caught a taxi to the bus station, purchased a ticket, and I was on the bus to Oviedo. I wanted so badly to stay awake on the bus, because the scenery was gorgeous, but I literally could not force my eyes open. I arrived in Oviedo at 3:30 and had 4 hours to kill. Oh, Moms (or Dad): I will contact Mountain America, but if you guys could also call and tell them that I´m in Spàin and that I´m not a theif and to un-freeze me account, because right now I have NO MONEY!
Mi familia is a single woman named Beatriz. She lives alone, but she has a boyfriend that comes over to eat dinner and chat with us. His name is Eusepio. They both talk very fast (faster than the other moms, like Katrina´s), and I´ve already dug myself into a rut by pretending to understand what they´re saying and now I guess I´ll just have to go with that. I understand about half. Sorry, I feel like there´s so much to say, and I´m having a hard time expressing myself in an orderly fashion. Today was the first day of classes, and from now on we will have classes from 9:30 to 2, with a short break from 11 to 11:30. Today we took a test and they divided us into four levels. I am in the fourth level!!! Estoy en el nivel mas avansada. The Cutrubi are in the third level, but I don´t know why, because I think they speak as well as I do. Their friend, Daschel (who is now my friend, as well) is in level four, along with about 8 others, including a boy who already did this exact program two years ago and is so cocky that´s it´s difficult to even be in the same room as him. Tomorrow is the first REAL day of classes, and I´m a little nervous but mostly excited.
What else…? Well, so far the only totally crazy thing about life in Oviedo is that my house (and other´s, like Krystal´s) only has ONE GARBAGE, and it´s in the kitchen. So, you know, what if I have lady problems? Or what about my used q-tips and floss? Am I supposed to just tote those things into the kitchen? I guess so.
I really like Beatriz. She´s never been married and has no children. She´s 54, but seems much younger and is very metropolitan. Oviedo is absolutely gorgeous, and very clean for a city (not as clean as Salt Lake, but much cleaner than New York–sorry Judy). The weather pattern here (so far) is sunny and clear in the morning, and then cloudy skies and moderate rain from 3 to 8. Then it´s clear and a bit chilly at night. But it´s fairly warm during the days, even when it´s raining.
I get really tired in the afternoons, because that´s when it´s night in Utah. Today I had my first Spanish hot chocolate, and it was very thick (like a syrup), but not as sweet as you´d think.
It´s strange to be here–strange because it´s NOT strange, because it feels only a bit different, like starting a new job. My firs wow-I´m-in-Spain moment was today when Krystal, Katrina, Daschel and I went to a restaurant and ordered in Spanish lke it was nothing. Oh, and I keep getting lost, because–although the streets all have names–there are few street signs. So people will tell you to turn right on Calle Uria, but then you don´t know which is Calle Uria.
Mom and Beth, I need your cell number. For some reason, my cell phone won´t turn on (somebody spilled water on it…Cody…). Once you give me your number, I can tell you how to call me here. And don´t forget to yell at MOuntain America. Oh, and does anybody have e-mail for Natalie or Eric? I don´t.
Okay, I´m going to go now. It´s about 11:30, and I need to be at the school at 9:30. I miss you all so much (especially Sebastian and Rosie and, of course, Chi). Sorry for the mass e-mail, but if you send me (short) personal responses and questions, I will send you a (short) personal e-mail. Thank you to everyone who helped to get me here! My Spanish is already so much better, and I can´t even imagine how it will be in 8 weeks. I love you all dearly! ¡Adios!
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Stay tuned for more dispatches from the littlesarah of FOUR YEARS AGO. What?! Time’s a cookie, Friends.