¡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.