Hola amantes y amigos. (“Hello lovers and friends.”) I’ve made it. I’ve really made it.
It was a long day of travel; that’s for sure. I was up by 5:30AM on Sunday to shower & pack the last minute things and, of course, to make one last Alterra trip at 7:00AM once Humboldt opened up. Then it was out to New Berlin so my parents could taxi us all down to Chicago, since my flight left out of O’Hare. With a small layover in D.C., I finally got to Madrid’s Barajas airport at 7:00AM this morning. (Spain is +7 hours ahead of Milwaukee.)
Long international flights are always a weird thing. For one? 99.9% of the time I do not sleep while in transit to somewhere, no matter what the mode of transportation is. This held true for this flight, and instead, I watched three romantic comedies on the in-flight entertainment; got told I look like I’m 19 (LOL, wut? That’s honestly never happened before.); and got called “sir” by the same male flight attendant … TWICE. (Don’t worry - United already got an email about the insensitive nature of this employee. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t sting any less. Oh, ignorance.)
After waiting in the sweltering sauna that is the baggage claim area in Madrid, I split a taxi into town with a girl who was on the plane with me. Gotta love random quick bonding moments with strangers! She knew no Spanish, so it snapped me into Spanish-speaking mode fast, communicating with the taxi driver for the both of us, etc. This is what I love about being forced back into a Spanish speaking community; you get a huge adrenaline rush when you have to push yourself to speak all in a second language, and it’s incredibly rewarding when people understand you (and are understanding that your Spanish isn’t perfect).
I dropped my bags off at my hostel, THC Latina Hostel, en La Latina barrio (“neighborhood”) of Madrid, and decided to hunt for wi-fi until I could check in at noon. I probably looked hella crazy. Goodness knows I felt disgusting after being up for 24 hours and on an airplane for a large majority of that time. I drank what probably seemed like a lot of coffee at multiple cafés to kill time (until I realized finally that one of them had wi-fi so I could call home and let people know I was safe), but in reality, I was just trying to not fall asleep in public.
España is home of the long shot of espresso, which is fine and what I expected (this being my fourth time here). Café culture is huge, and everyone drinks coffee, but if only they could taste what my work compadres and I do at Alterra … But they don’t know what good espresso tastes like, because very few people get coffee without milk in it. (Un café con leche is always espresso and milk, and un café is just espresso. There really is no such thing as brewed coffee here. Unless it’s instant. Which is terrifying and another battle altogether.) Alas, there is no use in trying to change their minds, because if there’s one thing the Spanish love, it’s tradition. BUT, I cannot wait to check out TOMA Café tomorrow, because if there’s one legit coffee place in all of Spain, I’m 99.9% certain this is it. My friend Bem, who did the program this past year, ended up hanging out there and doing videography work for them, so I’m excited to see what it’s all about before I venture southwards tomorrow.
Once I finally got into the hostel, I was so relieved that the photos of my private room (with private bathroom, shower, sink, TV, wi-fi and TWO balconies) that I had seen online when booking were spot on, and the room was just as beautiful, if not more so, in person. It’s been the perfect place (other than a café I found while meandering about today and went to twice) to wash the travel scuzz off, finally catch some ZZZs and figure out my game plan for this week.
In other exciting news, there is now a high likelihood that I actually will be living in Sevilla and finding other teachers to carpool with to Valverde del Camino when I have to teach. I found another girl who is teaching in VdC, but at the high school, and that’s her game plan, so I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to find a carpool situation, so we can live together in Sevilla. While I truthfully feel like España is the closest thing I have to home after Wisconsin, Sevilla is really my home-away-from-home. I got to know that city very well studying there three years ago, and it’s maintained a special, special place in my heart ever since. I was looking at apartments tonight, and I got really excited, so keep your fingers crossed that this all works out!
I’m trying to wind down for the night, and I’m not sure if I’ll actually be able to sleep, given my kind of long nap this afternoon, but we’ll see! I have to be up early tomorrow to have ample time at TOMA in the morning before my bus to VdC. Here’s to hoping that I find a better wi-fi connection tomorrow, too, so I can actually finally wrap up the freelance writing work I had been working away at before I left the fine city of Milwaukee.
I shall leave you with this: I’m so excited to be here. I love being back in Spain. My heart is so happy. I can’t wait to share it with y’all.
Un besito. (“A little kiss.”)