I was set to leave … said goodbye to my parents in the Chicago airport as we sipped on the last fountain Coke I’d have for 3 whole months. (That’s torture for me, if you didn’t know.) It was difficult, but easier than I thought it would be. As I walked to the gate, I tried not to look back, but, like Lot’s wife, I couldn’t resist. Luckily, I remain me, and not a pillar of salt.
September 11, 9/11, was 8 years ago, my dream reminded me. I saw the day clearly, the biology classroom, the TVs, the hallways crowded with throngs of chattering students. Today, I was completely different, so far away from that girl I’d been then, a 14 year-old child. The world, too, was quite unlike it was then, although the sun shone just as brightly in the morning sky. Some things never change.
The captain’s voice came suddenly, softly, almost apologetically, over the loudspeakers. “Good morning, this is your captain speaking.” Morning, I thought, should not enter the picture six hours earlier due to international travel. He prattled on a bit more about the usual things, seatbelts and tray tables and carry-on items. I was really just ready for the damn thing to land already. I considered any flight over three hours to be torture, pure and simple. This flight, eight hours long, was on my list of things not to be repeated, if at all possible. Nevertheless, I was in SPAIN! (Once again.)
Awww, Spain, nothing can beat your café con leche nor your vino tinto. Also, you’ve got a pretty good grip on that whole sunshine thing.
Salamanca was everything I’d hoped for and more: a university city, made vibrant and colorful by its large student population; a mixture of the new and the ancient; full of cathedrals, palaces, and churches; gothic, romanesque, and baroque architecture; tapas bars; and last but not least, home to some of the purest castellano there is. I needed real help there, although I was blissfully unaware of my strong (really) American accent.
Anyway, I was once again in love with Spain, its narrow, twisting streets, ceceo, and the art of going to a café to tomar algo (a.k.a. go and get a coffee/beer/soda). One day, I was minding my own business at work, when I heard someone knocking at the door. I admit, I was a bit short with said person, as I wasn’t sure who they were, let alone why they were knocking at the door on a Friday afternoon (what we call evening, after 5 PM). Who was that person? Stay tuned … for part 5!