So I’m going to write this down before I forget it all again.
Friday. The taxi-man was scheduled to come at 5:30, but because I tend to overthink everything and want to make sure I have more than enough time I woke up at 4. Eat breakfast, stuff everything in your backpack, worry incessantly for a while. It’s seriously just a kind of problem I have. What if I forget something vital? Did I pack my toothbrush? Where’s my passport? How much will taxi fare be?
The tax-man arrived and called me on my phone. I was probably downstairs as fast as was humanly possible (can’t keep your transportation waiting after all). Once I got inside the taxi I could let go of some tension, and I sort of flopped onto the back seat and sighed a huge sigh of relief. The taxi-man was very amused. We chatted all the way to the airport, with him asking questions and me answering them and him telling me some of his life story. I really need to work on asking questions myself.
Taxi-fare ended up being a whopping 40 Euros or something like that. I’m not sure if I got conned of not, seeing as how this was the first time I’ve ever been in a taxi by myself. (Flashback to Chicago a bunch of years ago. Mmm, clam chowder…) I entered the airport and was surprised there weren’t any sparrows living in it… because the airport in Detroit is a haven for all sorts of wildlife. I wandered around for a bit until I figured out where my pals from OpenMind would be and reached them without getting irretrievably lost. This makes the whole ordeal sound super labyrinthium and stuff, but I’m pretty sure it was just my mind turning everything into a rat maze.
I meet the coordinator Carmen, a new girl named Siri, and an acquaintance of mine named Christina. We’re all quiet because it’s pretty early in the morning and we manage to get onto the plane. Not before the security takes away my shampoo bottle, though. The specifics were “less than 100ml” and I’m sure there were only about 50ml left in the bottle, but apparently because it has a capacity of 500ml and still had liquid in it, it was taken to be a dangerous weapon of some sort. No problem, shampoo isn’t that good for your hair anyway.
Plane ride uneventful, except that I got to see the “Sicherheitsballet” that I’d read about. And then the power went out during that and the stewardesses stood around smiling hugely while the emergency lights flickered on. That wasn’t too reassuring but it turned out to have no effect whatsoever on our flying experience.
When we arrived in Santiago, we had to wait a few hours… we played Uno and imitated the accents of people speaking over the loudspeakers. Then we finally meet the other 3 participants, two boys and a girl. It was awkward cheek-kissing and such, except possibly for everyone but me, seeing as how they all already knew each other. I got some fat respect from them all on account of being American.
Take a bus to Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral there really is impressive. I’m no architect, but just thinking that these kinds of structures take hundreds of years to finish is really, simply, brain-meltingly ASTONISHING. SUCH PATIENCE. I mean, I get frustrated and rage-quit after 10 minutes of not being able to Altaïr well enough to my liking. I’m pretty sure people used to be much more patient than they are today.
We wandered around that little town for a while and found a Chocolate Factory. Mm, it smelled delicious. I was going to buy a chocolate chicken but then my wallet said “No!” I was very disappointed about this. It smelled fantastic though.
Then it was bus bus bus time to get to our rented house. While the bus is getting there I will expound a little bit on all the participants…
Alina: dark-skinned, with a head of pin-straight dark hair that pretty much looked perfect all the time. She had a really “best friend” kind of relationship with Christian. Not that they were in love or anything, they were basically just twin souls. Very direct in her speech, though possibly only because she was glad to complain in German about the things that annoyed her without having the coordinators (who only spoke Spanish and English) having any sort of idea of what she was talking about. Not really the sort of girl I’d choose to hang out with if I had the choice, but super nice. She was funny and thought I was funny, for whatever reason. She had incredible skill with the Feminine Art of Doing Things To Hair.
Christian: hugely tall and robust (marshmallowy somehow) with dirty-blonde hair and blue eyes. Apparently a huge fan of German reality TV shows (think Jersey Shore and Wife Swap). Also absolutely comfortable with saying pretty much anything he felt like saying. Owner of one of those more professional looking cameras, with which he probably snapped close to a thousand pictures of us. He was very talkative, which was okay because we, being a cobbled-together group of adolescents, were mainly awkward penguins with each other at the beginning. I’m not really exactly sure how much I liked him; I appreciated his interest in me and his ability to keep things from getting awkward, as well as his humor. I think it was only the last night where he was acting a bit volatile.
Siri: owner of super-long hair and the frequent victim of Alina for hair shenanigans. Also a fellow artist, which I appreciated a lot. She did a lot of realistic medieval stuff, and I admire her patience with shading and backgrounds. Also super nice (all of the girls were) and skilled in making things with nature. She made Alina a lovely crown made out of Gänseblümchen (Gooseflowers?) and could whistle with grass and all that jazz.
Lukas: curly black mop of hair, also owner of an epic camera. Much more quiet. He didn’t really eat a lot until the coordinators showed up with a huge casserole dish full of noodles. Then he had about 4 helpings of that. He did tell of having problems in the beginning with the food in his host family. The food is apparently super delicious, but the family was appalled by how much he ate or something and then there were shenanigans. I have the feeling he wasn’t really comfortable during this vacation.
Christina: wavy blonde hair and blue eyes. She’s the one I’ve been acquainted with for a while now, and probably was the quietest girl next to me. Her family has a lot of “little kid food”, as she calls it, and her host mom makes paella filled with mussels even though she’s made clear she doesn’t like them.We have plans to find a spa here in Madrid sometime.
Rebecca: socially awkward brunette with blonde tips. Occasionally at a loss as to what on Earth everyone else is talking about. She probably ate the most food and hung out the most with the coordinators. She also managed to deal with the 12 year old girl one of the coordinators/women had brought with her, humoring her while pretty much everyone else who spoke German was complaining about her presence. She also learned a few tips about hair from Alina and Christina, because she knows pretty much nothing other than ponytails.
Okay! The house was absolute awesomeness. We girls got three rooms, the boys got one upstairs. We girls immediately decided to share one room with two beds, just because we can. Amazingly, we did actually manage to sleep. Fancy that.
I think I’m going to miss the showers the most… in Madrid my showerhead is sort of weak. The showerhead there was like a Niagara Falls of water and it was the best thing ever. I will also miss the impressive tea selection that was available. And the beds, because my feet didn’t hang over the edge.
Spanish lesson deciphering common Spanish phrases that have to do with animals. The others were not very happy with the fact of lessons, but I was actually pretty bro with the idea.
Saturday was wet and cold and rain and we ended up being bussed around to Portugal and Tui. We saw a wine vineyard and more churchy buildings and stone villages that were pretty but would probably be much more appealing in summer. The day ended with us trudging around some random city that was made up of stores selling towels. I am not even making this stuff up. The only things being sold were towels, baby clothes, and the occasional pair of socks, as far as the eye could see. Fruitlessly we searched for a mini-supermarket or something to buy some apples, but the town wasn’t having any of it and just kept offering towel after towel after towel. I bought myself some big camouflage socks there because pajamas need socks too.
Yesterday the weather was absitively posolutely beautiful. The sun was shining. It was a little cold, but SUN. SUN SUN SUN SUN SUN. Yes. Just so much yes. We spent the morning doing Spanish lessons and basically lounging around outside the house, breathing in fresh air and absorbing sun and having flower-garlands made. We then ended up at the ocean somehow, which was even more yes. I took off my shoes and jumped around on the shell-boulder beach like some sort of awed goat. I think if I lived there (wherever we were) I wouldn’t get anything done. I would just lie on the boulders and let the waves wash every single thought right out of my head.
In the boulders I found a pool of water that contained fresh water and tadpoles. I was surprised. Tadpoles? Next to the ocean? What kind of frog lives next to the ocean? But I guess it’s not that important. I was delighted and that’s what counts.
This morning we got up at 5 to go to the airport… I think we could have slept a lot longer, because we had to wait a long time at the airport for our flight to arrive. But I understand that the program doesn’t want anybody missing their flight.
So THAT was a relatively huge undertaking you just finished there….
I’m only going to eat vegetables and salad and basically healthy things for at least a week. Because that’s the only way to get rid of the sick bloaty feeling I have from gorging myself on the edible food that was presented to us during our stay. Though I do have to wonder why I ate so much of the noodle casserole when my mother’s is so much better.
AHYES it’s super possible I’ll be going skiing with my host family! I hope this occurs because funfunfun and also more chances for Mawk to almost kill herself. Good times all around, right?