Arriving in Spain Solo

I made it. Travel days are the worstttt. And I always seem to forget that when it comes to the whole transplanting your life overseas thing. Between the anxiety of not knowing what you’re going to get when you get there, and the lack of sleep, it’s a shock to the system.

After a few hours of scrambling Thursday morning (accompanied by an additional 10 pounds of crap to my luggage…) my parents drove me to the airport. And let me tell you, it’s a strange bittersweet thing. The longest I’ve ever gone without seeing my parents was England, 2012, and it was for four months. My family has always been close. We do Sunday night dinners, family vacations, stalk one another around the world on our Life 360… So the idea of leaving them for a year was a bit overwhelming.

The thing of it is, despite having months to both physically and mentally prepare for a year abroad, you really don’t grasp it until you’re there. Add only two hours of sleep to the equation and you begin to feel a bit…desperate. And like you’ve just jumped when you should have stood still.

My day went like this:

2:15 pm departure to Boston, 2 1/2 hour layover. 5:45 pm flight to Madrid. 6:00 am arrival in Madrid, 10:45 am bus to Logroño. 3:15 pm arrival in Logroño. Taxi to Air BnB. Arrive and realize I don’t have my hosts actual apartment number so I can’t buzz up, and I don’t have a working phone.

Self-assurance, let me introduce you to panic.

I choose numbers at random, angering two individuals in the building who neither knew my hostess name, or if they did, didn’t care. And then I stood there, looking up at the heavens, considering which might come first-tears or a plan. Just then a woman came around the corner and stopped in front of the door to the apartment building.

Not only did she know my host, she was also staying with her. God acts in mysterious ways, and he only made me wait twenty minutes to prove it. Albeit in a panic.

I walked around after a two-hour nap, though I didn’t wander far for fear of getting lost. At one point I stopped to let a car pass (it being the road and all) and this woman blows by me and yells, “Vamos!,” which means “Come on!” She looked back at me and gave me a puzzled smile- like why on earth would you stop for a car? Yes, because I’m the crazy one. So I learned very quickly that we don’t stop for cars here, they stop for us. Or at least we hope they do.

My meal the first night. When you don’t really know Spanish but you know “vino.”

Enter Day 2.

Today I slept till noon, and my host (at my AirBnB) woke me up for some cafe and toast. I tried to tell her in broken Spanish that I was planning on spending the day trying to find un piso. My host unfortunately doesn’t speak English at all, and so she began to expressively tell me what I’m sure was amazing information about finding an apartment. Only, of course, I understood very little of it.

“Entiendas?” Me, miserably, “No.” “Ah, claro, un momento.” And she walks away to make a phone call.

Turns out, a week earlier another young girl was staying here and spoke both English and Spanish. My host asked if she might come over and assist her other young friend (that’s me) with finding un piso.

It’s a powerful feeling finding a friend when you don’t have any. Especially one that speaks the language. With her help I was able to obtain a card for my phone so it will work over here, meet a few others doing a similar program to mine, and enjoy my first meal of tapas.

El Camino de Santiago is also currently happening, and so one of her friends was actually passing through Logroño today and stopped by to enjoy a drink with us.

It was gorgeous today, sunny with a nice breeze. Most of the streets are also in shadow past noon because of the way the streets are built up, and there is outdoor seating everywhere. The Concatedral de Santa Maria De La Redona is kind of the center of all the activity, and an amazing way to pinpoint your way around. I also witnessed two weddings coming out of it today! The Spanish dress amazinggg for weddings- long silky dresses or tons of chiffon, with flowers or little hats on their heads. And the heels. I’ve never seen such skill of stiletto-wearing woman on cobblestone. Incredibly impressive.

As far as cities goes, Logroño is a nice size, not too big and not too small. It’s very clean, too.

I have yet to find a place to live, which is a bit stressful, but I am beginning to feel slightly better about my leap.

One of the weddings coming out of the church. They set off noise makers and little exploding things of confetti while throwing rice into the air. It was quite the reception.