Wandering always brings along the most beautiful people.
March 20, 2012 § Leave a comment
Within hours of arriving in Spain, we had dropped gear at the hostel and met the only other guy in our room, Dominic. He and I are about the same age and he was just on a weekend away from the town within Spain where he lives and teaches English. Because this is my life, it’s the same town that Beth Parent was visiting for the first part of her trip. They, almost literally, traded places.
He is a quiet spirit that, you can tell, really appreciates people. And stories. A short while after meeting up with him, we stumbled across Mercado de San Miguel. And, y’all, we ate at that thing every day.
(Video of el mercado. As usual in videos, I squeal.)
Booths line the walls where you can purchase wine, or gelato, or hand-carved ham (literally, right off the leg that is anchored down in front of you) (which was kind of awesome and disgusting all at the same time), bocadillos, croquettes, coffee, you name it. And while it wasn’t the cheapest place we ate at, it was all of incredible quality and proved easy to ensure that everyone ate something they enjoyed. The wine never hurt, either.
I absolutely loved it.
After a couple of months of living somewhere I can’t really afford the great food, I was in foodie heaven. Yes, heaven. I made sure not to have anything more than once (except the wine).
Then, on Sunday, we. met. Marta.
(I totally just sighed out loud.)
If you don’t know, I really love wandering. I’ve shared rides with friends I wouldn’t have had otherwise, thanks to Craigslist (Hey, Dawn Marie! You’re beautiful!). There’s also been many a time when some friend had a friend who had a spare floor or couch in whatever city I’ll be in.
It’s incredible to live life like this. You meet the most beautiful people.
Marta, a host who contacted me through CouchSurfing, has just proven the point again. Her gracious spirit opened up her apartment and couch to me for three nights and she is now half the reason I love Madrid so much. At least half. Maybe more. As a result of her efforts, we went to a language exchange at an Irish bar where I stumbled through my Spanish for over two hours. You want the new definition of exhausted? Try to explain to a fellow anthropologist the importance and validity of forensics and how it should be under the umbrella of anthropology IN SPANISH.
It was awesome.
She took us to great food and, despite her heavy work schedule, she came out for beers and paella and we even met up with some other couchsurfers! Her laughter is infectious and she has a spirit that radiates with kindness.
It’s like I met my sister from another life.
God bless the internet.
On Sunday, we also said good-bye to Dominic and two guys from upstate New York, Paul and Chris, checked in (Kent stayed at the hostel). The subject of photography got mentioned and Paul & I were off to the races. Kent and Chris began discussing whiskey and the bonding was finished faster than I could snap my fingers. We spent nearly the rest of our time in Madrid with the two of them and they greatly amplified the experience.
With any luck, Paul will be coming to visit us in Prague next month.
Seriously, WANDER. You can do this in America, too!
Monday night, after meeting up with some fellow CouchSurfers at a bar not far from the hostel, they invited us to another bar. It was only midnight something, so…(shrug), sure! We took our sweet time wandering through the wide, wide alleyways around Puerta del Sol, talking, laughing, and being ridiculous. A student from Venezuela, Willians, was amongst the group and his English was limited and my Spanish was limited, but we managed to have a great time trying to keep up with our merry band of travelers. We arrived at the bar, the name of which I still don’t know, and it felt like a Friday night. There was reasonably priced beer, a ton of college kids, awesome loud music, and us. Marta, and her gorgeous self, took my bag (with my CAMERA) home so that I could stay.
Around 130am, a song came on that, apparently, is very popular en España. Don’t ask me what the name of it is because I’ve got no clue. Our little group was altogether and everyone, but me and the New Yorkers, knew every. single. word. As I stood there, in this random little bar, in the middle of Spain, dancing with a Venezuelan while everyone around me sang at the top of their lungs, I couldn’t stop beaming.
This, I thought, is a little bit of what heaven must be like.
Can I just stay here for a little while? Moments like this usually only happen in my dreams.
It totally made up for the fact that at 2something am I realized my keys to Marta’s amazing apartment were in the bag she took with her. So, I dropped 30USD to stay at the hostel for 4.5 hours to get some sort of sleep.
Becaaaaaaaause I HAD to get to Marta’s before she left for work at 8am to ensure that things would run smoothly for the 1pm arrival of Beth Parent(!!!!!!). Paul, who is so so great, set alarms and climbed out of his bunk to wake me at 7am for my journey to Ibiza. Mornings and I do not get along, but it was magical to be out so early. At 730am, deliveries were just being made at restaurants, almost nothing was open, and I got to see a side of Madrid that so few experience.
Sans headphones, I was greeted by kind, older men opening their stores. I got to listen to the women at the panadería laugh while they baked causing my nose to encounter some of the most amazing smells ever as I passed by. A violinist was playing in the metro. And Marta thought I had been out having the time of my life when she saw I was not on the couch.
She was right.