Oviedo Travel Blog› entry 4 of 14 › view all entries
We just had a late lunch and it’s siesta time, so that means it’s blog time for me! I just realized…the Spanish really do siesta (at least they do in this house). Thank goodness, I could use one.
So, I had a really witty title idea for this post…it was a phrase I heard Spanish, but I already forgot it. That’s the story of my life thus far…I’ve been trying to just let all the language bounce through my ears and pick up what I can, make note of what I remember, and let the rest come to me later. I think I’ll break up my trip and everything since my arrival in Oviedo so as not to write the world’s longest blog entry. (Can I just say how terrible this Spanish-only thing is going to be for my English? I had to retype ‘phrase’ from ‘frase’, ‘I already forgot it’ from ‘ya se me olvidé’, and ‘English’ from ‘ingles’.) It’s the pattern I’m noticing with my brain at the moment…forgetting todoeverything. The past two days have seemed like eternities and I don’t know where to begin! Luckily, I wrote in my paper journal while I was sitting in the airport (for six hours, mind you) waiting for my bus to come. Let me say that I am so glad that I am no longer waiting in Barajas airport. Longest six hours ofmi vida my life.
Honestly, the transatlantic flight wasn’t bad at all! It did not feel like seven hours. I did sleep often, though not very well – enough to survive and not have much jet lag at all. When I boarded the flight I was a bit terrified…not of the flying, but of the sinking in that I was going transatlantic and staying for a while. I tried to grasp to a memory that could help me relate, but my trip to Europe with BLFAC was 12 years ago and it seemed much more intangible, much more dream-like. So I just went with it. I was lucky that no one was sitting next to me, so I had two seats to sprawl across, and I went in and out of slumber while watching Harry Potter 7.2 and listening to the spa and new age music channels. I felt a little vulnerable starting in the terminal in Philadelphia, noticing that everyone around me had red Spanish passports and there were maybe three or four of us with blue United States passports. I realized I was entering someone else’s domain. I was a bit emotional from the entire preparation of this whole trip, not knowing what to expect, what to pack, etc. I talked to my parents, Ethan, Celery, and Blair throughout the day that I left, and so I was all choked up every time I hung up with someone. On the plane, I read from the October 2011 General Conference issue of the Ensign…I only read a few talks, but they brought me SO much comfort, and I’m so glad I brought it with me. Elder Scott’s talk about the scriptures wasn’t one I’d usually cling to, but his constant declaration that scriptures are stalwart friends and bring peace and joy without limitations of calendars or geographic borders…just what I needed.
As predicted, I’m absolutely great now that I’m here and settled. The journey was so long, you would’ve thought I was going on an African safari or something. I had a 90 minute flight SLC to Phoenix, a 4.5 hour flight Phoenix to Philadelphia, and a 6.75 hour flight Philadelphia to Madrid, with an hour layover in between each. In Madrid, I arrived around 8:30am and was completely lethargic about getting my luggage. I felt a little ‘off’ and realized what a wreck I was. I smelled like that nasty travel smell…you know, somewhere between handled luggage, airplane, unshowered skin, and city grime…and I was in layers of shirts that wouldn’t fit in my suitcase so I was sweaty yet freezing. After passing through customs (which, by the way, had NO line, and where they spoke to me in Spanish only), and waiting for my luggage, I was looking around for some sign of a restroom while getting lost in a daze of Spanish floating around me. I noticed that my bra was somehow no longer attached around my body in any way and I also felt completely sick and clueless when I realized that many signs I saw used vocabulary that I had never learned or which I dismissed because it was different Spanish than what we learned in school. The moment reminded me of the movie “The Best Two Years” when Elder Cahoon hears Dutch in the Netherlands for the first time and asks what language they are speaking. Anyway…I found the aseo and had fun the numerous times I used the facility, as I had mastered the art of pulling my two suitcases and overflowing backpack with me into the stall. Soon enough I was brave enough to seek out Terminal 4 for the bus stop, realizing that I had to shuttle over there and hoping I was doing it properly. The first shuttle I approached wasn’t leaving yet so the drivers told me to take the one more in front (is that even English grammar? I have no idea…). Aside from the fact that I was in Spain where Spanish was spoke, I was such a ditz and was wondering why people would assume I spoke Spanish…did I look like an española? Did I look like I spoke it well? I had no idea. Looking back, everything was dreamy.
I found myself a ledge in T4 to plant myself and my ridiculous amounts of baggage. Note to the US: the luggage trolleys are FREE in other countries. At first, I didn’t accept one when offered after a stare-down with an old man. I thought it would cost me, and as much as I don’t want to admit it because it may be stupid…I had NO euros with me. I only had my cards. After dragging my stuff around with me for hours, I found a stray trolley (the second time…the first time I tried to move one and it didn’t move…I thought it was broken, but I just didn’t press down on the lock bar) and stole it for my own use. And then the world started growing blurry and I felt like I had just finished running on a treadmill or bouncing on a trampoline for an hour…
…I was dehydrated. Oh, was I ever. I tried to stay hydrated on the plane, but I wasn’t too successful because I had no idea how long I’d have to wait for a bathroom once in Madrid (I thought perhaps it would cost me euros to use one). I found the nearest cafe and had no idea about ordering. I’m sure most airport workers speak English, but I didn’t want to assume, and if I was going to do this, I was going to do this. I didn’t know if it was normal to just order a water, so I got a bocadillo con jamón ibérico and a water. It cost me 7,25 euros, and when I paid with my card it took forever and I was paralyzed in fear thinking Wells Fargo didn’t change my travel strategy yet and it wouldn’t work. I was certain I would die. Let me say, that ham was DELICIOUS. It wasn’t ham…it was like pancetta or prosciutto…the stuff we pay $20/lb. for in the United States. And the crusty baguette? Oh delicious. I tried to conserve the water, but it didn’t last long and I didn’t want to spend another $3 USD for a small bottle of water, so I waited. I read through another talk and decided to write in my journal to distract myself from the dehydration. It was too much. Everything was blurry, I was getting really nauseated and thought I would faint for the first time in my life. After writing for an hour, I decided to head to the McDonald’s down thepasillo corridor to see if water was cheaper. I got two bottles for 3,25 euro, or about $4.25 I think. Worth it. I felt much better.
Finally, I decided to be slightly more presentable and head out for the daunting task of shoving my luggage in a small stall while trying to change my clothes and not smell like a greasy cobblestone. I changed once and realized I was going to overheat so changed again a bit later. I decided to suck it up and ask for directions at the information desk to find the bus. I asked in Spanish and was told, but I was so unsure of myself that closer to leaving I decided to ask a different desk. The man looked at me and spoke in English (I had changed into my U of Utah shirt…probably why) and then I realized I did understand just fine.
When the bus finally came, I was relieved. I had booked a seat on the ALSA Supra + bus for 56 euro ($75 USD ish), but it was worth the 6.5 hour trip to be comfortable (like business class seats) and have a bathroom available. We also got a meal (again, a sandwich with jamón serrano and a Coca-Cola…by the way, I’m not much of a pop-drinker, but Coke is way better here because the only ingredients are carbonated water, sugar, and coloring). All I remember is I kept dozing off, and every I woke up I awoke to the stewardess’s, Carmen, sweet voice saying ‘Buen provecho’ on the intercom. I also remember waking and seeing a sign that said we were entering the province of Segovia, and I thought about how amazing it was to be riding through all these places that seemed to only exist in textbooks, masterpieces, and daydreams. The landscape was beautiful, with pastures sectioned off by shrubbery and trees, rolling emerald meadows, and mountains in the distance. The bus was playing ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ followed by ‘Kung Fu Panda’, both dubbed in Spanish (not subtitled), but I just chose to stare out the window in between naps. The bus driver was this sweet old man. I had texted Alejandra to let her know we were leaving and she sent me a text asking me to get off at the station and not the plaza. Since I had no idea what she was talking about in regards to the bus stops in Oviedo, after the hour-long bus layover at the south bus station in Madrid (quickest hour of my life), I opened my phone and asked the conductor if he could help me with the request after reading it. He responded and I had no clue what he said except that I think it was possible. I text Alejandra and told her I didn’t have a clue because my Spanish was so rusty, but that I think it was possible.
As we entered Asturias, it was dark out. I couldn’t see anything, but I could tell there were mountains as there was houses lit up on the mountainside. Coming into Oviedo, I felt even more at home than when I realized all the people riding my bus were from Asturias (they felt like home to me…a very great affirmation that this is so right). The city was gorgeous by night. I was so wired from all the sleep I was getting. When we pulled into the station, I saw Alejandra outside talking to the conductors from other buses. I approached her and called out her name and she embraced me with relief, wondering how I knew it was her (her photos she mailed me), and chatting away like crazy saying she was so worried and asking about me. We got my luggage, took a cab on a short ride to her our apartment just one street over from the main street in town, Calle de Uría. I couldn’t tell you what the outside looks like as it was late and I was entranced by the bustling streets (the streets surrounding us are full of wine bars). I remember her pointing out a Zara, which I think is similar to H&M, and I remember the cab ride was 4,35 euro. I also remember that Alejandra has a painful shoulder because when she lifted my suitcase she about died (so did I, that’s not a shocker since it was 51.5 pounds!…the desk agent didn’t charge me and said ‘what’s a pound and a half between friends?’ ). She told me to look at all the stairs we’d have to go up (the apartment is on the 9th floor – top floor). She was waiting at the bottom and I had no idea if it was because she was tired…and then after a couple minutes the elevator came. What a relief! I said I’d only have to carry them up once, and she said I was young and could, but she’s an old lady (she’s not, she’s 51!) and couldn’t.
I got in my room – and I switched rooms this morning to the room with a dresser, even though my room had a great view of the mountain and houses. I called my parents ($0.01/minute on google talk to call the phones…so cheap), had dinner, and went to bed.
I think I’ll go into all the details in a separate post. This post is nearly as long as was my viaje.