It's 8:30 pm, and I'm sitting on a plane, struggling to keep my eyes open, waiting for water. When I asked if I could have tap water the flight attendant responded, "is it alright if it's from a tank?" I'm not sure what this means, but I nodded and I guess we'll see what she meant soon.
I’m flying from Barcelona to London, marking the end to my first trip outside of the UK since arriving here about a month ago. Leaving the United Kingdom for the first time came with the adjustment of a new power converter, currency and language. As a Texas native, who never took Spanish, I can only manage a few phrases and I would consider my Spanish better than most. Still, on the way to Spain, drained after having just completed the first British Studies exam, I confused Spanish for “my name is” with “I love you”. After that, I made sure to think about what I was saying before causing another stranger to walk away from me hurriedly.
Last night, Jesus, the host at our hostel, suggested that we go to a traditional salsa-dancing club, eager to experience Spanish nightlife; we set out for the club straight away. He mentioned that it’s not uncommon for Spanish nightlife to allow you to enter for free but require a sum in order to exit. Walking down an alley way, we found the inside of a building with a dimly lit sign, paid the 5 euro cover charge and entered the building that was designed to resemble old circus tent (clowns, distorted mirrors and all). While the music was foreign, and the hip movements even more so, we had a great time and were able to laugh at ourselves for getting moves wrong. Given my unapologetically bad dancing, a woman named María introduced herself, kissing me once on each cheek and asking where my friends and I were from. I asked, "It was my dancing that gave me away right?" She quickly replied, "It's not your dancing. It's your face. I doubt you would be Spanish. You don’t look like you are, anyways." She explained how she studied in London but lives in Barcelona, her hometown.
Barcelona seemed as bustling, or even more so, than New York and London with tourists advertisements and shops, many of which were made to target American tourists. I left Harlaxton with my friends, Jared and Matt, with the intention of meeting up with my friend Lindsay and her friend Abby, who are studying in Rome but are originally from the States. When they arrived (the previous day, before the salsa dancing) we went out for tapas, a meal consisting of a few small-portioned, Spanish entrees.
Upon arriving at our hostel, we turned the corner and happened into Gaudi’s Batllo house, a notable landmark of Barcelona, which was right outside of the door of our hostel. As a huge fan of architecture and having interned at an architecture firm, stumbling across some of Gaudi’s work was like striking gold, and there was a lot of it. On our second day in the city we were able to see Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia (a massive Church that has been under construction for about 120 years) and his Batllo apartments, Parc de Montjuic and the Barcelona Cathedral. Aside from this we walked down to an antique market, grabbed some horchata and headed to the beach despite the extremely windy weather. When we first hit the sand we weren’t on a designated nude beach (despite how one old man treated it as one anyways).
My water just got here and aside from its slightly strange texture, I just drank it with no questions. The fact that I was able to pay in pounds is a strangely comforting reminder that I'm on my way home.