The Beginning of the End

by theadventuresofbeka

This past weekend was so bittersweet. I feel like it was a great ending but the end is what I dread. I spent the weekend traveling alone. My host mother’s sister kindly invited me to stay on her boyfriend’s couch the weekend that she was in Madrid. That happened to be my last weekend in Spain. I had said from the very beginning of my time here that I wanted to see the museums in Madrid and this was the perfect way to do it. In so many ways, this weekend reminded me of what Spain has given me.

In my time here, one thing I have learned is to listen to Spaniards. When they tell me a place is beautiful or that I won’t like something they are usually right. I had expressed interest in seeing a bit of Andalucia and my host mother told me that Cordoba was one of the most gorgeous cities in Southern Spain. I spent more money on transportation than I have any other weekend but I didn’t have to pay for a hotel and I wanted to see a bit of the South so it was worth it. I went to Madrid Friday afternoon via Palencia and immediately took the metro to the Reina Sofia. Saturday I caught an AVE (high speed train) from Madrid to Cordoba and returned to Madrid the same way that night. Sunday I went to the Sorolla Museum, spent some time with my host mother’s sister and the sister’s boyfriend and then took a bus back to Aguilar de Campoo. Every day, I spent around four hours traveling.

Taking a weekend to travel alone was something I wanted to do while here in Spain. After some of my previous experiences in the past few weeks I was a bit apprehensive but everything went smoothly. It is not something that is common in Spain but at the same time if you aren’t in Barcelona it isn’t dangerous. As someone told me in Cordoba, “It doesn’t end badly in Spain”. This weekend I navigated metros, city buses, streets, trains, autobuses and two cities by myself. I also managed to talk to a lot of interesting people and go to four museums.

I am American and in many ways that is culturally apparent but there are some parts of Spanish culture that have rubbed off on me. I now have a fascination with people who speak English and feel compelled to go up to them and talk to them. What I have found is that most of the English speaking individuals I met this past weekend were somewhat cool and distant in comparison to the warm, welcoming Spaniards. I drank beer with some Andalusians who introduced me to the typical “Spanish” personality and lifestyle that the rest of the world thinks is all of Spain, I had a waiter tell me “He had to see me again”, and I spent a train ride talking to the guy next to me about Spain and the USA.  I learned that I am completely incapable of speaking Spanglish – I can speak Spanish OR English. When the two are mixed I just get confused and don’t understand either. I also felt pretty awkward when I heard the words booze and erection instead of Bush and election.

I saw the Guernica by Pablo Picasso in the Reina Sofia and found out that the room of preliminary drawings for the final product was more interesting and even better were the charcoal war drawings by an artist I have never heard of before. I spent my day in Cordoba not really sure where I was all day. I got myself to the city center and afterwards just wandered for hours taking pictures. I happened to stumble on two museums and a market. The mosque is hard to miss so I won’t say I discovered it. I had a great time and I don’t regret that I didn’t pay for a tour. Sunday I chose to sleep in and then went to the Museo Sorolla instead of the Prado. This was recommended to me by the one of the English teachers I work with and it was wonderful advice. I fell in love with Sorolla’s work and spent a couple hours looking at his paintings that are displayed in what was his house.

I almost missed my bus to Aguilar because my ride wasn’t sure where the bus station was. From my bus I watched the sun set over the lush green fields and I contemplated what a wonderful 11 weeks it has been.

Que pena que tengo que marchar. What a shame that I have to leave.