¡Bienvenidos de España! After two VERY long flights and a six-hour layover in Chicago, I can finally say that yes, I finally arrived in el Aeropuerto de Madrid Barejas. So, let us do a little recap, shall we? Late Wednesday night I drove up to Phoenix with my mom because my flight was moved from 10am to 6am Thursday morning. The whole way up we were reveling in my mother’s brilliance because she found an apartment that had clean ratings for only $45, but as we pulled into the middle of the ghettos outside of the airport and had creepy guys staring in the windows, we had to swallow our pride a little bit. Lovely.
I won’t bore you with stories of the long flight because nothing truly exciting happened, other than the fact that I had an eternal 6-hour layover in Chicago. I arrived in the Madrid airport at around 7:20am on Friday morning and came to the conclusion that the US Government must be feeding their worn-down, uptight, hair-slicked-back-into-intimidating-bun, uniform wearing custom employees some nasty stuff because in comparison, the Spanish customs agents seemed like old friends that were meeting us after a long voyage. Seriously. I got no questions, no annoyed looks, no impatient sighs – just a friendly lady who smiled and stamped mi pasaporte and another man cracked a joke about bringing illegal things into the country. Yeah, the US needs to circulate out their employees a bit. Also, they’ve got to stop tenuring their flight attendants because there wasn’t a single bitter exhausted lady on my Iberia flight. Oh, speaking of Spanish boys….we were speaking of them, right? Here’s a short little adage for anyone interested. As I got off the plane and was struggling to figure out where the HECK I was supposed to go (it was difficult because I didn’t have a slew of angry government workers casting glares that pierced my soul when I walked the wrong direction), this one guy who introduced himself as “Pepe de Seville” helped show me where to go, helped me get my luggage, and then showed me how to set my phone so that I could get wifi without getting charged. Just too too kind, right? And then to top it off, he did that “besos” thing on the cheeks that I’m still trying to get used to. Talk about awkward when you go the wrong direction. But that’s beside the point…Anyway, once we all arrived we took a bus to Alcalá, which is just about 35 km outside of Madrid. It’s a university town and actually pretty modern for how old this area is. My roommate, Alex, and I are living in the top floor of an apartment building downtown from the school – it’s not too far but let me tell you, it was quite the experience having to lug over-packed bags through the narrow streets and crowds of people in the sweltering hot mediterranean sun. The woman we are living with is named Blanca Vera Flores. She lives alone and has one granddaughter (Miranda, 4) who we met today – apparently Blanca has students almost year-round and has hosted 5-6 every year for the past 25 years! Talk about extreme tolerance. She told us that she likes mormon students the best because she doesn’t have to worry about a curfew because she knows they wont drink. WOOO NO CURFEW! Just kidding, I’m dead tired.
The first thing Blanca asked me when I introduced myself as “Chloe” was what my Spanish name was because apparently Chloe is too hard to pronounce, so I have now been christened “Rosa” para todo el tiempo in Spain. It’s going to take some getting used to because it always catches me off guard.
We had a gigantic lunch of this spanish pasta, sandía y bocadillos, and then gratefully took a 4 hour siesta (sans air conditioning… might I add) – la siesta is a real thing here for sure, and Blanca explained that it is extremely popular and came about because it gets people out of the heat during the hottest time of the day. Brilliance if you ask me.
The rest of the evening was spent walking up and down las calles and exploring the different plazas and shops and tapas bars. It all feels so surreal right now to thing that I’m going to be living here for the next few months and it hasn’t really soaked in yet. I’m pretty excited though because apparently this next week is “La Celebración de Alcalá” y apparently it’s a pretty big deal.
Jet lag is killing me though, so hasta mañana.