The title of this story is: “Do you know where I can find…?” Another title could be: how many local people can I ask for directions in less than an hour?
This morning I decided to take the bus to school. After getting (what I thought were) clear directions from Charo, my host mom, I thought, “I can do this. I know Spanish. I can make it from the post office to the bus stop to school. Easy.” Well, with a lot of questions and a little direction, I finally made it to my class a half hour late. Being late was completely worth it. Why? I got to practice my “street Spanish” all morning long.
My first stop was the tobacco shop to buy a bus pass. I asked a lady on the street where it was after I had turned down a few wrong streets. She looked at me like I was a little bit crazy and pointed to the store right in front of my face. My second stop was the post office. I asked another lady walking her tiny dog where I could find Los Correos. Again, right in front of my face. We both had a good laugh. After the post office, I tried out of few bus stops before I finally found the one that just seemed to be the right one. (Actually, I waited at one bus stop, got impacient and went to a different stop, before talking to a couple and realizing that I had the right one to start with!) Once on the bus, I met Angel (pronounced an-hel) who was going to visit his granddaughter at the school right next to mine. When I heard that my heart sang! When we got off of the bus, that sweet old man told me to keep going straight. I, of course, had to take the first left I found. After two more people gave me directions, I finally reached the school gates. I have never been happier to see two large pieces of metal in my life.
So, like I said, quite the adventure, but I got to practice asking questions to random Spanish speakers all morning. It was so challenging, but strangely fulfilling at the same time. The culture in Spain is so different. I’m not talking about the big cultural differences, like the fact that all the stores close down around two in the afternoon so we can all take siestas. I’m talking about the small things. I originally thought that people in Spain just weren’t all that friendly because they hardly ever make eye contact or smile on the street. Today, after talking to ten different people, I am slowly changing what I thought before. Not only were the local people willing to help me..they were willing and enthusiastic to talk to me.
It’s only the fourth day here in Alcala, and I am starting to feel like part of the community. Even though I’m still trying to find the best route to school. I can’t wait for the day when I know the route with my eyes closed (I would never do that, Mom!) Vale, poco a poco. It will all get easier little by little.