Spain— Bus Trips
Wrote this two days ago, but have had no computer access until now:
I’m typing this on my phone as I take an 11 hour bus ride from Valencia to Sevilla. I’m planning another week of classes in Sevilla this week, and then a week and a half of pure sightseeing/solo studying before I head back home.
The end will be here before I know it, but for now I’m just enjoying the day to day rhythms of Spanish life. I’ve taken lots of pictures but don’t have an easy way to upload them at this point. I’ve also met some really awesome people from all over the world. And all, travelers, ex-pats, and spaniards alike, are really friendly. Friendly enough that I’ve met people in a bar in Valencia and had them offer me their couch in Madrid in two weeks. Even for someone who spends 50-100 nights a year on various couches, that is unusual.
It is flat out amazing how much things that were terrifying slash difficult a week ago are now almost routine. Things like navigating the buses and metro, asking directions, and ordering food. The food one is especially big for me, because I’m a bit of a picky eater. So to be able to ask what comes on a sandwich and then specify the things I do not want it with makes life a lot easier. And I’ve stopped taking my map when I go out in the city—I relish the chance to ask two or three people how to get somewhere. I may have to relinquish my man card for that.
I still don’t understand half or more of what I overhear (and if I’m listening but not looking it’s even less), but I’m able to get the gist of almost everything directed at me. Now, these are necessarily simple exchanges, much more along the line of, ‘how was the bar last night?’ than, ‘how do you feel about teaching creationism in schools?’. Still, the progress is great. Take, for instance, the conversation I had this afternoon at the bus station. I wanted to go that day from Valencia to Sevilla. This involves telling the ticket seller where I want to go, when, whether I want one way, round-trip, or open ended tickets, whether I want trip insurance, etc. How do I want to pay? Is there a student discount? Do I have my id? What plaza does the bus leave from? Is there free wifi access in the station? None of these are sophisticated questions, but it’s fairly lengthy conversation for someone at my level of fluency. I’ve been comfortable having this conversation in English since I was about 13, but I couldn’t have had it here 3 days ago. And I make it a point to try and talk to people every time I’m in public. Any question I can think of, from ‘how long have you lived here?’ to ‘are you married?’ to ‘how do you pronounce this street name?’ to ‘do you like Michael Jackson?’ and more. Yes, believe that I ask total strangers whether they like Michael Jackson in Spanish. They do. Les gustan.
I will also say this about traveling by bus: I feel completely safe from terrorist attack in a bus station. I don’t know the Spanish for ‘to pick up trash’, but I’m not asking anyone there because it’s clearly not an expression they’ve ever heard.
Now I just need to do a better job keeping up with tour planning and album pre-production stuff. That’s right, I have tours and a new album coming up!
España para el dia: ¿Que prefieres comer aqui, sin verduras? No me gusta verduras.
Translation: What do you prefer to eat here, without vegetables? I don’t like vegetables.
This I use to ask waiters and servers for food recommendations. There’s probably a cleaner way to ask, but they always understand and I get to use only words I already know.