I spent pretty much the whole month of July in Spain.
I lived there during college, from 2005-2008.
I hadn’t been back since. I arrived in Madrid again on June 25th, 2012, after almost 24 hours of travel. Weighted down by a blue backpacking pack filled to the limit with a months worth of clothes and clutching a shoulder bag containing money, passport, credit card and everything else I would spend weeks trying to replace if it was lost, I stepped out of the metro station near my old apartment and my college — the metro stop I had used so many times — and emerged onto the street.
This is obvious, I know, but Spain and the US are different countries.The Spain-ness of Spain had been lacking in my life since I moved away from there.
When I moved from Oregon to California this summer, for example, some things were different but I still saw the same stores, the same types of cars and houses, people looked the same and sounded the same. But when I moved from Madrid back to the US everything was different. The specific Spain-ness of the way the streets looked, the people dressed, walked, talked and smelled, the sidewalks, the buildings, the stores, the cafes — everything — was not there.
So, it was tremendously surreal to step out of the metro that morning. I turned to my left and saw the street that I always walked down to get back home from school. I turned to my right and saw the same cafe with the same sandwich board from 4 years ago. Blinking in the sun and clearing travel fog from my brain I looked up and down the street and remembered exactly how to get where I was going. It was so good to be back.
I spent the bulk of the rest of the month working as a counselor (“monitora”) in an English-language summer camp: Operacion Ingles.
It was so much fun! I loved camp life! There was always somewhere to go, something to do, and someone to talk to. We had class, practiced sports, played games and did arts and crafts. The kids were fun, funny, very Spanish and always entertaining.
It was also great, of course, to see old friends while in Madrid!
Now, and until September 10th, is wall-to-wall Peace Corps. Paper-work, packing and preparing in various ways. August is going to go by so fast!