It's 12:34 AM on Sunday and I'm sitting awake in my bed after trying (obviously, unsuccessfully) to fall asleep. I leave the hostel in less than three hours and have approximately two more hours to sleep...so, instead, I decided to blog.
Chueca, the district in Madrid where my hostel is located, is still bustling insanely at this hour, and it will continue to do so until about 5 in the morning. Even with my earplugs in, I can hear and feel bass from a neighboring dance club (most likely a gay club, as this is the well-known gay district). Different intonations and accents meld together and glide through the panes of glass in my windows; laughter can be heard distinctly above the din. This is Madrid: alive at all hours of the day and night.
During the day, the weather here has been absolutely perfect- mid 70s-mid 80s, and always a breeze. The breeze carries with it smells of tapas, jamon and spices, freshly baked bread and occasionally, perfume.
Today was spent with a new friend, Caitlyn, whom I met through my longtime friend, Paul. She will soon be completing her thesis with a program called Network Of Humanitarian Action or NOHA, and has been living in Germany for the past year. She moved to Spain to do an internship with an NGO here, and knows quite a bit more Spanish than I do. We had a really great time together, sitting at the cafes both outside and in, having meals and discussing life.
The great thing about traveling is finding a lot of like-minded people...people who believe in learning about the world and other people in it, people who are interested in humanitarian action, people who believe in maintaining an open mind about others, people who enjoy having more philosophical discussions about life in general. I won't say that everyone I've met has been like this (especially in Korea), but I have found that many who travel abroad do seem to share these qualities.
As an aside, I should mention that another great quality Caitlyn had was being extremely helpful to me...because of course, I had only been here for two days, and managed to roll my ankle by falling down some extremely uneven, antiquated stairs here at the hostel. Luckily, nothing seemed too serious, but my foot did swell on the left side and turned black and blue. So, Caitlyn also volunteered to be my crutch, helped me locate ice, an ankle brace, even bought me snacks. How wonderful is it to meet people that will treat you so well upon first introduction? I felt quite guilty for taking so much advantage of someone whom I had just met. When I thanked her profusely for her actions and told her that I felt bad she had to do all of those things for me, she said "think, if the situation were reversed, you know you would do the same for me." I thought about it, and came to the conclusion that what she said was quite true. Wouldn't I do the same thing? So, I decided I should just be thankful and resolve to do the same for someone else, if it is needed. :)
The timing of the ankle roll was quite perfect, in true Anna style, because I am leaving for Madrid and will start training camp in San Remo tomorrow, which is very physical. I really am hoping that they will take a little pity on me and let me rest the ankle a bit the first couple of days, so that I can recover fully before starting camp. The ankle/foot itself already seems much better than it was when it first happened yesterday morning, and has been reduced to only one black and blue spot, and seems to support my full weight better than before. Anyway, always a reminder from the universe to slow down and take care of myself...just wish I wouldn't get that reminder when upcoming outward events require that I speed UP!
So...all in all, I am grateful that my ankle seems to be healing quite well; grateful to have met a new friend, grateful to have spent time with an old friend, and grateful to have gotten a little taste of Madrid. I am hopeful that the feelings of disorientation that come along with starting a new journey and taking lots of short trips will subside soon. I can't help still feeling a bit homesick already at times and missing friends and family. As I remember, I felt pretty similar upon my arrival in Korea, and I think it's only a natural feeling, especially for me. Just gotta "give myself some Grace", as my friend Kate says, and as much TLC as possible. :)
Missing you all, wish you were here experiencing life with me, but grateful that you can even get this close.
Much, much love,