Amigos, I made it!!!
As I approached the last hour of my flight, my stomach wrestled itself into unbearable knots. To be honest, I have never been so completely terrified in my entire life.
We finally landed at 7:45 am and I made a break toward customs and made it through in seconds. It took a total of 28 minutes to make it from our arrival gate to the baggage claim area. The airport was massive. My adrenaline kick allowed me to 50 some-odd pound bag off the carousel. Once I got it, I decided to sit down and pull my confidence together before making my grand entrance. I sat for about 15 minutes, said a few prayers and made my way toward the taxis.
I snagged a taxi and asked the man to take me to the specific address of my flat. We made the trip in complete silence, listening to Spanish pop and watching the sun rise over Spain. We arrived to the building and the man flew out of the car and launched my luggage into the middle of the street before I could close the door. He jumped back in the car and zoomed off, leaving me to chase after my belongings in the middle of the street and almost getting hit by 3 cars.
I bolted out of the street and out of harm’s-way faster than one could snap. I tried opening the door to the lobby of the building, but it was locked. I stood outside for 15 minutes, with all my stuff, in complete panic mode. I was 10 minutes early to meeting my landlord, and she had not arrived. I finally caught a glimpse of a young girl walking toward the door.
When she opened it, I immediately tried to catch it to get myself inside to wait. The girl passes, leaves the building. A minute later she came marching back and asked, “Are you American?”. I laughed, as if my blonde hair weren’t a giveaway. She repeated, “I think you’re my new roommate! ”
My new roommate Louisa let me in the room to set my stuff down. We rode in an ancient one-person caged elevator up to the floor. I traveled back downstairs to wait for the Landlord. She arrived and she was a petite, cute Spanish woman. She gave me the keys and showed me around. It was all in Spanish. She even gave me my first official “kiss on each cheek” greet.
I met both my roommates. Louisa is 21 year-old girl from Toronto, Canada and Claudio is a 22 year-old male from Florence, Italy. We all communicate with each other in English.
Louisa just arrived, and she is studying at a different university than I. Her dad (who is from Bulgaria) came to move her in and hang out with her for a week. I met them both when they were eating lunch in the flat. Louisa was on her way to class and offered to show me the way to the metro. I followed.
I went to the metro station to get a transportation pass. Louisa went to class. When I was done, Louisa’s dad popped out of thin air. He asked if I knew my way back, and I shook my head wide-eyed. He offered to walk me around the area and I agreed. He showed me the nearest markets, metro stops and gave brief descriptions of the surrounding streets. Then he dropped me off at the door of my flat.
From there I went on a walking excursion alone. I walked a total of 3.5 hours. My apartment is in the heart of Madrid. The coolest plazas, shops and restaurants are all at my doorstep. I wandered through some of my favorite Spanish clothing stores. I browsed through Mercado de San Miguel, one of the most famous markets in all of Spain. I also took a quick stop at the Royal palace and watched the sun set behind it. I made quite the trek without a map. However, at the very end I took a wrong turn. I got very very VERY lost for another hour. I asked 8 locals for directions. I couldn’t understand anyone. Finally I asked a sweet woman who still spoke Spanish, but spoke slowly and was very understandable. I eventually made my way home.
I ended my day by walking to the market and buying an apple for dinner. I came back to the flat where my roommates were hanging out in the living room. They asked me to join them in a wine-night. So we all stayed in, sipped wine and talked for hours.
Bienvenidos a España.