Wednesday, June 13, 2012

And so it ends...

My last week in Spain was spent teaching and going to goodbye dinners. There was little time for sleep, which, in conjunction with the intense heat outside, did little to help my mental and physical state. When I did try to squeeze in a siesta, I was interrupted by the sound of open windows being forced shut and open again by the wind. I couldn't lock them shut because then I'd be too hot to sleep. As a result, I was kind of zombie-like for a solid four days. I enjoyed the company of students and colleagues and friends, but by the end of the week, I was having extreme difficulty concentrating on half the things they were saying. And while I had absolutely nothing planned outside of a few relaxing hours of packing, I was convinced to go hiking on my last day in Teruel.

It was Friday and the weather was incredible. Unfortunately, it was incredibly hot too. I prepared by applying sunscreen to every exposed part of my skin except for the back of my neck. I would later regret that decision. I met up with my friends, Libby and Eva, and we went hiking to the ruins of a small Iberian village about two miles from Teruel. There were signs posted that informed interested passersby about the history of the site, but it was entirely too hot and I was too sleep deprived to focus on it. I did find various pieces of broken pottery and Eva lectured me on the differences between Iberian creations and Roman handiwork.

We ended up trespassing on several different farmers' lands, I believe. There weren't many other obvious routes for getting up and down the rocky hill that we went up. I knew that people weren't allowed to shoot anyone in Spain, even if they're trespassing, so that comforted me some. I'm not sure there are any laws against having hungry guard dogs around, though. We ended up making it safely back to Teruel, passing an old house next to a stream and a refreshing little waterfall along the way.

In the afternoon, I had coffee with Marta, the lady who took me to Zaragoza in November, and her dog. I hadn't seen her in some time, so it was nice to show her how I had improved my Spanish a bit and recount where I'd visited since we had last spoken. She noticed how exhausted I was, though, and sent me home to pack and get some sleep.

I laid down and failed yet again to manage a siesta. Eventually, I just got up and tried packing. Somewhere along the way, either my suitcases had shrunk or I had gathered way more things than I had when I got there. I had a "space bag" that was supposed to be capable of removing all of the air around my clothes and making them super compact. It quickly became just a normal bag when it ripped and was no longer capable of preventing air from going inside. It took me a couple hours of trying to squeeze things in in different positions before I conceded and started picking out which clothes I didn't want anymore. I ended up tossing out quite a few socks and underwear that had seen better days. I also left some pants and shirts for my roommate to take or donate.

My roommate and his girlfriend fixed a delicious last supper for me. We had duck with potatoes and pears and bread. They gave me a card that David had drawn himself (which turned out rather nicely, I might add), complete with a giant chicken on the front with the words "Kentucky Man". Apparently no matter how hard I try to convince people that Kentucky is more than just fried chicken, it hasn't gotten through to them. I know David is just screwing with me, but there are others who just don't get it.

After dinner, I headed to bed and got about two hours of sleep before having to wake up and head to Valencia. Leaving from Valencia meant that David was willing to take me there by car, saving me a bus trip and a hotel stay in Madrid. The downside was getting up at 3 a.m. so I could catch a flight to Madrid. I spent the next twenty-six or so hours in cars and airports, guzzling down coffees and trying to focus on a book for more than ten seconds at a time (and failing miserably). Somewhere along the way, my body just kind of accepted that it had no choice but to push ahead through all of the security checkpoints and flights if it ever hoped to get some rest. But rest it finally did, after reuniting with family and ladyfriend in Lexington. Oh, how I enjoy essentially going back in time and being on a normal sleep schedule versus jet lag going the other way.

I'm still sifting through all of the pictures I took over the past few months, trying to organize them. They serve as a nice timeline of events. Hopefully I can eventually order them well enough to convey that timeline in a coherent manner. I don't think I've ever had this many pictures over this span of time without being able to organize them and back them up in between different events. I guess I need something to do over the summer anyway. Maybe I'll finally get around to making a scrapbook or a photo album.

So I'm back in Kentucky. I've been home for a little under two weeks. Owingsville hasn't changed much. I suppose that's to be expected. It's nice to come back to familiar scenery. I'm still confused by the people who, in response to hearing that I've been in Spain for the past year, give me this pitiful look and say something to the effect of, "I bet you're glad to be home," in such a worried tone. Well, sure I'm glad to be home. But I don't regret having gone to Spain. It wasn't a military tour or anything. I wasn't kept in a labor camp. It has been an unforgettable experience, one that has taught me more than a thing or two, and the last thing I want to see on their faces is pity. 

I don't really know how to end a blog like this. My journey is at an end and I've made it home safely? I guess  all I can say is that the past year has brought me good times and difficult times. It has isolated me from all that was familiar and forced me to expand my comfort zone. I've learned how to communicate in another language and about a different way of life. I've done my best to teach others, to help them understand things from my perspective, and received a disproportionate amount of knowledge and understanding in return. I've met some incredibly trusting and open people that I hope to maintain some contact with, and perhaps visit again sometime.

So my year in Spain is at a close. I'll be reflecting on what all of it means for some time to come, I'm sure. Now I'm focusing on continuing the bigger journey. I don't really know what's in store next. Regardless, the things I've learned over the past year will go with me. If nothing else, I'll be able to order Mexican food without too many problems.

No comments:

Post a Comment