Day 627

Hi.

Your google search must have left you at this site. That’s the explanation I give for all the hits I keep getting on this site, which was started 627 days ago.

If this is your first vist, you’ve stumbled apon the virtual story of myself, a young woman from Wisconsin, USA who moved to Spain on in impulse and the love, laughter, hardships, discoveries and friendships I made along the way. Included are pictures and videos as I explored my 8 month stay in Spain (and also Germany and Costa Rica which were on the way home) with my at the time new Nikon.

I felt like I should give an update to anyone reading this, or if anyone who followed me at one time stops back:

-I currently live in the USA and am living with and dating someone who is secretly mentioned in this blog ; ) I graduated college and work as a waitress. After coming back home I’ve traveled to Chile, Argentina, Canada and most recently New York. It’s pretty much its own country.

– Tina is in California and soon to be visiting Flavia in Sweden. Her and I are trying to plan to meet up in the States.

– Becky my friend from WI (Day 225) is living with her Spaniard boyfriend still and has plans to eventually marry. He came to the US to meet her parents last Christmas. We still talk on FB and occasionally Skype.

– I think my mom is in love with a man she met in Barcelona. They keep in touch via email and letters.

– Paul is in Germany and doing well. He has gone back to Torrox and has sent me postcards from his journeys.

– Miguel and I used to Skype more, but I haven’t talked to him in quite some time. Last I knew he stopped playing in the band and has picked up running and is getting into shape.

– Lila still travels around Europe.

– Luis my ex boyfriend went back to Mexico. We don’t regularly talk, I think he has a new girlfriend.

– I saw Amin in Canada in January. We haven’t talked since then.

– I keep in touch with Rui and David (couch surfing in Portugal ) via FB. Today is Rui’s birthday.

– I keep a picture of my neighbor Antonio on my fridge. I have submitted some of my pictures from Spain to competitions. I’m waiting to hear back on a few.

–  I have no immediate plans to return to Europe. My sites are set on Brazil 2014.

– I would like to pursue higher education in journalism and continue to travel and blog.

I appreciate people who take the time to visit this site. You can request my information to find me on Facebook.

Happy travels everyone. Live big and bold.

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One week later and I can say that Costa Rica is one of the most magical places on earth! I’m enjoying every moment that I can here, and I finally feel ‘settled in’. Having said that its time to put this blog to rest.

My 8 meses, my 8 month journey and then some took me places and brought me people and experiences I will never forget. Its funny now to read some of the first posts and laugh about how I did things, because I didn’t know a better way, or how little things that used to stress me out were really nothings in the end. I like to think back on the development of my friendships, and to think that people that I randomly or casually met would turn out to be the closest things to home for me in Spain…I can’t imagine my experience without people like Tina and Alec, Lila, Miguel, Paul, a handful of old folks, the ladies at the cafe, Rui, Pirate, Luis and other special people.

Not only was it a blessing to have these new friendships, but I was honored to see a few old friends too, and have the pleasure of the nights in Madrid, the road trip to Granada…wine and time with my mother…futbol, food and Huskies…a new country and culture explored in the mist…photo-shoots and festivals.

And then of course I have my bog readers, my friends (old and new) and family who’ve I’ve been able to share my stories and life with through writing. I can’t express how much its meant to me to have people read my posts and especially times when I’m down, show support and care for me. Even from an ocean away those things kept my heart warm and my spirits up.

I think I’m starting to get sad and reflective now….so before that happens I just want to say thank you for being a part of my journey with me.

The journey is over and a new one has taken its place. If anyone is interested you may follow my time in Costa Rica by visiting my new blog “Pura Vida” also through WordPress. This blog will be more of a collection of photos and short commentary than anything. I’ll be keeping the stories for when I can say them out loud.

jesperanzapuravida.wordpress.com

Everyone has the potential to be a traveler and an adventurer, and only some do it with suitcases and plane tickets. The big adventures to me could have been small events to someone else. I wish everyone safe travels in the everyday life, because that is were the greatest surprises often lie.

Day 269

After much struggle and hardship I am finally out of Europe! I only know a small fraction of Costa Rica so far, and I am still tired from traveling, I’ve been sleeping alot,…but I love it here.

It makes Torrox feel as if it was a dream forever ago. A beautiful dream. I could have never have predicted anything of what I have seen and lived, and I am so grateful for all that I have been given. Reality still has yet to hit me, and for now except for the people I know, I don’t miss anything in Europe…but I’m sure that will change once I return to Wisconsin. For now its nice to take one last look back on a few memories of my time spent, and continue forward.

My biggest struggle right now is not being upset that my whole plans have changed, and to keep positive and happy that at least I’m here! I might have lost a week, over 600 dollars ( I only have $300 now!!!), and a few reservations…. but I’m letting all of that die tonight because tomorrow is a brand new day. I’m going to wake up 25 and will be ready to embrace with an open mind and heart all that lies ahead of me.

Today I say goodbye to Europe, and prepare myself to get ready to immerse myself into Costa Rica and this new year ahead of me.

A look at some of my final memories…

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Day 268

The cold metal doors of the train separating Paul and I shut in front of my face and his image disappeared as the train sped from the station. I opted to stand the 25 minutes on way to the airport, I have this 11 hour flight to sit. Silence of seven other passengers unbroken by laughter or conversation filled the train cabin and allowed me the peace to absorb the last I’d see of Germany. Rusty railroad tracks, brick train stations, timbered houses and empty green fields were blurred by velocity and watery eyes.

One of the only positive things I can say about the Frankfurt International airport is that the train brings you right to the belly of the terminal, and I didn’t have too much of a struggle with my luggage. I would have liked to have bought one last bratwurst or pretzel, but just being in the airport made me want to throw up as I thought of creative ways to end my life in the event of complications.

Kidding.

Sort of.

Paul’s uncle came over this afternoon to  borrow me his bathroom scale to weigh my luggage. I was surprised at its simplicity, because his uncle has one of the most expensive and sophisticated-chic apartments I’ve ever seen- Paul and I stopped for a visit earlier this week- His uncle isn’t at all pompous though…when we visited he ate spaghetti wearing an old and obnoxious yellow ‘Florida’ T-shirt in one of his many large antique filled rooms where the big windows bring in sunlight to shine upon the  fancy furniture and elegant carpets.

Thats how I knew to expect to stuff my shirt again on this round 2 attempt to Costa Rica. My checked-in luggage was 1kg (2ish lbs) over, and my carry-on 5kg over, so when I got to the airport I made my chest a DD with clothes and books, and I made sure to be checked in by the young man, and not the woman who’s facial expressions made her out to be a real bitch. Dude let me pass no problem, never even weighing the carry on bag.

Being a DD is entertaining, but a bit hard on the back so I waited till I turned the corner and put everything back into my carry on suitcase and headed to the gate. I continued on with the normal airport procedures, passing by the passport check to going on to the customs and security. I had to walk forever to get there,…by that I mean a good 15 minutes down a dreary dull hallway till I was suddenly in front of the lines to wait to be checked. It was in a completely separate area, it didn’t even look like part of the airport much anymore, it looked like some sort of military control.

The same Germanic ogreish looking woman with broad shoulders and a manly haircut who barked at an elderly woman for not putting her passport in the X-ray tray- did a pat down on me…as if my tight pants could conceal weapons or crack cocaine. I was deemed ‘ok’ than allowed to be herded into a line that went directly to the C8 gate to board. The line lead to a attractive but terribly grumpy looking woman in an ugly airline suit who was collecting boarding tickets. There was a girl my age next to me, and I saw she had a Costa Rican passport, so in Spanish I asked if she had been to this airport before, or knew if they would weigh our carry on bags, I told her that I was almost 10lbs over, apparently she was too though. She didn’t know the answer, but kept me company as the wait dwindled down.

We were waiting essentially to be allowed in to the waiting area…a small space with a limited amount of seats that was closed off by an above waist glass fence. Security guards were on the outside pacing back and forth and directing passengers that were straying. The air was stale and the florence lights painful on the eyes. Lots of people were cramped into the area and forced to stand, and the those in line were hustled toward the space. The tican (Costa Rican) girl was a ahead of me, and behind a German-speakng woman. The woman was commanded to follow a tall and handsome black man who spoke a North-American English, and then so was the tican girl and then so was I.

I got really nervous especially when he led us to a scale.

I didn’t even wait to be told to do anything, as quickly as I could, I turned around out of sight while the man spoke to the woman. I hurried to unbutton my top and shoved my book of Borges short-fictions into my bra and trying to even everything out with random shirts and skirts. I became a DD again, and covered my lumpy boobs with a shawl, to make it look somewhat normal. I crammed my laptop, and both film and digital cameras ( at least 8 lbs combined)  in my new and beautiful hippy purse Tina bought for me as an early birthday gift ((which by the way I love. Thanks so much…and yes I did toss the old shitty one already!))

I turned back around and the woman was waiting on the side next to a computer and a -‘cash register’ of sorts. It was the tica’s turn. She never even tried to take anything out, and I heard him say ‘100’ to her,..she looked panicked and then he turned and looked at me told me I was fine.

I wanted to stay and help the girl….but I didn’t want him to notice my chest and walked as far away as I could. I absolutely could not afford a weight fee…and leaving a digital camera/ macbook behind is not an option. So I sat in the horrible waiting area like an animal feeling a bit treated like an animal watching the sweet girl make a few phone calls and pace back and forth and dig through her stuff. I sat and talked with a Dominican woman who volunteered to tell me she was heading home because her mother is dying. I told her I’ve never seen anything or been treated as badly as I have in Frankfurt, and she agreed with me.

Now i’ve been sitting here next to Carla. She’s from Honduras, sleeping right now. Her arm is over the arm rest and about 90% of me wants to move my arm over so I don’t have to touch her, but the other 10% fears that if I do she’ll slowly inch her way deeper into my personal space.

“So do you like to drink and get drunk?” she asks me as we sip complimentary vodka-orange juices.

I’ll I said was “uh” and she answers, “yeah me too”.

She was born in 78. She showed me her passport.  After 30 minutes I already knew quite about her….she’s been living in Barcelona caring for an old woman for the past 5 years, her ex-husband is Costa-Rican but left her for another woman but she says life is more fun that way. Her 2 children live with her mother in Honduras, because they are old enough now. Her oldest is 16. She’s nice and situations can be quite difficult for people….you can’t meet a stranger and judge them without knowing how or why the ended up in what they are in.

You can judge them however when they move their legs under your seat though. Damnit Carla. Atleast she moved her arm now. Just  figured out where the headphone plugs are in the dark, the movie ‘Descendants’ is on, and I’ve wanted to see it for a long time.

I can’t sleep,…its 2am in Germany, but we are ‘traveling backwards in time’ so the sun has been setting now for the past 5 hours, and its not often one gets the pleasure of enjoying a 5 hour sunset.

Day 268

The order of the prolonged goodbye as happens to me:

1. Mental preparation

Its now acknowledged that the end has an eventual arrival. Maybe its marked on the calendar or set as a reminder on an app. The actual date is still a ways away, but close enough to consider it on a different level than before. This first stage of ‘feelings’ is accompanied by the desire to get things accomplished. A mental  to-do list starts to form.

2. The weeks leading up to the departure:

The to-do list starts to take action. The thought of  goodbye is present at all times, but maintains a comfortable distance from reality. Therefore  needing to get things done  may not be imminent  but its in the back of the mind. There is still room to wait for tomorrow.

3. Week of departure:

Thoughts start to appear like- What even happened? Only one week? How did time go by so fast? Nothing on that to-do list is done! . Formation of a new to-do list is in order, considering the most essential things that need to be done. Its important now to start seeing people/places/things you’ll miss the most. Little by little the week starts to fill up…Sunday night coffee with friends, Tuesday out to eat, Thursday morning jog in the park, Friday afternoon stop by the bank. Its a slow realization that  there won’t be enough time to do everything you had wanted. It starts to feel all of a sudden.

4. Day before departure:

One of the busiest and often stressful days of the goodbye process. Lots of goodbyes have already taken place, so if there is a chance that it wasn’t real before it most certainly is now. The ‘feelings’ are very high at this stage. There are tons of things haven’t been touched on the to-do list, and the procrastination continues thinking that things can still be accomplished although realistically its not possible.

6. Night before departure:

Typically spent with few hours of sleep. It’s time to prepare things for the final goodbye, and there was time to do it before but its been delayed, and pushed back to last minute. Time is the most important thing at this point. While its a sad day, all of the big do-to’s don’t matter so much and it comes down to the simple things, and its just about enjoying what you can. Sleep this night will be impossible for one of three reasons- 1. Staying out late partying and with friends. 2. Last minute packing. 3. Restlessness. Or most likely all three.

7. Day of departure:

Its comes down to this day, the day that has been on the mind for the past few weeks. A few more so long and see you later’s are squeezed in. Everything takes on a sense of nostalgia, last time doing this…last time seeing that. Anything that might have been taken for granted before is cherrished. Its a matter of looking at things long and hard as to capture as much memory and sensation as possible.

8.The Departure

Exhaustion and emotions are at battle. Emotionally its been a hectic past week by now, and seeing all the people and places that meant so much has been both rewarding and draining. Somewhere in between all that is a sense of resolution in all the goodbyes that have been said. Exhaustion is a friend that disables the ability to cry uncontrolably thinking of the past and the faces left behind. Its not real till the hugs start, the door slams, the feel of luggage in hands, and the boarding of the bus/plane/train…. till it sinks in.

This is it. I’ve reached the end! Goodbye Europe!!

Germany 1 – Portugal 0

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265

Life is always full of unexpected surprises and that’s what makes it interesting. There’s no point to think about what if’s in my situation. I’m in Germany for 4 more days, and just want to enjoy it as I can. I’m glad that I can think like that again, because the first 2 days I was here were very difficult for me, because I had been looking forward to going to Costa Rica for years and when I was denied it I felt so hopeless.

I’m very pleased under the circumstances how things resolved themselves. I had been worried about not being able to buy a new ticket online without much money in my bank account, and after talking to my mother she advised me to go directly to the airport and buy it there with cash. That was a great idea and is what I ended up doing.

Paul had some errands to run so I went by myself. I was at the train station eating a freshly made pretzel, waiting and this foreign looking man with a hat and backpack walked up to another woman and I and asked, “Do you speak English?” in the clearest North American English.

Turns out, Jerry is Canadian and was headed to the airport as well, so we kept each other company. I have a thing for all things Canadian, and I loved hearing him tell me about what he was doing in Europe, and he had funny ways to tell his stories. I had been feeling sick in the stomach before he came, being so nervous about going back to the airport, and he helped me laugh away my nerves….except for explaining about the Vancouver ‘Clamato’ juice. Oysters = yuck.

I studied German in high school but abandoned it for Spanish. Being here I’ve been able to remember and pick up a few things along the way. However it is a bit funny to have the the last name ‘Schmidt’ and have been born in Frankfurt, Germany and to be able to say in damn near perfect German,  “I can’t speak German”. Its like someone from Green Bay saying, ‘yeah I don’t know where Green Bay is on the Wisconsin map’. So at the airport I got a few shameful looks and scowls when I handed over my passport and asked if they spoke English.

Not only are there the obvious linguistic differences I’ve encountered, but naturally cultural ones as well.

I think the most shocking one for me presented itself last night in a German Wellness Center. The whole Wellness Center idea was brilliant, for 10 Euros Paul and I got 3 hour access to a center with various pools of different sizes and temperatures and then sauna rooms. I spent all day yesterday looking forward to it! Finally some relaxation extreme style! I even bought a new swim suit for it, since I left my old one along with some undies etc… in Malaga accidentally.

Turns out I wouldn’t be needing my swimsuit for most of it.

So I guess when Paul warned me that people didn’t wear clothes in the sauna I was thinking of it more as an optional thing, and I ‘pictured’ naked people covered in towels all sitting around quiet and privately keeping to themselves.

Maybe my mind is too clean, I don’t know…but I certainly wasn’t mentally picturing EVERYONE required to be naked, and sitting around, walking around, swimming around, lounging around all naked. All naked. Butts, boobs and balls. All hanging free.

First reaction: Blush and giggle and avoid looking at people.

Second reaction: Without meaning to, I promise, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye…there were penis’ everywhere!

Third reaction: Focus on myself and using the small little towel to cover up every part of me.

Forth reaction: We get in the sauna, and still all covered up I realize parts of my body I didn’t know could sweat started to.

That was the first experience of the sauna. The first room was 140F. After 15 mins or so we were both so hot and had to leave. The customary tradition is then to go straight to an ‘ice water’ plunge. Paul goes first, I turn around so I don’t see him take his towel off and take a dip.

Then its my turn. I don’t want to. The plunge is small, only for one person and set aside, but not that far away is a bar, and a ‘lounge’ area where other naked people are sitting around, a unproportionatly high amount of men to women. I walk backwards to the plunge, still clinging to my little towel. Paul is watching me and I scream at him in English to turn around and not look at me, so he isn’t looking at me,…but now everyone else is. I quick take off the towel and step backwards into the freezing water, I can only take a few seconds and not thinking about the towel anymore just try to get out of it as soon as I can.

Everyone has seen my naked body at this point, but I’m still in favor of using a towel. We go outside then so Paul can smoke a cigarette, and that leads us to more sauna rooms and another heated outdoor pool and lounge area. At this point I still can’t get over all the skin. I guess it was like being in a nudist colony or something, which I wouldn’t be opposed to maybe trying- but I wasn’t expecting it that night, so I was still feeling a bit uncomfortable. But there wasn’t anyone ‘too fit’ or ‘too fat’ just a lot of ‘normal’ which was nice. As far as the men, after a while I got used to it and stopped looking at everyone, but I did get the chance to see some very very good looking men : ) and I think I caught some people checking me out too…

The two craziest coolest things that we did there was the aroma sauna a large sauna room set to 185F with dim lights. It was packed with people, and in that one I finally got fully naked, but covered my chest with my long hair and sat appropriately as to not show anything. When everyone- like 20 people- were settled in the room a woman came and poured scented apple-rhubarb water over the steaming rocks and whipped a towel around in the air to spread it. That was intense,…and as I started to sweat and feel light-headed after a few minutes the woman stopped, and I was able to leave (and wasn’t the only one, so I felt proud I made it through).

Then with my towel back on, I went to the bar and had a half-liter glass of Apple Wine and waited for the salt bath.

The salt bath took place in another sauna shower room, but not nearly as hot as the aroma sauna, it was a pleasant hot. With 15 other naked people we sat in the shower sauna and waited till the ‘salt man’ came and handed up big lumps of oiled body salt that everyone started to rub all over their own bodies. A few couples rubbed it on each other. It was a little erotic, but still too hot to actually be erotic.

My skin,mind, and body after the whole experience was brand new! I felt so good and relaxed and by the end of it I wasn’t blushing anymore! But it was definitely something I’ve never done or seen before. Proving Germany remains to be a country full of surprises and excitements.

Nina Simone’s my girl.

Nina knows what she’s talking about. I am so very grateful for everything that I DO have, and I shouldn’t be thinking about what I don’t have. I have spent some of the most amazing 8 months in Spain, and a little ‘complication’ like this shouldn’t bring me down so much.

I had my moment to cry and be sad. To swear and be angry. To drink and be gloomy…and now I can focus again on the good of things….

I GOT MY TICKET TO COSTA RICA

No refund is possible,…I can cancel my CostaRica-Chicago flight for Jul,…and get some credit, but they take out fees etc… I was told I can call the office in Chicago to consider that. Now I’m just waiting in Frankfurt until the office opens. I couldn’t even buy a ticket now if I wanted too, I only have like $150 in my U.S. bank account, all rest is cash! Its cold and raining. All I want to do is hide in bed and cry…but I know that’s not going to help or change anything.

2 pm

The sound of rain outside is soothing, and if I can’t be in Costa Rica right now in bed listening to Dave Matthews and the rain mix together is a close second.

I feel better than yesterday, except for my eyes and throat, so I won’t be making any scenes like yesterday. I’m really hoping that when I make some calls today I’m not remembered as the girl who went crazy in the airport yesterday, I was half excepting to me escorted out of the place I was so upset.

I’ll try to figure whats up and post my plans on here. Its going to be complicated if I don’t get any money back, or have to buy a completely new flight. I have around $1200 and two more months of student loans to pay….I don’t know what would be worse,…not going to Costa Rica at all…or going to Costa rica and try to live off of $200 in for a month.

At Paul’s sisters house we were all making jokes that blow-jobs cost around 20 Euros here,…hand jobs 10. Charge 5 to watch….

—> Its a joke!!! I seriously would never consider that!!!  <—-

So…I’m going to get start looking at my options. I’m calm again now. I have to be…anger and sadness make you too irrational at times,…and I need my smarts with me today.

11:30 am