“Llesta, llesta!” the bank teller yelled at me.
I didn’t know what she was saying but by the way she was waving her arms at me, I didn’t have to guess. I was done.
That was one of the many steps I had to take in order to get my Spanish I.D.
“Yes, finally, I have everything I need to get this damn I.D.” But as soon as I sat down, the woman told me my U.S passport photo was too big. Of course.
Everything in Spain is smaller
The toilet paper.
Why is everything in the United States so big anyway?
That was basically how I spent my first few days in Spain. Dealing with Spanish bureaucracy, printing things, and looking up random Spanish and Basque words. Yes, I know, not exactly the most exciting things.
On my second night, homesickness hit me HARD. I didn’t see it coming and I didn’t know what to do with myself. Also, being jetlag and sleep deprived didn’t help.
I turned on the TV to distract myself, hopped on my laptop to try to get work done but it didn’t work. My mind felt flat and tired.
I felt disoriented and out of it. I lied on my bed to try to sleep but all I could do was toss and turn. It really sucked but all my years of traveling has also taught me it’s normal. I waited for it to pass like a stomach ache.
The next morning, I woke up to the sound of my Airbnb host cleaning. I didn’t know what time it was and still felt drowsy from my sleeping meds, but I forced myself to get up.
I went out to the supermarket, came back, made myself lunch, and had a nice conversation with my Airbnb host.
She was a very friendly woman in her 50s. She moved here from Bolivia about 20 years ago. She told me she came here to escape her abusive ex-husband.
I listened in awe but couldn’t help but feel slightly guilty that I came here by choice. I decided to make tomorrow count.
It wasn’t long before excitement started to creep in. I started exploring neighborhoods one by one. Wandering around without a destination at times. Taking pictures and observing people.
I was alone. Truly alone. This fact terrified me but at the same time exhilarated me.
I went to the Guggenheim Museum, I went to the flower market, I went to church, I walked along the river until I didn’t know where to go anymore.
Making New Friends
Then on my fifth day, I decided it was time to make some friends. I connected with some people from Couchsurfing and ended up having a great time.
There were five of us. Each of us with a different personality but connected by the fact that we were all solo female travelers with a thirst for adventure.
We bonded, went to the beach, played games, and shared bits and pieces of our lives over pintxos and txakoli (Basque-style tapas and wine). Female camaraderie in its truest forms.
The next day, we went for bike rides, fancy food, and more beach time!
During my first week here, I could only summon enough confidence to say “Hola” and “Gracias” to store employees. It’s a miracle that I even got my I.D.
But in my second week, I started ordering things in Spanish and telling the cashiers at the supermarket “Yo tengo una bolsa!” (I have a bag!) with way too much enthusiasm than is necessary before they even ask me.
It’s not much but it’s progress and I’m excited to learn more.
Something else that was new this week was that I moved into a new Airbnb but unfortunately, it hasn’t been that great of an experience. I don’t want to get into it but let’s just say I’m excited to leave tomorrow.
Tomorrow, I’ll be moving to a third place, my final destination, the place where I’ll call home for the next 9 months.
YA ESTA. Done. Ready.