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The week spent in the Spanish countryside flew by. They are such lovely people and I am so excited to return someday and see all of the friends I made again. Throughout the week there were nights spent drinking cava, (like Spanish moonshine lit on fire), singing national songs and christmas carols, a night dancing, taking trips to town, and we really got to know each other pretty well. It was a big group, over 50 people, but somehow we all bonded. I think everyone was included and appreciated. We did a lot of fun activities and theatre acts, one of which I was the host of a fake talent contest, and everyone came out of their shell, really. And everyone said they recognized my stage presence. Our lunch and dinner conversations flowed easily and everyone had something interesting to say, even if the Spanish were only understanding a small part, they still tried to have an input. It was easy to drink and chat with everyone after dinner, too, and when we had the party, we didn’t need to try to convince anyone to dance – everyone was on the floor shaking it. And the times I had one on one with people were all so lovely, and we all found something in common with each other. Allan is right, we are all the same.
It was great to meet the other Anglos and be inspired by their travels, as well as the Spaniards who have travelled. I have people to visit all over Spain now, in Malaga, where I’ve wanted to go now for awhile, Grenada, Valencia, Barcelona, Vego, and a bunch of people in Madrid. Sometime I’ll have to spend a few weeks just around Spain. Also, Leanne did a presentation on things that can kill you in Australia, so I feel good about my idea to live in New Zealand, rather, for a few months maybe, and just visit down under. Maite, one Spaniard who reminded me of my aunt Liza, (she was so funny, had me practically crying at dinner one night), did a presentation on the Maldives and Sri Lanka that was very interesting and I’ve added that to my list as well. And Patricia told me about her trip to Cuba and now I’m convinced that I have to figure out how to get there soon, too. Noula, from Ireland, gave me some tips about Lisbon that I’ve totally been taking advantage of.
Halfway through the week, I surprised everyone with a couple songs on the Spanish guitar, and the rest of the week everyone was asking me why I didn’t do more of that/professionally. Ultimately I don’t think I’m good enough for that, but I explained that I am working to write my own songs and that it would be cool to play with a band. On our last night, we stayed up till after 4am jamming. It was so fun. Adolfo, an older adorable Spaniard, was super excited to welcome us back to his villa so we could be out of the cold. He was so drunk and making everyone drinks from the mini bar. It was so cute. And I finally played the Lost Boy song thats been stuck in my head (basically since Germany when I was in the car share with Christian), and that felt really good to get out. Because I am a lost boy. (But realizing that I have to enjoy being lost, because I am really finding so much out about myself).
A lot of my one on one chats were really nice. Paco told me about his 30 years at Hearst and how he got in when the company had started, and about his daughter, who’s about my age, and how they taught her English and French early on, and now she’s in Germany learning that language. He was really sweet and we talked a lot throughout the week. He had done the program before and had really good English and I could tell it was like returning to a little bubble for him, away from work and responsibilities.
Jeanna told me I should try to set up an exchange program for families to host kids in Chicago. She was an adorable yogi, such a spitfire, who works really hard and does everything she can to take care of her family. She was really fun to talk to. Jaquin was an investment banker who had a very stoic presence, but once, we got chatting on our trip to the village, and had a really nice conversation about his life and how he met his wife in business school, and their decision to not have children and secretly get married in the court house. Then later on, talked about how his super religious sister had a bunch of kids that all turned out to get divorced or something really non religious, and we talked about how despite when family members make decisions we don’t necessarily believe in, we’re still there for them when they need us. We also really connected about how we travel, how we enjoy seeing how other people live, rather than trying to do all the touristy things and stressing out. I was pleasantly surprised by how well we got along, honestly. Nacho was an adorable guy who had a very cool persona, but was actually so caring, and he played guitar, so we had a lot of fun jamming together on the last night. He was so talented. He was married but didn’t have kids and his brother has health problems, and after his trip to Ghana for his masters in Finance, he learned a lot about how he didn’t necessarily want to be a businessman, and is learning English to broaden his opportunities.
I also really enjoyed this program because there were a lot of girls my age. Like Margra, who I mentioned I met on the bus, who was so funny and sweet and I was so happy to share my villa with her all week. She has been with her boyfriend for 7 years now and lives in Malaga and I will definitely be visiting her someday. Maria was soo sweet, too, and we talked a lot about Asia because she had just visited Japan, and she was a late night party girl, like me… And we talked about how funny it was that Mamma Mia was such a scandalous show. We never had a one on one, but often found ourselves chatting at the bar. One night, they let us back into the bar after it had closed, and me and Maria and Maribel and initially super shy Jose, had a few more drinks with the owner’s son, (who was a creep), but it was a really fun night with them. Also, Aurora, was more reserved, but so nice, and had a great laugh, and was the only single Spanish girl there, so we bonded about not needing a boyfriend and enjoying living in a flat with our friends.
I am just so impressed with this program and how people can get to know each other so well after only a week. It really is like summer camp for adults, except with a lot of linguistic work, but not in a bad way. I spoke with Allan about how he became an MC and he said I could really email him if I was really interested. He said a lot of people often tell him that they want his job, but he has only sponsored two people in his 6 years of this job. I don’t know if it is something I want to pursue immediately, because I think I would have to live in Spain, but, maybe later in life. I would love to lead people to come together in such a beautiful way.
We all started a chat group and are still talking and sending each other pictures of our adventures. I hope we all continue to stay in contact. It was such a great week.