I just had a rather silly experience at a rest stop in Burgos, en route to Madrid. It must be the fact that I haven't been on a Spanish coach bus in a while, but for whatever reason, I freaked out when I saw the doors close on my bus and I was still inside drinking my cafe con leche and quickly walk/ran for the door, only to discover that my bus was actually sitting behind this bus, hiding, and looked exactly the same as the bus that was pulling away. Oh, the trickery. Too bad a third of my coffee is still sitting lonely on a table inside the bus station.
I plan to take the next three hours of my bus ride like a man, that is to say, awake, and not sleeping with my head bouncing uncomfortably on the window as it has been for the past three hours. This is not a difficult task. For one, I have never been down this road before, physically or metaphysically, and La Mancha is absolutely stunning. I think the silver cloudy sky helps illuminate the surprising redness of the soil and the green of the trees and neatly trimmed fields, preparing themselves for planting in a few months. It is almost perfectly flat in both directions. It reminds me of my train ride from Paris to Stuttgart...oh...a month and a half ago. I was equally impressed and equally drowsy then.
I left San Sebastian before sunrise this morning, though it wasn't nearly as dark as when I was stumbling around Milan at 5:50 AM trying to catch a cable car to the train station to the bus to the airport. It was easy to leave because it is easy to return. Donostia is decidedly one of the places in the world I feel most comfortable. What is it about this place that draws me in, aside from the fact that my “Spanish Family” (this is very difficult to explain to people who haven't known me since about age 14) is more than happy to vacate a bed for me and spoil me rotten with amazing food. They are simply the best and I hope I did my best to assure them that, again, I will be back.
The streets of San Sebastian ebb like the waves in la contxa – the coved beach where year-round surfers do their thing. They move neither quickly nor slowly. The cars seldom honk, people seldom yell, but the cars are always driving, and the people are always chattering. The constant motion doesn't even stop for siesta, as the shops close their doors, people just keep moving. It's natural. Who cares, even. And at night, people flow in and out of bars. I wish I could describe this better. There is simply a fluidity about this city that keeps me so calm.
In the mornings and afternoons I go walking, usually down the same street, and then crossing around new streets. I love to read the shop signs in Basque. I love to look into boutique windows at the clothes I could neither afford nor carry in my backpack. (Just wait until I get to London, when I have no more RyanAir flights and can fill my backpack to an insane 30k!) I am given the simple task of buying a baguette and a newspaper before 2:00, when Isabel returns home for lunch. I try to find the most appealing barra de pan, sometimes failing miserably and buying something that looked good but happened to be the hardest, most tooth breaking bread I have even tried.
On my last visit, when the weather was incredibly warm and summer was still obviously lingering, I stayed out for hours with my “sisters” and their friends, drinking...I think the easiest thing for me to order in Spanish was a Cuba Libre – go figure...and dancing to Spanish club music I had never heard in clubs filled with people and filled with smoke. Taking a taxi home at 4:30 set a new record for me.
This time, the winter has set in. There is still time for pintxos, there is still time for beer. But what sets this time apart was that I got to finally ride on a moto. Oh yes, I got to ride on the back of a motorbike. OK, it wasn't some Spanish hunk who pulled up to the sidewalk and propositioned me to hop on, it was Maider's boyfriend. But let me tell you, I loved it. And I wasn't scared. It was just that good. And the night was completed with yet another culinary conquest – a cheeseburger with a fried egg. You aren't living, my friend, until you've put an egg on your burger. Protein on protein, is all I can say.
I can't tell if this blog is continuing to divulge my spiritual and emotional journey or is turning into a food diary...
Either way, it is November 17th and I have two amazing things to look forward to, although you can guess which one I am possibly more excited for in the long term. Tomorrow morning, I fly to Dublin, of which I have no expectations, and I plan to hoof it, pretty much as thoroughly as I can, around Ireland in 12 days. 12 days, I can do that. So long as I make my flight on the 1st of December from Belfast, and I have no doubt that will happen. Sometimes I think of a video I watched before I left – one of the Last Lecture series. He said “Brick walls are placed in front of us to separate those who really want something from those who don't”. I think of this a lot on public transportation.
The other is Australia. The more I think about it, the excited I am. I am literally an infinitely expanding balloon of excitement. Unfortunately, the more I think about it, the more I think, Damnit Caitlin, you are going to Porpoise Spit, aren't you? I am going to end up in Porpoise Spit. That's the image I have managed to create in my mind, and while I am no Toni Collette, I do love ABBA, and that puts me halfway there. Well, not even that can pop my balloon. Jeez, I'm going to be in the land of the kangaroo, and the wombat, and the cane toad, god bless it. So it can't be all that bad. In fact, I bet it will be wonderful.
In the meantime, I predict green fields, rain and Guinness in my future.