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Thank you to all who commented on my last post or sent messages! It is amazing to be so far from home but know that there are so many friends and family out there who are reading and thinking about me, and trust me, I am thinking about you too. I have found that when I am travelling alone, I feel very content to reflect on experiences from years ago. For no apparent reason these things pop into my head in the most random places. I am sure psychologists have a word for it and if you know what it is, post it in the comments section.

I just returned to Scotland from Spain. I admit I was not thinking about how large the country is and how little time six days is to do everything when I decided to take this trip about 10-days ago. Upon my arrival in Malaga on the southern coast, I spent time in and around the city and in the Picasso Museum, largely filled with other European tourists. After a couple of days I went northeast to Granada where I intended to stay for a day or two before moving on either to Almeria or Seville. Instead, I found myself feeling very much at home at the Mochi hostel, located a few cobble and windy streets over Plaza Nueva.

The first morning in Granada I woke early and headed out to tour the city. After having been in the country for a couple of days, I was growing comfortable with the Spanish I had learned in high school and college, and I went to a local cafe for a small breakfast. I recognized “tostada” but wasn’t sure of the word “mantequilla”. Since I was feeling so good about my enhanced language abilities, I thought I would experiment (those of you who know Spanish, please try to control your laughter).
So… I’m sitting there in my chair looking out over the terrace feeling wonderfully jubilant about myself while wondering what I’m going to get when the waiter comes back with my toast and…butter. Yes! I ordered butter!

Very quickly my growing sense of confidence was deflated so I hunkered down and quietly ate the breakfast, ego back in check.
I spent the next couple of days enjoying the sights and sounds of the city and immersing myself in its culture. One day, Mylene, a single early 30s science teacher from Quebec on sabbatical, took me around to some of her favorite places. Time flew as we enjoyed small plates of fresh food – everything from wonderful sliced potatoes in a light green chili sauce to octopus and fresh veggies – and talked with some of the locals and compared parallels in our lives.

As time passed I felt pressure to get out of the city, to do more, to see more, but then I promised myself this will not be my last trip to Spain. I was very much at home in this friendly little town and in spite of my inherent need to go, go, go, I have to remind myself once in a while that it is okay to just relax and take life at a slower pace.

Maybe that’s why all of these wonderful memories are flooding back?

I’m not focused, nor do I really care what happens tomorrow or if I get on the wrong bus (again), or if I don’t sleep well at night because of loud neighbors. These things just don’t matter, at least not enough to get upset about. People matter – my friends, my family – the experiences we share and the memories we make. That’s what matters most to me and I had no idea that even though I’m so far away, I’d feel so close.

What matters to you when you travel?

Next up:
April 3, 10-hour bus ride into London to meet Brad at the Heathrow Airport
April 4-7, Paris
April 8-18, Italy
This is all a bit flexible as we may be going to Germany at some point to meet my brother who is an Air Force pilot.
April 22-24, London

April 2009
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