I returned from Spain and promptly posted vacation photos to Facebook with my buck-toothed grin even hammier than usual. I glowed with the bright red blush of Jamón Ibérico, after consuming enough thin pig sheets to wallpaper a bathroom. Giant naked pig legs dangled in almost every storefront, showy and vulgar like a red light district. I salivated and dropped €2 coins, carrying on like homina homina homina. What a disgusting pervert. I guess the good news is I don’t ever have to visit Amsterdam, but I should probably visit a cardiologist.
I tell you. People rave on and on about the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, so I’m both confused and happy to report that apparently you can eat all the ham and cheese you want. And in the words of the talented Liz Lemon:
I learned even more lessons in Spain, some profound and others just dumb conclusions based on a very small sample size. As someone who started my professional career with a heavy dose of statistics, I happily admit that I’ve got no business making broad cultural claims based only on my twelve days in two cities. But it was twelve solid days worth of sopping up the culture with the crust of my pan con tomate, dabbing the plate and signaling for the check while trying not to sound or look too American (and failing). So believe me or don’t. I can only tell you that I saw and heard and felt something very special in Spain, and that I now have a severe and fiscally dangerous case of wanderlust.
Statistically Unreliable Lessons
- I am both better and worse at Spanish than I thought. This is great news. Somewhere, Rebeca Moreno, my college Spanish teacher, is smiling in delight – mostly because she’s adorable and perfect, pero también porque ella me enseño español con éxito. I think.
- No matter where you go, pigeons and French teenagers are gross and annoying.
- The difference between my fluency in Spanish when I’m tired compared to when I’m rested is like noche y día. When I’m tired, I have neither the courage nor faculty to produce coherent sentences. When I’m rested, I’m a diligent little robot with artificial intelligence, planning a benevolent world takeover.
- When people say to “dress in basics” so you can rotate the same items and have a different look, I never really understood that. I prefer dumb, literal graphic tees that provide context clues about my comically loud personality, such as the one I’m wearing now, which has a cookie and a carton of milk holding hands and declaring their love for each other. Subtlety has never been my strong suit. But guys, when I packed for this trip, I did it with solid color shirts in varying shades of white and black and blue. I wore the same three items like eighteen times in a row and no one was the wiser (until now). Pretty smart strategy, guys!
- If I moved to a Spanish speaking country, I would take cabs everywhere. Not because I’m scared of public transit and not because I’m lazy. But rather because cab drivers are the best audience for a chatty nerdbot. And everybody wins. The cabbies and me, we’re equally needy of meaningful human contact, afraid of awkward silences, and eager to talk to people. It’s perfect! In related news, cabbies in DC continue to be the worst service providers and human beings in the universe.
- If you just talk to people… if you just try… they’ll like you so much more. I think this is a universal truth, not just when you are not a native speaker. Being shy or reserved is so boring.
- I like to think that I’m cautious about love. But boy, do I fall hard and fast for new cities. Be still, my beating heart. I LOVE YOU BARCELONA! I’M COMING BACK FOR YOU!
- I like men before they have a chance to try. When they’re in public with their parents or jogging angrily because they forgot an umbrella. One morning, I went exploring in Las Ramblas and saw a twentysomething man chaperoning a sea of elementary school kids. He was up to his neck in questions, holding hands with a boy on his left and a girl on his right. With his baby face, dark spiky hair, square jaw, and athletic build, dude was already crazy hot and checking every box on my survey. But this was some next level shit. He smiled, kind of embarrassed of his situation. Aaaaand I blushed for the next eleven blocks. If you want to make my heart race, do less.
- I could more easily live in Spain than most English-speaking countries. Before you roll your eyes and call me a pretentious twat, I need you to understand why. I firmly believe that I could make it through the discomfort and challenges of learning Spanish. I also firmly believe that a car would run me the fuck over in England, South Africa, Australia, and so on. Language – I can learn by practice and making mistakes, but the instinct to look left at intersections is one mistake away from DEADSIES.
- Spanish dudes are not afraid to hold eye contact with a woman. Holy smoldering eyefucks, Batman! I was 0-45 on accidental staring contests. I’m not sure where they get the confidence, but it’s audacious and bold and wicked hot.
- They don’t make legs like mine in Spain, and I got the commensurate confused stares to prove it. Wage said it was because I was wearing shorts, but I don’t agree. I’ve seen that look before. It’s the look that screams “Shawtaaaay!” from the window of a car moving through an intersection. I’m convinced I would not fit in any pants in Europe. These women have some skinny bird legs.
- In related gigantic leg news, I ran almost every morning of the trip. More morning runners in DC than Barcelona. Then again, DC is naturally uglier than Barcelona so we have to work harder, don’t we?
- “Unnamed sources” note that Catalan people are known for being “grumpy and incompetent.” Maybe so, but those people know how to make jamón.
- When I don’t know what someone is saying, I smile a lot. I believe this is good manners because who would want to help a sad or angry nincompoop?
- Anyone who believes that if you’re in America you should immediately speak English and only English is a jingoist idiot loser. Straight up. You people sicken me.
- Being blonde is a dead giveaway that I’m not from these parts. Not that this rubia is complaining…
- According to Barcelona, rollerblades are back in! Also, this guy doesn’t give a WHAT.
- I didn’t brush my hair all week and it looked pretty fucking awesome. Look out world! I’m compromising my hygiene again!
- They really don’t drink water in Spain, and they sure don’t give it to you free with your meal. In related news, beer and wine are as cheap as water. In related news, this is personally inconvenient for me and I’m seeking reparations. And by that, I mean I’m depleting the Ferraros’ supply of ginger green tea.
- Why is it that being a tourist is so exquisitely embarrassing? There is really nothing that feels less cool than being a tourist. As someone who has never hurried to fit in or worried about standing out, my God, there were times I wanted to throw my camera into the bushes and evaporate.
- It makes no sense at all, but there is nothing more purposeful than getting lost in a new place. I don’t want a plan. I don’t need a plan. I don’t want facts, I want experiences. If I can’t find my way home, I’ll just stay here and look at the beautiful Spaniards.