lunes, 22 de agosto de 2011

Life Vest Under Your Seat

A few weeks into my poetry class with Ernesto in June, he gave us a poem to read by Luis Garcia Montero, entitled, “Life Vest Under Your Seat.” While I gobbled up the words and zoomed through the text, enraptured by the style and the theme, the other “students” stared at the poem blankly, occasionally looking up to feign a smidgen of caring. After going over the poem with us, Ernesto shot me one of those pleading, “please give me meaning to my apparent waste of time in this classroom four days a week at 9:00 am” glances and I raised my hand as quickly as I could. I opined that I adored the poem very much and that he could be expecting to see it as my final blog entry upon leaving Spain on August 18 – a date that seemed impossibly far away that, with any luck, I would never come close to reaching.

Weeks passed, another new term of classes started up in July. Once again, Ernesto presented the poem. Not so shockingly, it went once again misunderstood and unappreciated by the sheeplike simpletons and I was left to give Ernesto one of those classic, “WTF?” head nods, which he responded to with a sly smile and a half-wink. I decided then that simply posting the poem would not be enough; I would re-write it to put a modern, authentic “me” spin on the whole thing. Yes, that's what I'd do on the eight and a half hour airplane ride, I'd decided.

Once again, weeks passed, school was over for good, I went on the cruise, traveled around with L, and, one day, awoke finding it to in fact be the 18th of August and my Spanish parents downstairs ringing the bell to come take my luggage to the car and drive L and me to the airport. When I arrived at the terminal, in a hell of a daze of disbelief and sadness, I squealed and squeaked and exclaimed, “But I forgot something very important! I forgot to bring my copy of the Life Vest Under Your Seat poem! How am I supposed to re-write it if I don't have it?!” L looked at me a little strangely, as to any normal human being, there is no need to freak out about forgetting something once you're at the airport unless you left your passport or something else Very Essential behind.

As I sat in my seat and buckled my seatbelt, I couldn't help but giggle when I looked up. See, I was sitted in the first seats of the mid-section of the plane and so instead of a tray-table in front of me, there was a little wall with nothing on it but a pouch of magazines and a sign:

I wasn't sure whether my giggle would turn into a smile or into tears, and so I turned my iPod on to play "Only Exception" on repeat and smile up until tears would win out everytime at the point in which she sings, "I've got a tight grip on reality but I can't let go of what's in front of me here. I know you're leaving in the morning when you wake up; leave me with some kind of proof it's not a dream."

As it turned out, I spent the whole flight back going between crying, sleeping and eating then more crying with a little sleeping and eating. There would have been not enough focus to write something so highly anticipated. Ernesto wrote on my Facebook the day I got back, “Le echo algo en tu blog,” and there are no words to describe just how important and squishy that made me feel! I assured him it was coming – to have patience as I promised to write it and post it this weekend; that I certainly hadn't forgotten.

And so I put it off until today (Sunday, 21/8) – and I can say in all honesty that I couldn't have written a truer version of this wonderful poem if I'd started it the second I left. Mixing the original structure with my own feelings and experiences all while translating it from Spanish to English has calmed me like nothing else could all day long.

Jet-set Cupcake

Life Vest Under Your Seat
(Chelly's Version)

Good afternoon ladies and gentleman,
and Madrid already behind me,
the exquisite, old buildings of Spain
framing a jaded, hardened yet delicate girl,
good afternoon ladies and gentleman,
we're currently flying high at an altitude of two thousand feet,
high like my sanguine hopes
after responding to your first email, a question,
you asked could you show me around the city sometime,
according to international regulations,
you'll find four emergency doors on this aircraft,
or how about a stroll around Parque Europa, maybe cupcakes in Retiro,
living without expectation, practically limitless
the many ways the nighttime looked, we'd watch clouds
turn into stars, always taking the night bus
always amusingly too late for our own good,
you giving me the window seat; your favorite seat,
we're flying at a velocity of nine hundred
kilometers, I told you
the truth; how I felt,
that last night after a picnic turned to stone tears,
because I want to remember you at home, cabbaging,
preparing for long walks with copious amounts of water bottles,
under the sweating, cornflower sky
of Spain's late afternoons,
sweaty like the two basking in the glow of half-light,
with Madrid already behind me,
the truth; how I felt,
they ask us to please use
our seat belts, not to unbuckle them
until the captain has turned off the seat belt sign,
make sure seat-backs,
you have to message me, are in the upright position.

Day 81: The Day I Once Believed Would Never Come

After such an emotionally charged night, waking up early was certainly not what I wanted to do. But waking up early and facing the fact that my Spanish parents were going to be buzzing the doorbell at any moment and I still wasn't packed and wanted nothing to do with leaving my beloved Spain? THIS was the LAST thing I wanted to do.

Unsurprisingly, I was a bit of a mess. I scrambled to pack things and before I could even get my shoes on, my madre was buzzing for me to open the door so that Jesus could come get my Giant Pink Suitcase. As they walked into L's apartment I smiled, flustered, and attempted Spanish but my words flailed in my throat where the tears seemed to be silently gathering themselves, waiting for the last of the last goodbyes when they would burst out all over my face and consume my 9 hour plane ride and soak my sleeves in snot.

I hopped around, trying to get my shoe on when L impatiently told me to sit down and she'd put it on for me. Cruz laughed and joked, "You're such a disaster you can't even get your sneakers on without help!?" Haha. Fact.

Within a few minutes Jesus had (miraculously) moved all of my luggage out of L's apartment, down 4 flights of stairs and into the trunk. We were "ready" to go.

On the short drive to the airport, my padre managed to take the wrong exit and smiled at me and said he was just trying to help my mission of never wanting to leave Spain by helping me be late for my flight. :) The man's adorable words made me smile and giggle for the first real time all morning and I was more than grateful for this. Plus, I knew that in some little way, it wasn't a complete joke. My familia did not want to see me leave any more than I did... <3 And I felt it so strongly to be the truth all the way to the airport.

When we got there, they helped me unpack and find my gate but before long it was good-bye hugs and Jesus needing to return to Alcala as he'd already missed a lot of work that morning to take me to the airport. I thanked them for the ride and later in an email Jesus would tell me, "It was nothing - I do that for all my children." <3

The remaining few hours waiting at the airport?


L did her best not to acknowledge that we were a few minutes away from possibly never seeing each other again and instead showed me silly pictures on her phone and helped me repack my suitcase so that it met the weight limits assigned by the airlines. She refused to cry when I started up and tried to keep me perked up.

And then before I knew it, I was in line for the security checkpoint.

And she was on the other side of the rope.

She smiled and I tried but standing there in that line - facing the great unknown before me and willingly leaving behind the country and the family and the girl I'd grown to love and call home - inspired in me the most ineffable feeling I'd felt in a long, long while. I already missed and longed for what was still in front of me for the next few seconds. Life felt uncharacteristically hopeless for a split second.

I went to grab a bin to put my shoes, coat and laptop in and as soon as I set it down and looked inside a warm feeling of succor bloomed inside of me and embraced my trembling little body.

"LARISAH!" I screamed.

She looked up and I showed her my treasure beaming. There, in that bin, was a tiny little euro penny sent as my last European message of love and reassurance from Conor. <3

L smiled and with that (and a few other words), I was on the other side.

Day 80: Bags to Baggage: Verbal Scars and Illuminated Truths

Twenty-four hours.

That's all that remained of my crazy Spanish summer adventure.

Had I not been planning this last day in my mind for the past few weeks, I would have probably been a wreck - but, happily, I knew just what I would do on my last day. I headed into Madrid and began my usual walk through Malasana, Fuencarral, Chueca, Grand Via, Sol and Opera. I was on a mission: I wanted that one really dorky/touristy pink and green bag I'd been eying all summer long but had resisted.

It was the bag that had "MADRID" scribbled all over it in sparkles. It was the bag that I would wear the hell out of, proudly and with an air of humbled superiority (if that's even possible), all over America. It was the bag that would loudly proclaim, "YES, I'm proof that Chelsea was in Madrid and loved every minute of her time here. Don't you wish you'd had the amazing opportunity and balls to jet-set to another country as amazing as Spain, yourself!?"

I'd seen it virtually everywhere all summer - in kiosks on the street next to the postcards, in little touristy shops, in big touristy shops - just everywhere. So when I reached Sol and Opera (the touristy shop capital of Madrid) and had not seen ONE pink and green version of the bag, I began to stress. I walked in a loop and tried again, purchasing those crazy pink Arabic pants I'd also been craving all summer (thinking they'd be perfect for Portland's love of being uniquely weird) and a few little things for L along the way. Still, no bag. It was getting late and it was almost time to pick up L from work for the last time to go on our picnic. "One more store," I thought to myself.

And there it was, hiding in the corner. Finally!

I was exhausted from my hunt and walking all over Madrid when I finally arrived at the San Bernardo station to meet L. We journeyed a little further, seeing as it wasn't quite sunset time yet, to get a Starbucks mug for part of my mom's souvenir and then headed to our colinas at the Buenos Aires station.

As we passed the market where she'd first taken me mysteriously months earlier to buy sushi for our first picnic atop the gorgeous little hills overlooking the breathtaking city of Madrid, I smiled. As we passed the fire station headquarters where the second time we picnicked atop the gorgeous little hills she took me around, insisting this would be a shortcut, but quickly realizing (but not admitting) that she was sorely mistaken and we'd had to climb mountains of stairs to even reach the base of the hills, I giggled. As we passed the gravel pathway, I looked up at the sky, remembering the night we went there to watch the solar eclipse and how she helped me study for my final the next day, all while looking everywhere in the night sky as impatient as a small but adorable child for the missing moon, I gazed over at her. As we passed by the first hill where she'd first kissed me that night in early June when we'd flirted and feasted and she'd tested my stubbornness, ultimately giving in with a whispered, "Puedo?" in my ear, I melted and squeezed her hand.

In a mere few months, this was what my life had turned into.

My whole life I'd always said that if (or, rather, when) I am to die, above all other causes of death, I should be very pleased to die in a plane crash. First, dying doing what you love (traveling), is always the way to go. Second, I figure there'd be a brief panic, a nice high (if the oxygen masks swing down and you believe Chuck Palahniuk when he says the pure oxygen acts not as a way to re-pressurize the cabin but as a pure drug to instantly calm you) and then an ultimate, blithe acceptance of your looming death.

Sometimes, when I've been all alone, I've laid still and pressed my mind for details of how I arrived here - into this perfect, blissful little state of existence - and wondered if on my plane ride over to Spain I didn't get my wish (to die in a plane crash) and this new life I was living in Madrid was just a form of heaven. I mean, damn, some philosophies even say you pick up right where you left off when you died - so maybe things just get a little more heavenly with each death/rebirth?

Since arriving in Spain, life had seemed just that: Heaven on Earth. Now that I was about to leave, would it go back to seeming like normal life, or had I been so transformed here that my sense of celestial serendipity would continue with me as I was truly in a new stage of my life that was not based solely on my current location and acquaintances?

As we sat, picnicking and burrito cuddling ourselves in the blanket, I pondered this for a moment and decided on the latter explanation of things. Just at that moment, my madre called to confirm at what time she needed to pick me up the next morning to take me to the airport. After talking for a bit, she told me that my padre would be taking the morning off of work to accompany us there!! AWW!!! <3

This news left me happier than could be! We burritoed further into the picnic blanket and laid there giggling and full from our mini feast.

... and then it started.

Tiny comment by tiny comment and suddenly L was alluding back to our first night on that hill when she'd defensively jested, "You get all this, and a summer fling, too!" I'd vowed to myself to make her see that this was not how I considered her or us. All summer I'd thought I was on the right path to accomplishing this self-made goal until I had a brief moment of questioning on the train ride to Barcelona and cried and blogged about it, saying that if she ever still thought such a thing, I wouldn't know what to do with myself and the failure this would implicate.

And so she said it. She said she had only been a summer fling to me and she knew it. Caught completely off guard, her words sliced me open one by one until I felt my summer joy start to flood out of me. Maybe this was it. Maybe this all was just a dream and now I was being rudely placed back into the old world where I truly belonged. Maybe this was all just a sweet mirage of happiness and by the time my plane took off the next morning, it would all be just a distant memory of "that one time" when I was "blissfully happy."

I felt deflated. I felt angry. I felt deceived in a backwards sort of way. If she wasn't ever going to open herself to believing that I'd truly cared about her all summer and would continue to no matter what happened when I returned, why had I worked so hard to try to make her feel loved? It was a self-defeating battle on her part and one that I couldn't pick her up out of no matter how hard I tried without losing my own identity and autonomy. I knew. I'd been there too, once, and hoped so hard that I would never be back there.

Silently I packed everything up, put on my shoes, and walked away. We walked back to the metro stop without a touch, a glance or a squeak. We took the metro and the ice wall between us froze over even further until it seemed impregnable. See, I wasn't the type to get mad at her. Her mad at me? Almost on the daily. But me mad at her? And mad at her to the point of wanting to get so far away from her that I couldn't hear or see her ever again for the foreseeable future like I've been known to get with just about everybody else? Unheard of.

I could feel myself turning into the Ice Queen, my verbally inflicted wounds still gushing out hope and happiness, getting infected with disdain and fear and callousing over with inexplicable hurt and guilt. Her cautious gaze of curiosity burned in my peripheral vision and I wanted to spin around on my heels and yell at her, "ARE YOU HAPPY? PUSHING ME TO THE POINT OF THIS JUST TO PROVE I REALLY ALWAYS HAVE CARED ABOUT YOU? RUINING MY LAST, BLISSFUL NIGHT IN MY FAIRYTALE REALITY WITH YOU IN SPAIN! WAS IT WORTH IT?" But instead I bit my lip and looked straight ahead without blinking as long as I could until I felt hot tears graze my cheeks.

She dared not look straight at me, but through the reflection of the metro window she could see the glint of the tiny shards of tears silently streaking my face. Millimeter by millimeter she edged herself closer to me until finally she was hugging me from behind. Her face was that of a guilty puppy who wasn't sure exactly what they'd done wrong - if anything - but saw that their force was much more than they'd realized. I didn't pull away but I continued glaring straight ahead, crying.

As we got off the night bus a little while later, she tried her best to be lighthearted and grinned too innocently, "Are we just not going to talk for the whole way home?" I shot a look at her, and tilted my head just enough to indicate my best, silent "effoffyoujustruinedmylastnightbitch" nod. By the time we got home we quickly went to opposite rooms of the apartment so as not to have to interact.

There have been very few times I have been so upset and angry that the only solution I can think of to calm myself has been alcohol. I can count MAYBE three total on my hand in my short lifetime. This? This was one of them. She fled to her room or the bathroom while I look a sharp right and went for the alcohol cabinet in her kitchen. A few small cupfuls of way-too-warm vodka and some swigs out of a juice container later, I was dizzy and in the mood for nothing but a pre-bedtime shower, as I would have no time in the morning for such nonsense.

The scorching water (and, let's be real, the copious amounts of vodka downed in under five minutes) cauterized my verbally inflicted wounds and turned my hurt and anger into determination. Her insecurity would not win this time. It had been working overtime all summer long against me (and her) and I was not going to let it come out ahead just as we were nearing the end of our summer together. I had eight hours. That was enough to come clean.

Still in my towel, I marched into her room where she lay in the dark, pretending to sleep.

"Get up!" I roared, in a voice more stern and authoritative than I realized mine was capable of being.

She groaned a sleepy, perturbed but timid groan and wiggled to shield herself from the bright light I'd just turned on.

"GET UP!" I demanded, again.

She rolled over.

I'm not sure if I would have ever said it had it not been for how the night turned out (and the help of the vodka later on), but back on the last day of school in July when I'd gone to meditate at the church in Alcala, I'd opened myself up to whatever message was out there for me, and this was it: tell her. I'd tossed it around and turned it over and over in my mind and knew she'd just find a way to take it as some sort of insult, or insult me with it. But it was one of those things that was so true and so dear to me that future implications or consequences for letting it free and illuminating it would be unequivocally worth it. And so I did.

It was my bravest and truest act of the summer.

She cried; she did, too; she wrapped me up in a snuggle ball; sleep came and everything was how it was supposed to be again (and even sweeter) - at least, until morning.

Jet-set Cupcake

Day 79: Home for Lunch

My morning was blurry - literally. I made myself coffee with chocolate chips and had a part of a magdalena. I opened my suitcase and pretended to begin the daunting task of stuffing it full of the past three months of my life. I turned on MTV - Espana. But mostly, I just spent the morning with my view obstructed by all of the tears flooding my eyes and cheeks.

There are some endings I'm good at - like death.

Somebody dies? That means that they've moved on to a new, timeless dimension, but are not just GONE. Because death is so ineffable, I am free to define it however I wish, and thus if I choose to believe death is just an extension of life, then it is. And that's that.

But then there are endings I'm just a mess with - like this one.

The moment I get on that plane, this life I've come to know and love and cherish and all of the people and places that have made it what it is are just... GONE. No more Atocha - RENFE. No more tinto de verano. No more night bus. No more Kiko. No more Desigual. No more napolitanas de chocolate. No more green line to Chueca. No more walking down C/ Fuencarral to see my tattoo/piercing friend. No more school. No more walking by the big gate to the botanic gardens and looking to see if the beige high heel is still there. No more endless, fruitless searches for Hooters. No more receiving little tissues or lighters on the train with sweet little notes from people asking for money. No more being called "guapa" by strangers. No more being adored for being American. No more walks in Retiro. No more living in Spanish. No more humbling confusion because you have to take your produce to the lady in the produce section to weigh instead of taking it to the cashiers to weigh themselves. No more familia, no more L, no more Ernesto. No more.

Sure, I could believe that the next chapter of my life will be just an extension of this one... but I know better than that.

And so I cried. And cried and cried and cried.

Just when the sniffles started and my vision was completely clouded by the droplets of fear and sadness, mi madre called.

"Hola, guapa! Que tal?"
"Hola..." *sniffle*
"Como estas?"
"Pues... un disastre... no puedo dejar de llorar esta manana..."
*giggles* *insert remark gently telling me to calm the hell down*


My madre had called to invite me over to the house for comida with my familia! I wiped the tears from my eyes and jumped in the shower, knowing this would be the last time I'd get to go home for a long, long time. Before I knew it, I was at the train station in Alcala...

... and my madre was there with her car to pick me up and take me home where I knew I belonged for my penultimate afternoon in Spain.

We ate comida. We watched TV (but Entrefanstasmas wans't on... poo). We drank tea and had cookies and chocolate (my madre told me that when she called my padre to tell him I'd be home for lunch, he asked in a frenzy if we had enough chocolate or if he needed to pick some up on the way home?! CUTE!!!). We chatted it up in Spanish.

I truly felt like I was home. <3 And I loved every single minute of it!

At some point in the conversation, my madre asked if I needed a ride to the airport on Thursday, as she'd be more than happy to give me one. Aww!! I told her not to worry - that I could bus it there. But she told me that was nonsense and she knew just how much luggage I had and that she'd be there at 8 am to get me. Timidly, I asked if L might be able to come along, and my padre jumped in and assured me that "claro que si" L would be accompanying us to the airport. Cute!!

Before long it was a little after five o'clock and I needed to start heading back to Torrejon. I had hoped so hard that my padre would offer me a ride on his moto back to the train station - heck, I'd even been sure not to wear a skirt or a dress so that he could. So when he smiled at me and asked if I'd like a ride there, I was beyond blissed out - I was overjoyed!!

We walked downstairs to the basement garage to hop on the moto, but just as my padre opened the door, he quickly shut it again and turned to me, a sly smile tip-toeing across his face. I looked up at him, eyes wide, and cocked my head a little in a questioning gaze. His smile no longer so sly, he told me he had something he wanted to give me, "so that you can always remember us - your family here in Spain." I laughed and asked him what it was he wanted me to have? His eyes lit up and he said, simply,

"That one shirt of mine that makes you giggle every time I wear it."

I stared at him, overcome with the adorableness of his gesture and when he asked if I wanted it, I shook my head furiously, "yes!!" It was the shirt from Zara that had what looked like the Beatles in spacesuits on it with one of them giving bunny ears to one of the others and an arrow pointing at him saying, "The Asshole." The first day I'd seen my padre wear it early in the summer I hadn't been able to stop laughing and asked him if he even knew what that meant. I'd LOVED that shirt, so so so much, from that day on; every time he'd wear it, I'd been equally as amused and he'd find joy in my amusement and somehow a story would come out about my hermana and her experience with English cuss words or my madre would say something hilarious... That shirt just succinctly captured the essence of just how Amazingly Wonderful my familia truly was and what a wonderful summer I'd had being a part of it. <3

He told me to wait there and he ran upstairs to get it. When he returned, he'd folded it into a tiny lump of fabric so that I could fit it into my bag, and told me to make sure I washed it before I wore it, as he'd just worn it the other day and hadn't had time to clean it himself. Haha. Then he told me that he expected me to wear it and send my familia pictures of me proudly displaying it around America!

After he got me helmeted up and we were on the moto, he asked if I didn't just want to go to the next train station up instead of going to the one in Alcala, so that I could get more time on the moto. :) I giggled and said I had a roundtrip train ticket from Alcala, but I supposed it might work at the other station, too, and either way OF COURSE I wanted a longer moto ride!! ^_^

We zoomed around town and once again I felt like the happiest girl in the world, the roasting heat of the Madrid sun being no match for the cool breeze of the open road, my hair dancing in the wind and my smile so big I was afraid I'd get bugs in my mouth! True happiness - no joke.

When we got to the next town's train station, my padre gave me a huge hug good-bye and told me that he'd loved having me there this summer and the family would miss me a lot. He told me I would be welcome back home any time and that I was a true part of the family now. And then I saw a few tiny tears fill his eyes and he smiled and said he'd wait for me, just to make sure my ticket worked at this station.

It was the sweetest of goodbyes. I adored it. <3

And with that I ran inside of the station, realized my roundtrip ticket indeed did not work at that station, but bought a one way to Alcala (I'd wanted to buy a Universidad de Alcala shirt all summer long and now was my last chance - plus, L wouldn't be home for another few hours, so I had time to hang out in my home town for a little bit longer) anyway and went up to the tracks. There, down below, I could see my padre on his moto, looking up, waiting for me. I smiled and waved at him and he waved back. Just at that moment the train going towards Torrejon arrived and I slipped inside the station so that my padre wouldn't see me not boarding. When the train wizzed away, my padre was gone.

I spent the next few hours taking pictures around Alcala of all the quotidian things I knew I'd grow to miss and even start to forget with enough time. I wanted to remember them for what they were and for how familiar they'd become to me. I took pictures of the train station sign, the rose gardens in the Plaza de Cervantes, of the storks and of everything in between on my walk from the train station to the Universidad.

Plaza de Cervantes and a rose.

 The super old church right next to my bus stop and across the way from my university
with the super old tower and some storks up there.

 A view from my university where Instituto de Franklin is located along with a view from the gate of the courtyard between university buildings where I'd study, meditate and eat my napolitana chocolate and drink my pina juice.

I also bought my Universidad de Alcala shirt and a little key chain. I explored and explored, wanting to make a memory and seal the sights, sounds and smells of it all into my mind and heart, until L called to tell me she was on her way home.

The rest of the night was low-key, just how I wanted my penultimate night to be after such a relaxing and slightly emotional day. <3 I knew this feeling of being at home wouldn't last much longer and I don't know when I'll feel this way again... and so I just basked in the comfort of it all.

Jet-set Cupcake

Day 78: McDonald's Euro Value Menu, Planking and a Bus

And then it was time to return home for the final time.

I, however, was not so terribly ready for all of this journey's implications...

Catching the bus back to Madrid meant that I would only get to "return home" one more time... meaning that not only would the next time I leave Madrid be not for a trip but for good... but that after these next few days, I no longer had an official "home" anymore again... :-/

In order to forget about all of these undesirable realizations, L and I got our delicious 1 euro BBQ chicken sandwiches (one for there, one for the road)...


and a 1 euro Kit-kat cone...

and plopped our asses down in the middle of the mall/train station (they were connected... it was weird... but oh-so-convenient) to do one thing and one thing only: Foreign People Watch.


^_^ If ever the people get boring to watch (and, believe me, they don't), you can always switch to Shoe Watching and see a parade of gorgeously adorned tootsies left and right. Hee hee... oh non-American shoes... so beautiful... damn. High heels. Leather sandals. Happiness.

After our 6 euro gourmet lunch, we walked around the mall/station waiting for our bus' departure. A strange area of mosaic sculptures and lots of odd pictures with them later...


we were on the bus (along with a bunch of really really Christian Africans...? Being an American, I have really only met African-Americans and not a whole lot of Africans and was surprised to observe that the two cultures, though stemming from the same continent, are absolutely nothing alike. Nothing.)

My first thought upon boarding thing bus? Boarding --> Planking --> Need Jenna Marbles Photo

Due to limited space, you can barely see what it is I'm doing. But rest assured... that is me planking on a bus on the south coast of Spain damnit! >_< It took a lot of crawling around and weird stares to achieve, okay?? Haha.

The bus ride home was a little bit lazy and a little bit coquettish. I.e. Perfection in a bus trip. ^_^ Still, I was so happy to be home at the end of a beachy weekend in the Costa del Sol. <3

Jet-set Cupcake

Day 77: Sushi, Jellies and Soccer!

After a five hour bus ride without much deep sleep, a day of exploring a new city and a late night at the fair, I was poised to sleep Sunday away. Sergio, however, had different plans for me. Being awoken in the late morning by a knock on the door and a guy's voice telling me gently to please wake up already was an amusing way to start my day!

A shower, some horchata and a mini eternity of waiting for three sisters to get ready, we were off to the beaches of Costa del Sol in Marbella!!!

Ever since I can remember, when somebody would ask me, "If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?" my answer was always immediate and resolute: "Costa del Sol!" Traveling to Europe? Getting sun-kissed on Mediterranean beaches? Copious amounts of the Spanish language everywhere I turned? "Yes, pllllleeeeeaaaassseeee!!!"

On the drive there I felt like I was a completely blissful fantasy: here I was, in the back of a car with the music blaring on the way to sun bathe on the beaches of Costa del Sol -- seriously?! This was more than a dream come true. Damn.

The beach was so gorgeous and the water felt so nice with the 100 + degree sunshine! *Bliss*

Eventually we got hungry, and considering our surroundings, L and I had the exact same thought: what better meal for the beach than SUSHI?! After L's *irrationality* at the supermarket subsided into an honest apology, I was ready for my sushi, gazpacho and shandy and parked myself on my beach towel to enjoy the feast. Yummmmmmy! :)

I'd been telling everyone all day that I would not go very deep into the water because I was absolutely petrified of fish and all sea life in general. Everybody laughed at me and ridiculed me but I stayed firm on my belief: sea life and human beings do not mix well. The end. So when L said she wanted to go take a swim out a little ways, I wished her well and tuned out to my iPod and flopped on my belly to work on my unfortunate shorts tan I'd accidentally gotten on the cruise.

When I opened my eyes a little while later, L was talking to Sergio in a really animated way and ran off to the lifeguard. I turned off my iPod and looked around, bewildered. What was going on...? When L came back to our towel camp all she had to do was show me and I knew. While she was out in the sea she'd been stung but tiny, invisible and evil JELLYFISH. Bastards. UGH. They got her right below the boob and on the back of her left leg. :( I felt so guilty for not watching her when she went out for her swim and wanted to go pay those damn jellyfish back for what they'd done - but, like I said, sea life petrifies me and I was not near brave enough to retaliate on those little mofo's. Poor L and her jellies... :-/

When we all got home it was time for a very serious Spanish night in. Cheese, thinly sliced meats, Martini and football (i.e. "soccer") - Barcelona vs. Madrid. Understanding the international obsession with soccer is a little tricky for the average American to understand. Sure, we have the NFL and college football and basketball and sometimes hockey... and sure, some people get REALLY into it (*coughgreenbaypackerfanscough*)... but it's nothing like the obsessive and passionate love of soccer. NOTHING compares. Except, maybe, for really really zealous religious people. Haha! It's really endearing though once you get sucked into it, too! ;) Go Cruziero and Real Madrid!!! ^_^

Overall it was a nice day at the beach and a nice Spaniard way to end the night. :) Success!

Jet-set Cupcake

Day 76: There's a sea and we don't have swimsuits? There's an H&M! Problem solved.

I woke up really, really late in the day. Does this surprise anybody? It shouldn't. I traditionally wake up late. And the night before had been spent on a BUS! But I guess when you're a guest in somebody's home who you don't eve know, it's rather bad form to sleep the whole day away. So at some point Sergio came and knocked on the door, giving me my sweet little Spanish wake-up call. LOL. I drank my Horchata, got ready as quickly as possible, and stumbled to the car, still half-asleep, to head into town.

As it turned out, Malaga was the place to be this weekend - festivities galore! All the women were dressed in their cute little polka-dot dresses and even some dogs were in the spirit! We wandered the streets, but they were too crowded and loud to really be terribly fun.

Wandering around we found some gorgeous buildings and cute little windy streets but the most exciting thing was when a random American lady ran into us saying her daughter had just gone missing and that added the most excitement to the afternoon... we thought she was trying to scam us, but we went around for a good 15 minutes looking for the girl and alerting the local police. Sheesh!

Little by little we wandered off the path of the festival and found a sweet little market housed in a big warehouse where we purchased authentic French bread, yummy yummy cheese, grapes and nectarines and olives with baby pickles stuck inside them (eww - those were for L). Next was an epic search for water / shandy, which we found an interminable 10 minutes of walking later (hot weather without liquids = not good for girls' moods). We found a bench and plopped our hungry butts down for a good, European meal. On the bench across from us, a little older lady sat and watched us, smiling to herself the whole time. Cute. :)

 After our delicious meal we called L's sisters and found out we'd been ditched in the city for the day. Had we had our bikinis, this would not have been a problem - we were mere blocks from the Mediterranean Sea and the beach - but we were most unfortunately quite clothed. And so? There was only one choice. Hit up H&M rebajas for some cheap swimwear!! ^_^ Mmmm...hell yes! We hit the fitting rooms, made our choices and were on the beach in no time! ;)

We wandered the beach (L swam, I maintained I was deathly afraid of all marine life and would get no where near the water) and had a late afternoon picnic of our left over goodies from lunch. Yummmmy. ^_^

All in all - a very relaxing and improptu beach visit! ^_^ YAY!

By the time L's sisters were back to pick us up and take us to the night fair, I was POOPED.

But the festivities had to go on!! ^_^ Supposedly, Malaga's night-time festival is one of the biggest in Spain - and it sure looked giant! Imagine a state fair - but with clubs and bars and dancers and rides and games and food and music everywhere!! Pretty sweet!! I particularly liked the pic of the three sisters and the random American girl (me) that Sergio took at the entrance. LOL.

My favorite things were that they call Cotton Candy "Algodon" (omg so cute) and the GIANT Ferris Wheel!!!

L's sisters were all about the bumper cars. L and were not. Or, well, I wasn't. Every single time I've bumper cared in the past, I've always ended up wetting my pants - and I really wasn't interesting in wetting my pants around people I barely knew. The first round I opted out, but when L's littlest sister came and asked if we wanted to go, my mouth answered "Si!" before my mind could respond, "No no no no no no no." >_< I giggled. My body got really sore from the head on crashes. And I did not wiz my pants. Successful? Sort of...

On our way out of the fair, we saw a bunch of ladies posing in their traditional Spanish Festival wear - CUTE!!!  ^_^

By the end of the night I was utterly ready to PASS OUT. *YAWN*

Jet-set Cupcake