Sunday, 15 December 2013

Here today, Spain tomorrow! Not sure what to be doing with myself right now

If you haven't heard, I decided yesterday to go to Spain tomorrow.  If you’re like most people I’ve told, you might be nodding empathetically.  And about ten minutes later, realize what I actually said.  I barely believe it myself, but it’s happening. 

Why Spain? Why now?  I’ll tackle the second question first- this week, I switched my dissertation topic and went from a 0% to 60% completion overnight, with my committee member’s blessings.  I also retroactively got reimbursed with two grand of student fees (thank you National Science Foundation!).  Switching my dissertation topic also means the clock is ticking for me to take advantage of the flexible freedom of graduate school and being able to write from everywhere.  And the way time flies these days, I’ve realized time is the most precious resource and what better time to live life to the fullest than when you’re young, able-bodied and relatively free?
Why Spain?   They say Disney World is the happiest place on earth but when I look at pictures of Barcelona’s carefree, colorful architecture, I can’t imagine how anyone could walk around the city without a smile on their face.  I’m completely smitten (and expect to be disappointed) but until I see it for myself, I’ll keep dreaming about skipping through streets surrounded by a blend of modern, gothic and renaissance self-expression.  It’ll be nice to revive my Spanish skills before they meet an irreversible demise.  I’ve never been to Europe and it should be a pretty safe place for my first completely unchartered solo travel adventure.  And because one of my couch surfing friends here is going to Madrid over break (he's Brazilian but has lived in Madrid the last nine years and loves it) and he didn’t think my plan was crazy.  Well, maybe he did, but he thought random adventures like this give life flavor.  If other people in Spain embrace this kind of insanity, I’ll be in a good place.  And last-minute flights were absurdly reasonably priced.  We’ll see if those are actually good reasons.
I know probably should be a frenzied machine of frantic preparation but things are falling into place so I thought I deserved a writing break.  The past 45 minutes I spent dancing in one sock and teal leggings, transporting random articles from my closet into my backpack to Shakira radio on Pandora.   Multi-tasking packing with practicing my salsa shake made one of my least favorite activities infinitely more bearable. 
And as previously mentioned, I think I’m in pretty good shape for the next two weeks.  Within 48 hours of this decision, I have an itinerary and I’ve found friends almost everywhere I’m going.  Between Otta, his friends and couch surfers, I’ve got plenty of help for three days in Madrid.  I found a Greek girl who I should be able to travel to and stay with in Grenada.  From Grenada, I’ll take the overnight train to Barcelona where several friendly people volunteered to show me around.  For the Christmas festivities, I’ll be celebrating and staying in a hostel with a couple other travelers- an Indian engineer who works with Saab in Switzerland currently and his American friend that he met at the University of Maryland.  From there, I’m flying to Lisbon where three people offered to host me.  I’m getting such good vibes from that city and can’t wait!  After four days in Lisbon, I’ll fly back to Madrid and fly home in time to watch the acorn drop in Raleigh for New Year’s Eve.
So we’ll see how this goes! I’m leaving my computer home so I’m not sure how many pictures and good quality posts I’ll be able to share during my journey.  I want to switch to Wordpress one of these days but that’s why I decided to wait a little longer because pecking on an ipad does not lead to award-winning narration. 
I’ll close with a quote from Jack London, “I would rather be ashes than dust.  I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot.  I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in a magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.  The function of man is to live, not to exist.  I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.  I shall use my time”.