BY SARAH HEMADI
This will be my last week in Spain. It is a bittersweet feeling. I am excited to go home because I have missed my friends and family, and I am excited about starting the fall semester at Cal State Fullerton. As the saying goes, there is no place like home. But since I have lived in Spain for about a month now, Spain is starting to feel like home in some ways. I have become very close with my host mother, Eva, and I have gotten exceptionally close with my roommate, Ashley. Before I got here, I wondered what it would be like sharing a room with someone else, but we bonded over our love of ice cream and have pretty much eaten all of the desserts in Spain.
I have spent the past couple of days hanging out at the only American store in Spain. It is the only store in Spain that sells Dr. Pepper and apparently is one of the main reasons people shop there. It was opened by a woman who moved to Spain from Kentucky 17 years ago, and I am writing a feature article on the shop. The shop has only three employees right now because it is a slow time of year, but everyone who works there is friendly. The funny thing about the shop, though, is that the majority of their products are junk food. I also have been trying unsuccessfully to set my host mom up on dates. And even though nothing has worked out, she has been a good sport about meeting up with strangers for coffee. I don’t know if I could be that brave. That is another thing I will miss about Spain. Most of the people here are so laid back and seem so much more open to new experiences. They also seem to be more open to making new friends.
Speaking of new, I went on a barco fiesta (party boat) with Ashley last night. The last time I went on one of those was with my sister during our vacation in Hawaii—except Americans and Spaniards seem to have a completely different idea about what a ride on party boat is supposed to be. In Hawaii, it was a sunset cruise that lasted two hours. They gave us a nice meal, unlimited cocktails and they played mellow hits by Jack Johnson. But I knew when Ashley and I boarded the boat last night that things would get crazy. We had only been on the boat for about 15 minutes when a huge wave crashed against our boat. I was soaked and wearing a dress that I borrowed from Ashley. It was a little chilly to be on a boat for three hours while wearing a wet dress. The crew served a quick dinner of burgers, chicken wraps, and tapas, but before anyone could finish, they started folding the tables and turned our dining room into a discotheque. Ashley and I had only one cocktail each, but it was amusing to watch the thirstier passengers dance and cut loose—including two batchelorette parties and their respective brides—as cheesy pop songs mingled with strobe lights for the rest of the night.
Today Ashley and I decided to visit the Catedral de Valencia, the city’s most famous church. Visitors are given the option to pay two Euros to climb the 207 steps up its even more famous bell tower. But after walking up about a third of the way, the constant clanging of the bells was giving me a headache, and the narrow stairwell was making me feel claustrophobic. I felt hot, tired and dizzy, so Ashley forged on without me.
We had just bought souvenirs at the shop when we noticed that a wedding party had left hundreds of rose petals covered the steps of the church. I don’t know that much about the tradition of the rose petals at weddings, but the church steps always look so beautiful. This is the third time Ashley and I have come upon either the beginning or end of a wedding since we’ve been here. While Ashley took photos of the bell tower, I had been watching the wedding party enter the church. Their clothed were far more regal than anything I have seen back home. And that is another thing I will miss about Spain: They dress more formally for special occasions.
Ashley and I decided to end our afternoon with paella at one of the local restaurants. As we ate, she noticed that they serve Agua de Valencia, one of the city’s signature drinks—made of champagne, orange, lemons and lime. While it tasted a bit like Tang at first, we shared two small pitchers at the relaxing pace to which we’ve grown accustomed here. I will surely miss the leisurely of Sundays in Spain.