Valencia was a fast stop and Alicante even faster. Made a great new friend on the bus, Julio, a juggler from Mexico who has vagobonded everywhere it seems. We got sandwiches upon arriving in Alicante and then I played harmonica while he juggled on the beach. We found a place to stay for 15 Euros each Pension Milano. Hardly, of course Julio got the ‘speak the language upgrade’ with balconey and double room while I was in a closet where the sink didn’t work. Not too bad though, but no internet was a bit of a drag. But it turns out I’ve been spending too much so to get a solo room for the night to figure out my finances, do some writing, and plan out things a little bit was very good.
These pictures are all from Valencia. Alicante pics will come later.
Almost two months ‘on the road’. I’ve been from Honolulu to Portland to Sacramento to Salt Lake City to Ogden and back to Salt Lake City to Chicago by way of Denver to Boston to Providence to Lena’s town to New York City to Barcelona to Valencia and now in Alacante…
Now, the country. Spain is remarkable. The bars don’t really start happening until midnight. From noon to about five pm most everything is closed. As I travel from East to West I start to see California everywhere I look only instead of adobe missions, I see huge stone castles and massive block apartment buildings built around narrow lanes. The water of the Mediterranean is the same incredible blue of the water in the Philippines. The craggy mountains and yellow stone with brightly painted houses on rocky ground excites me. The cultures all seem to be individualistic, as if this were some nation cobbled together from many tribes Catalan, Valencian, Basque, and Spanish and yet, they are all a part of this incredible country that discovered the new world, or at least made the horrific contact and then proceeded to dominate, decimate, and reshape the cultures there. From the gypsies I saw playing accordion and fiddle on the train to the musician/beggars who stand guard with palms out in front of the churches to the celebration of South American dance I wandered upon my first night in Valencia, there is a vibrancy to this culture that is perhaps best summed up by the concept of memento mori, the idea of something to remind one that death is perhaps not as far away as we may think it to be. I can see this idea in the works of Picasso, Gaudi, and Miro but even in the way that my Spanish friends seem to live their lives. There is a feeling that seems to say that one must spend the last dollar, catch the siesta now, or love the woman of your dreams in this moment because the moment might be taken from one at any time. I think this is perhaps what most resonates with me here in Spain, this idea of carpe diem or living the present moment to the fullest.
I feel at the moment, like I might be missing something fantastic around any corner here in this tiny town of Alicante (approx. 300K). Perhaps there is flamenco being danced around the corner, maybe there is a concert being performed by a lone flugal horn player next to a cathedral accompanied only by the tape recorder and amp next to him, or maybe there is a whole orchestra setting up in a square somewhere and old people gathering around to dance a dance known only to this area. In any event, there is always something happening in Spain.
At this point, I have considered to discard my coffee cup and French press several times. I like the invention, but it seems unnecessary since coffee is one thing that is readily available and cheap. I’ve not used it nor my sigg water bottle yet in Europe, but I have the feeling that as soon as they are gone, I will find myself wanting them…maybe one more week and then I can get rid of the cup and press. They are easily replacable and they haven’t been used on this trip yet at all, the water bottle…it is more useful and I will keep it.
The city of Science and Technology was amazing to see, but was it worth the cost?
As to my language studies, they are somewhat hopeless it seems. As I learn Spanish it is corrupted by my little French, then there is the Spanish as spoken by Italianos and Catalans. A guy in Valencia told me that the Spanish lisp (Buenath Notcthes) is the result of a king they once had who had a lisp and everyone in the country decided to speak like him. In any event, my Spanish vocabulary is growing, but confused and when I tried to speak Arabic to the Moroccans at the less than spectacular Pension Milano, I found that it is locked up for the moment in an inacessable part of my brain. As I start to access it, my vulgar spanish becomes corrupted by Arabic as well….
Cést la vie. Que sais. Al hamdallah.
I am leaving Alicante soon. I like this place and would like to explore it further but the weather has gotten cold and a beach town is always better when you can enjoy the weather. So I move on to Granada.
Meeting Julio was great because this is a guy that is living the way I endeavor to live, and I would say doing so more successfully than I. Somehow, I had forgotten about the spiritual element to travel, the seeking that one has to nurture in order to get the most out of each place.
From Granada, my ever shifting plan has me heading towards Morocco with a stop in Gibralter. I had considered then making my way through Senegal and towards Mali and then across the top of Africa into Egypt and this may still happen, but at the moment, I feel that my course might be better served by going to Morocco and then back to Spain, then to Portugal, on to France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, then Switzerland, briefly back to France, and then to Italy. From Italy to Greece and from Greece to Turkey. At this point (if not before) I need to evaluate my situation. I´ve been spending too much. Barcelona was worth the massive amounts I spent if only to make so many new friends and experience so much in a weeks time, but I was shocked to see I spent more there in a week than I did in New York. Part of this is due to the lousy exchange I got on 450 before leaving the U.S., but mostly it is because I have been living far too excessively. So, I am attempting to simplify things. Instead of spending 6-10 Euros on a meal, I just bought bread, sausage, pineapple juice, apples and cheese for about 2.50 euros, and this will feed me for the entire day.
The buses are more expensive between cities than I expected, I think this may be to the rise in gas prices last summer. 20-30 Euros for each leg so far. The ferry to Morocco should be about the same. Accomodation runs 10-20 euros each night in the hostels and pensions.
As for couch surfing, it isn´t really so much a way to save money as to meet new people and make new friends. If I hadn´t of couch surfed in Barcelona, I would have spent far less, but the experience would also have been far less. To be a good couch surfer, I think one should provide something to one´s host, a bottle of wine, beers, a meal…something. Perhaps I am too generous, but this seems a small price to pay for the generosity I have recieved from my hosts.
Two months into this and almost 1/3 of my funds are gone. Yikes. We will see..the time will pass and the road will have its way with me as it always does. The lessons learned will be more than to simply be able to get by in other regions of the world, it will be more like how to get by in this life.
Once I hit Turkey, I will examine the prediction a client of mine once made to me when I was a stock broker. He said something like “Your destiny is to manage a guest house on the banks of the Bosphorus” , perhaps he was right, but if not then I will move on to India and then most likely to Korea to teach English… there is a lot of road between here and there though….
It was nice of the saints to pose with me for this picture in the Cathedral, don’t you think?
Here I am in Valencia, Spain and while it is a beautiful city, I have to say that it doesn’t have that incredible something I felt in Barcelona. Of course, I leave many friends behind in Barcelona and here I am just another guy staying at a hostel, in this case the Red Nest, which is quite a nice hostel with free wi-fi, reasonable laundry, and lots of couches and common space. None the less, I feel that this place feels more manufactured, manicured, and created for tourists than the raw excitement I felt in BCN. There is a difference in the graffiti, the architecture, and the people that I can’t quite been able to place my finger on. Probably, I will leave tomorrow and head to Alicante, but to be fair, I’ve not seen much of this city. It surely has many wonders that I am missing.
Today I simply did laundry, caught up on email, and managed to get lost several times walking through the center of the city. I also visited the cathedral and climbed the steps to the tower for stunning views.
One thing in the Cathedral was the Holy Grail! I didn’t know it existed…so much for the stupid fucking Davinchi Code…