by Ashley Lordon, Greenheart Travel Language Exchange Participant in Spain
After spending a beautiful two weeks traveling around Europe with my recently engaged fiancé, I arrived in the Malaga airport totally exhausted and filled with many different emotions.
First, I was lost. The airport was empty and I was way too tired to try and figure my way out of the airport. So I just walked around for about 15 minutes after getting my suitcase, hoping to find la salida. Once I did, I was VERY happily and cheerfully greeted by Ivonne, my local coordinator. To say she was (and continues to be) a welcomed breath of fresh air is an understatement. Ivonne has quickly become one of my very favorite parts of this program!
After she picked me up, she wasted no time in taking a horrible picture of me and then playing tour guide while driving around the city. Did I mention this was at 11pm? Well it was, and Ivonne was full of life and energy. Welcome to Spain! The fun starts when the sun goes down. 🙂
To be honest, the first few days were a confusing blur. I was happy and scared all at the same time. Happy to finally be in Granada with my family; happy to be beginning this adventure; and scared that I had made a terrible mistake. What if the family hated me? What if I hated them? What if I got lost and couldn´t find my way back? What if my expectations were too high and I was bitterly disappointed? Too many questions, not enough coffee. Time to get tapas!
One of my first (of many) “aha” moments came from accidentally getting lost in Realejo when I was supposed to go to the city center. It took me about 3 hours before I realized that I was off the map and actually cared. Up to that point, I was blissfully walking along the small alley-streets and soaking in the amazing wall murals and culture. That day I had no appointments, no work – nothing that I HAD to do. THIS was why I had come; to enjoy life as the Spanish do and not sweat bullets every time something changes in a way I hadn’t intended.
This is an important lesson to me about Granada that I am continuing to learn: some of the most beautiful things I have seen, and the moments of most clarity have come from putting down my map and just soaking it all in.
Granada is a small town, and as long as you´re smart and use your instincts, you will always find your way back home. Until then – just enjoy.