1. It has shown me that sometimes I can trust strangers more than my friends.
In my first trip outside Spain, I learned that I couldn’t trust my friends as much as I’d thought I could. Jose, Pachu, and I had planned to meet at Estación Sur in Madrid two weeks before we started our second year at university. From there, we’d take our first metro to the Barajas airport and then wait a couple hours for our flight to Paris, where we’d have a hell of a week drinking and smoking and wandering around Moulin Rouge and the Latin Quarter.
Instead, I found myself alone in the huge bus station in the center of Madrid with no idea how the metro even worked. I’d traveled by bus from León and my friends from Oviedo. Their bus driver had told them that he could drop them directly at the airport if they wanted, so they called to ask me, “¿Te importa si vamos directo al aeropuerto?” (Do you mind if we go directly to the airport?) And I lied, “No pasa nada. Ir.” (Yeah, it’s fine. Go).
Buenos amigos (Nice friends), I thought, just before I met a Hawaiian girl named Ada who was as lost as me, because even if she knew about the metro she didn’t know Spanish at all. We helped each other out and managed to reach the airport. And when I said goodbye to her, I already knew that I had learned that sometimes it’s better to trust strangers than friends.
2. It has made me fall in love with people I will probably never see again.
I only needed less than a week in the Balkans to fall in love with the whole peninsula and also with a gorgeous Albanian who took me to visit Pristina, Kosovo, on a crisp day in October. Right after arriving there, she led the walk toward the city center. She walked funny, like she was floating in the air following an inner Nirvana rhythm, her long red curly hair moving with every step. We kept walking while she was telling me ghost stories about the city park. She laughed at my attempts to prounounce her name over Peja beers in a night venue called Che Bar.
“You gotta see this,” she said. And I saw it. The “NEWBORN” sculpture, the main touristic attraction of the city, declaring since February of 2008 the Kosovo’s independence from Serbia. Leaves were falling off trees and winter was unconsciously there waiting for something to happen.
I touched her warm hand and said, “I’m newborn.” She smiled and answered, “Yes, yes you are.”
3. It has taught me so many things that I wish I were dumber.
I swear it’s true. I’ve learned more in a couple days in a foreign country speaking in another language with people from different cultures than in six years at university. And that’s probably a good thing, or not, because after learning so many valuable things out there in the real world, things that really matter, now I just can’t go back to my easy life in my modern country.
4. No matter how hard I try to settle down, I just can’t wait to get lost somewhere again.
So I just keep moving. Right now it’s 3:45am and I’m traveling by train to Barcelona. I’m leaving behind a science degree and a failed master’s just to work as a waiter in a cool music bar in a small village called Sant Pere de Ribes near the Mediterranean Sea.
I don’t know if I’ll ever find ‘home’ again — traveling has doomed me to travel more. I can’t stop thinking about those creepy hostels, those foreign beers I, all of those loud laughs I heard, and those people from far faraway, people whom I still love. And I want more of it all.