It's been raining around here lately, and something about the smell of the rain and the temperature yesterday transported me back to Spain, and I felt a strong sense of longing. Then I realized the great and wonderful thing about foreign travel: it's a good amnesiac. I know that a lot of the time I was in Spain I felt lonely, but now all I really remember is the wonderful experiences I had, seeing and getting to know a new city, absorbing Basque culture, and sampling some excellent cuisine.
Despite my loneliness, I did make it a point to leave the safety of the hotel room on my own every day, even if it was just to a grocery store. Toward the end of the week, we had a couple of nice warm sunny days, which was enough to entice me out to simply explore the city. One day, I found a city square that was fairly well-hidden. Erich had heard of it but never found it. It was around lunch time and there were bars lining the perimeter of the square.
I had packed some little granola bars in my bag so I wouldn't starve, but the casual lunch diners were taunting me: delicious authentic Spanish food everywhere, and I was not going to let my discomfort with the lunching process and the language stop me from getting a jamon sandwich! So for the next hour or so, I strolled around this little square, watching people sit down and get up. I learned that they could seat themselves. Then I had to pluck up the courage to pick one and go sit down. While that courage slowly unearthed itself, I frantically studied my Spanish phrase book for help in ordering food. FINALLY, I sat down here:
Soon enough, a delightful waitress came to take my order. I pointed to the sandwich I wanted, she wrote it down and then said something in extremely fast and unrecognizable Spanish. It must have been something along the lines of, "Will that be all?" because in response to my blank stare, she put her notebook under her arm, made a huge gesture with her hands, and said "Finish!!!"
"Si! Yes, that's all," I replied. We both had a good laugh. And I had a delicious ham sandwich and small beer, dearly bought but worth every minute of courage-summoning. And I got to enjoy a better view for the rest of my time in that plaza: the one from a table: