In less than two weeks, my suitcases will be packed and I’ll say good-bye to my piso, my friends in Roquetas, teachers at school and my students. It’s a strange feeling. Never a fan of packing all at the last minute, I’m slowly going through papers and brochures I’ve accumulated, and odds and ends. I’ll decide what clothes to leave behind and head off and out. I’ll hop in the rental car on a 6 day road trip with my boyfriend passing through Alicante, Valencia and Cuenca before meeting my brother and friend in Madrid.
I’ve grown to enjoy living in Roquetas de Mar, a summer Spaniard beach spot and tranquil the rest of the year with a backdrop of barren desert mountains and the sea. An interesting combination that reminds me of Southern California. Desert and ocean. Why did someone decide to make this a town? Just like I wonder about Southern California.
My first moments in Roquetas flood in, knowing all too well that my time is coming to an end here. I remember leaving Madrid and boarding my bus, first taking to a Senegalese woman dressed in her beautiful colorful fabric whom I’d sit next to, seat pre-assigned. I slept most of the way but in my moments of day dreams, I wondered how my life would be? Would I like the town? How would my school be? The Students? Teachers? What would be expected of me? Who would I meet? And where was I going to live? So many questions without answers and I reminded myself, too not stress. I’d have to wait and see. Time and patience would tell.
I was comforted knowing I had a few contacts already in Roquetas, courtesy of Facebook. Ana and Jessica would pick me up from the bus station in Almeria. Grateful I didn’t have to navigate a new town figure out where to stay. Everything was new.
I arrived to grey skies and drizzle. Jessica sat in the back of the car with me and we started talking as if we knew each other well, trying to decipher how we’d get on and if we had common interests, aside from us both being placed in the same town with the same job. We arrived at her apartment she shared with Ana, where it would be my home for the week. How fortunate I thought ,and gave a silent thanks to Facebook, for without this huge social networking site, I’d have no idea Ana or Jessica existed. Honestly, I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to know they lived in the same town as me without it.
We took a little walk in the light rain and she bought a used bike. We brought hew new wheels home and then she me a mini tour of Roquetas, the port and the castle- the main, if not only landmarks of Roquetas. We talked and talked. She asked me personal questions and I answered, thinking, if I had met her a few years back, I’d be closed off and feeling judged. I honored myself that evening how I had grown a lot in the last few years and was grateful to feel so comfortable with this stranger so quickly. I knew then, fate had intervened. I was suppose to meet Jessica. This wasn’t coincidence. I hadn’t chosen Roquetas, Roquetas chose me. There was a reason, despite my difficulties of adjusting to small town living. We became good pals that week, finding our common interests and learning quickly we could confide in each other. Partly out of being alone in a new country and new town but also luck and fortune- we connected on another level. Friendships don’t happen everyday.
Now when I walk by the port and castle, I remember the gist of the conversations. I remember day turning to-night and deciding to go for tapas near the port. She ordered for us, having been in Roquetas for two weeks, she had already become savvy to some of the cultural ways. I don’t frequently walk by the port but when I do, I think of us, my first night, rain and all the questions without answers I had.
Now as I pack my bags, I reflect on my 8 months of teaching, living in a new town, my ups and downs of moving to another country, how far my Spanish has come and all I’ve learned. I have two months on the road before I head back to California. I’m savoring my time in my piso, my home, before I trade it in for adventure. It’s been over four years since I last hit the road, just me and my backpack. I know this time around, it will easier; piece of cake in comparison to traversing in the heart of Africa. I’ll be in Spain and Portugal and wherever else the wind leads me.
I’m antsy about what comes after my travels but I know I shouldn’t be. I’ll have new questions without answers but in time, I’ll know. The cycle will repeat. So when people ask what comes next, I simply say, I don’t know what the future brings.