Gloomy and nostalgic I was debating calling it an early Monday night when my room mate Sergio walked in the door, Quieres ir a Toulousse este finde?” Really?, I asked. “Claro, It’s my friend’s birthday party.” I had only met him a week before despite sharing a piso for more than 3 weeks because of our contrary schedules. Read:He works 40+hours and I barely work. Nothing like being invited on a weekend road trip to perk me up and change my attitude. By Thursday, I hadn’t seen Sergio and I wasn’t sure if I was going so I left him my number and we briefly corresponded and I still wasn’t sure we were going until I texted him Friday afternoon to ask. Then I quickly packed my bag, ran out the door to meet someone for an intercambio, language exchange and then ran back to grab my bag and meet Sergio.
We were on the road by 7:30pm as the sun was setting so no chance to see the scenery, only freeway signs reminding us which country we were in. Aside from the expensive toll road to enter Bilbao (11 Euros each way), I quickly knew I was in France with the constant toll roads. I didn’t pay attention to how many tolls we went through but Sergio’s credit card saw a lot of love that night (and on the way home too).
We talked most of the 4.5 hour drive, which was brillant for me. Non-stop Spanish sprinkled with a few words in English. I was intrigued by his story- He’s been in Spain for the last 9 years. He never thought to come to Spain but came for his girlfriend who suggested they do Erasmus together. He let Germany and by the time he was in Spain, she had flown home with other plans. Could he really turn down a year of partying Spanish style while “studying?” Of course not. I would have done the same. An Erasmus year in Spain, is kinda of a joke but tons of fun. Half the goal of studying abroad is to learn about the culture, travel and make new friends and in Spain, you quickly learn Spaniards love to party. It’s almost an understatement. One year lead to another and next thing he knew, he was pursuing a Master’s and had a job offer. And a crazy side story, Destiny or Chance, you decide– but the university he went to in Mexico was named Zaragossa, and he was shocked and surprised there was another Zaragossa, a city in Spain where he studied during his Erasmus years and lived for a while. Out of all the cities in Spain… Interesting how life connects the dots.
I thought about my own Spain story and how I still pinch myself sometimes, never expecting to find myself here for another year. Nor really sure where life will lead me.
We pulled into Toulousse at 1am, and patiently waited for his friend to figure out where he was in the city, lost for an hour, before enjoying a kebab. The classic late night spot for food in many cities in Europe. Sergio raved about how delicious kebabs are in France and I thought, how can kebabs be better in one country vs. another?It’s all relatively the same, suspicious meat rotating around heat for hours, shaved and tossed into a pita bread when you order, with tomatoes, lettuce and some yoghurt sauce to garnish… But I was wrong. In France, they bake the bread when you order and sometimes add cheese to the bread, if you ask. Nicely.