Jet-lag, a hostel stay and an unexpected friendship


For the first time since I arrived in Vitoria- Gasteiz, I devoted the weekend to finding the best pintxo bars, sipping on Txakoli (Cha-coli), Basque sparkling wine and visiting cute, eclectic shops that seem to always be closed when I pass by, thanks to the Glorious siesta hours** with my great friend, Angelica.

Txakoli- Basque wine

Txakoli- Basque wine

An unexpected friendship that began my very first night  in the land of jamón and vino in a hostel, jet-lagged, excited and overwhelmed for my new beginnings while being surrounded by auxiliars who seemed to already have established their cliques in. I felt I was in high school as I buried my nose behind my computer trying to figure out trains and buses to my new pueblo, though I should have called it bed-time instead at 7pm. It was then, I noticed her across the modern lounge room as indigo, lime green and lipstick red and highlighter yellow  bubble-shaped  lamps hung from the ceiling; a breakfast space by morning, and chill out/pass the time on your computer by afternoon. I didn’t say anything in that moment but I knew  I wanted to chat with her- everything about her was different and feeling like I was back in high school, all I wanted was different. This meant one thing: I wanted to get to know this gal. 

Exhausted and without much progress on how to get to my town (I’d soon learn, Spanish transport websites don’t always work as easily as they could/should), I called it a night and headed up the numerous flights of stairs to my 4th floor room. I can figure this all out after a good nights sleep, I told myself. I was pleasantly surprised to see her in the next room and I hesitantly approached her and asked if she was also an auxiliar, which turned into an hour conversation. Meanwhile, my body played jet-lagged tricks on me, after all I had been awake for over 26 hours- I felt like I was moving when I was standing still and my brain couldn’t form simple sentences. It didn’t matter she had just arrived a few days before. We had just arrived to this land and we had similar ways of thinking, we  had various jobs after university and traveled before applying to this program. We had things in common. 

Angelica and I in V-G

Angelica and I in V-G

The following day when I saw her in the lounge on the computer she invited me to sit next to her while she busily researched places she was going to live. The race to find a piso in Madrid, while every other auxiliar in the hostel  did the same. I eagerly accompanied her to look at her first piso,  a dungeon feeling dark apartment with a young Turkish woman who had eyes that could kill and if she were a cartoon,  would be the cat from Alice in Wonderland. We both looked at each other when we were back on the street, feeling the sun rays grace our cheeks and said to the other, “What do you think?” and we burst out laughing as we talked about not wanting to meet that woman in a dark alley, let alone live in the same building.

Good we’re on the same page.

 I had known her less than 24 hours but I sensed something about her, our dynamic just seemed natural. We roamed through Lavapies, an immigrant neighborhood and I enjoyed my first Doner Kebab while kids played football on a cement plaza where four police cars were parked, as groups of police looked on, arms and legs crossed. I wondered what type of area this was, would be safe in a few hours? I had just arrived and didn’t know the areas I should avoid but we were ok. Soon after, we found ourselves in front of the RTVE, Spanish radio station and studio with a crowd outside. Naturally, my curiosity lead me to find out and ask, an middle aged attendee “they’re is an orchestra performing and is being filmed for TV” and then she went inside. Intermission was ending. 

I looked at Angelica and my eyes said, “ whatcha think, we can sneak in? but I felt a bit chicken and I wondered what if we get caught…? but the woman seemed to know our thoughts.   She reappeared and told us, “Some friends of ours didn’t show up and there are plenty of extra seats. Follow us and act like you belong here, no one will say anything.”

And that’s just we did. 

We snuck into a concert= 2nd night= It's going to be an amazing year

We snuck into a concert= 2nd night= It’s going to be an amazing year

We looked at each other in our plush red velvet seats and laughed. This is crazy! We just met each other and unexpected opportunities are falling in our lap. 

And our friendship continues to be full of unexpected, wonderful things. When we’re together magic seems to happen. Like getting invited into casetas, or striking up conversations in bars and cafes and spending evenings with new friends. She used to look at me surprised but now just says, “I know anything is possible with you.”

We exchanged details, we drank sangria until 2am in a  bar in Sol and I caught my bus to my new town at 7am the following day. I can’t recall who emailed who but I remember the few moments I was awake on my 7 hour bus ride, I had happy thoughts that so far, everything was going smoothly, better than I could have imagined it. Soon after, she was on a bus visiting me in my twilight zone, middle of nowhere coastal town and then we were planning trips every puente we both had. 

Enjoying Sangria with Angelica in Madrid

Enjoying Sangria with Angelica in Madrid in an Andalucian style bar. I didn’t know that then…

I feel fortunate, special and happy that now that were on our unexpected year two in Spain we are able to visit each other in our respective cities. My city may not be on the tourist map but she came to visit me. See me. Spend time with me. To share time together. And yes, that’s what true friends do but I also know that with hectic lives (hers is more busy than mine), it’s easy to make other things in life a priority. Lucky for her (and for me), this year I live in a city that has a European feel, isn’t quite in the middle of nowhere and has everything one needs- good food, decent prices, endless amounts of pintxos and vino, cute shops, towering cathedrals, and pretty plazas. 

Her visit wasn’t about crossing off a new city off her list, doing touristy things or seeing famous sights but about just enjoying time together.  It’s a bonus that’s a new city and new region, though likely not a place she would visit if I didn’t live here. 

Medieval walls

Medieval walls

I’m grateful to see my adopted city through the eyes of a friend, hear her  perspective and have a greater appreciation for where I live. This weekend was just what I needed- eating and enjoying Basque wine, and catching up with someone who knows me well who can remind me of all I’ve been through and keep me in check when I get nostalgic.  It’s great being able to share with each other:  how far we’ve come on this journey we started together (though lived 7+ hours away by bus) and both thought was ending in July  when we returned home, to reflect on our worries and fears, the what-if’s, the should’s vs. taking possibilities, and more importantly to continue living and experiencing what seems to be  the grand life lesson of the last few years: that sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do and allow life to lead you one step at a time. 

We’re both so grateful we’ve come back to Spain and both curious about the future but we keep each other in check; reminding each other to enjoy the moments, enjoy the present and allow life to guide us despite our bad case of wanting to know and trying to control our destinies. 


Have you ever met someone and quickly knew that you’d become good friends? 

**aka, for non-Basques and Spaniards, it drives most tourists and ex-pats nuts and makes us question just how this country has managed so long with inconvenient store hours- do they actually want to sell things? 

18 thoughts on “Jet-lag, a hostel stay and an unexpected friendship

  1. Pingback: Flashbacks and what I gained from my first year in Spain | Roamingtheworld

  2. Pingback: How do you deal with Naysayers? | Roamingtheworld

  3. Friendships abroad can sometimes become one of the strongest and most valuable. We’re on this journey together, and well, maybe it makes bonding faster because there’s so much to talk about and work through in a new place!

    I love this post and how you felt drawn to Angelica… you know, some things are just fate! The universe has it all worked out for us sometimes… we just have to take the initial steps!

    • It’s so true. I’m so grateful for our friendship too and though it’s only been a handful of times we’ve hung out, I feel I’ve known you for years!

      Yes. We do just have to take first steps and take the leap of faith and experience life.

      Thank goodness for blogging connections!

  4. What an awesome coincidence! I’ve never had that strong feeling I should get to know someone, so that’s an amazing story. But I do love meeting up with friends and showing them my new life in a new city – it’s so much fun mixing the old and the new.

    • It was defnitely lucky. I think I noticed her more because I felt like I was out of place with so many younger folks, already in their groups that I thought, ah, “what am I don’t here, what have I signed up for?” thought jet-lagged thoughts really shouldn’t count for much. ha.

      But I’m so grateful how it just happened and didn’t really have any other plan but to just say hello and meet her.
      Maybe will have to meet in BCN before I fly back to sunny CA in June and you can show me your favorite spots!

      • Yeah, after a month of travel + I’m sure you have some catching up to do. I already have 3 weeks of trips planned, including Asturias this Friday (with a blogger I haven’t met yet, there maybe part 2 to this blog entry. ha.
        You’re welcome here as well, especially if you want a relaxing and eating pintxos weekend! I may take you up on BCN…hmmm

    • Thanks Lauren!
      Well if my intuition is accurate this time, I just may be writing a friend tribute to you too… will see how our “blind date” travels go! I already love how we have so much in common and more importantly how we see the world!

  5. **ahhhh! how do they function as a society?! well rested-ly, I guess! 😉
    Having these friendships abroad completely make the whole experience. I’m glad you found someone to share it with. Some of our favorite memories are the nights sharing wine in our home with our international friends over the big trips far and away!

  6. Lovely story 🙂
    My longest-standing friend (we’ve been friends for 37 years) is coming to visit me on Saturday for the first time in Toledo, I can’t wait! As much as I love the new people that I’m meeting, and the great friendships that I’m striking up, nothing can replace the ‘oldies’ who’ve been with you for years and years.

    • Thanks.
      How fun! 37 years that’s a long and wonderful friendship. It’s been fun having a friend be part of this experience from the get-go and if it wasn’t for living abroad, we probably would never have met! Enjoy time with your friend!

      • I’ve made friends in many different places, and it’s great fun to maintain these friendships. Some fall by the wayside, it’s inevitable, but not all. And a fantastic benefit is that you get to visit them every once in a while. That’s how my recent Key West trip came about, due to friends from the UK moving there. This way, you can enjoying the fruits of your travels and the connections you’ve made for the rest of your life 🙂

  7. I have been so fortunate in meeting friends who have kept me here, despite break-ups, bureaucratic problems and those feelings of homesickness that creep in every once in a while. Many of them have since left, but every rinconcito, old man bar and disco remind me of them – even if five years have passed!

    • Yes yes yes. I’ve been having flashbacks to my year in Roquetas lately- a song, food, or even a bar that I’ve never been in the North can trigger memories of last year!
      So grateful for friends new and old who keep me sane!

  8. That’s the best thing about being an expat, the friends you meet along the way are the best. I can often tell within the first five minutes of meeting someone whether or not we’ll be getting along fabulously. It’s wonderful… 🙂

    • Me too! Isn’t it just wonderful!?
      It’s so wonderful knowing myself so well that I can tell if I’ll be friends/get on with someone or not.
      It’s still strange when I’m around people I don’t connect with yet ocassionally have to interact with (aka: work, ) with them on occasion, it always feels strange.
      Simply no connection.
      That’s just fine but definitely makes me appreciate my friends and all the people I do connect with!

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