in my alternate universe

Yesterday in my alternate universe, I found an apartment in a foreign country.

On my Thursday bus to Seville the little boy two rows up has his nose pressed to the window for the entire 60 minute ride between cities. He has seen no shortage of amazing beasts and is calling them out loud in Spanish: monkeys, tigers, horses, cats. He is imagining a jungle filled with animals, and I am headed for a jungle full of people. The ERASMUS students, the CIEE teachers and our teachers all descend on Spain at the same time each fall. This, as they say in Andalucia, es una tonteria. Poor planning, Ministerio(s)! Now all of us are hunting for pisos (apartments) and there is an incredible amount of competition. But I’m trying not to panic; Gwen Stefani is on the radio and Matt will be here to visit in four weeks.

The last day of September finds us in 90 degree heat and walking all over creation sweating like mad. Alternate transportation yielded one kind cab driver, uber traffic, and one very full bus brimming over with U2 fans on their way to the concert. First the huelga, now Bono. . . que pena. I meet Andrea at the bus station and we start our trek across the city — we will see three apartments today; the second one will become our new home.

TrianaThe landlord is Julio, he drives a moto and his mother lives down the street. The neighborhood is Triana and it is beautiful and near the Rio Guadalqivir; a previous stomping ground for the gypsies, and possibly Hercules. The apartment is on the 6th floor and there is, gratefully, an elevator. It reminds me so much of my senora’s home in Granada that I am bowled over: the large wrought iron door, the marble floors, the bright white paint and sizable kitchen that opens onto an inner courtyard. Julio tells us the neighbors love having visitors / students here and the senora next door often brings over food. (SOLD!) There is air conditioning and a washing machine. There are three bedrooms and a large bath. The patio is tiny but cute. The view is nothing of note but there is plenty of fresh air. We can buy bikes for 15 euros and use the green bike lanes all over the city… or we can rent bikes and ride from place to place for a few euros. There is a bank next door and a supermarket nearby, not to mention the bus station within walking distance over the bridge.

Did this really just happen? Have I found a place to live abroad? I feel so calm about it I’m almost surprised at myself. Then I remember that I’m in a place I love. My affair with Spanish culture and with Spain itself has lasted the past 6 years, and I am reminded of it every minute now that I have returned. I am comfortable here. I know the language, I have a vague knowledge of the city, and ultimately: I am happy. Bienvenido a España!

More about my school tomorrow. Right now .. I’m going to take a siesta with the rest of Huelva.


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