Home sweet casa

Trip Start Jun 05, 2006
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Trip End Aug 01, 2006


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Flag of United States  , Alabama
Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Home. It becomes more and more an abstract concept as you get older. Being in Mallorca for the last week of my European Adventure was a sort of homecoming for me, as I have friends and a sort of family there. But nothing can compare with the warmth and relief I felt when Mom and Keith met me at baggage claim in the Atlanta Airport after a full day of travel. And now I'm home, still jet-worn and ill-adapted to central time, but I am already looking back at Europe with a reminiscent distance, like a really good dream whose details I'm already beginning to forget. Fortunately for me, I have been logging these details all along, so I can refresh whenever I want, and toward that end I'll now go over my very last day in Mallorca, Espaņa.

So Monday morning I got up around 9:30 to accompany Miguel into Palma, where I would meet with Josep, Noelia, and Happy (their aptly named Cocker spaniel) to go for a little beach-lounging. I met them at Son Hugo and we drove to Josep's dad's house, where we parked the car and hiked down to this "really cool, secluded beach" that Josep and Noelia had discovered, where we wouldn't be bothered by a lot of tourists. I began to doubt the accuracy of this description when we came upon the beach, to find a naked dude photographing his bethonged girlfriend in the waves, and a group of equally naked Germans lounging by some rocks at the edge of the tiny sand bank. Undeterred, however, (we had already come this far) we went for a little swim and Josep and I tried to play a volleyball game he'd invented, that only resulted in making Noelia (who had previously injured her coccyx) whine that she didn't want to play and Josep accidentally beaming Happy in the face (which she wasn't too happy about--hehe). The last straw was when a fat German lady came up to Noelia and in fat, authoritative English yelled, "Out! Out!" referring to the dog. Noelia was rather perturbed by this because not only did the woman presume to order her around in a foreign language, but to do so on her native island and in reference to her dog, who was not bothering anyone. So, the Germans having conquered that beach, we retreated to Josep's dad's house, where we swam in his incredibly nice pool overlooking Santa Ponįa Bay, and chatted a bit with his dadīs housekeeper, who they told me was a Bulgarian Olympic rhythmic gymnast. Yeah, so that was interesting.

And at that point it was time for some cliff-jumping, so we drove around to the other side of the bay and jumped off what I estimate at a 30-35ft. cliff. It was pretty cool except I didnīt want to break my fourth pair of flip-flops, so I had to climb barefoot up the steep, sharp rocks to get back to the top of the cliff. For that reason I felt a couple jumps were sufficient, as my feet were more or less throbbing from the smack of the water and the prick of the jagged rocks. So we headed back to their place for a spot of lunch and then I basically chilled there, watching Spanish TV while they went to a chiropractor for some abuse. Close to eight I let myself out and took a bus to Palma to meet with Vane, Carlotta and Juan to have a beer and say goodbye. And then I rode back to Santa María with Miguel when he got off work and we had some delicious curry chicken rice and watched Saw in Spanish before hitting the sack. I intentionally exhausted myself, staying up to watch Saw II after Miguel had gone to bed so I would be able to sleep on the plane. This worked pretty well, since I'm still feeling like I could go for a bit of hibernation.

But in any case, I made it to my 7:10 flight to Madrid, and to the gorgeous, brand new Terminal 4 building in Madrid, with its curved glass ceiling and modern architecture. And there an attendant in the check-in line offered me 800 euros, breakfast, lunch, dinner and a stay in a three star hotel if I would fly out the next day, due to overbooking. I thought about it for approximately 8 seconds before yelling "ĄSí!" to which the guy replied, "Sir, please donīt shout in the airport, it makes people nervous." Unfortunately, in a revelation of airport efficiency, it resulted that they din't need me to stay a day behind, and, in fact there were several extra seats in the plane, including the one next to me, which meant I got to stretch out on the 9 hour flight. In Miami I changed over and flew to Atlanta, where Mom and Keith picked me up and drove my sleeping corpse home, where I slept another 12 hours.

So basically, I've been doing a lot of sleeping since I got back...and also a lot of eating, since the good thing about leaving home for a good stint, is that everybody wants to feed you when you get back. And I really haven't had a lot of time yet to reflect on everything that I did and saw in Europe, because itīs all a huge blur of events, like so many indistinct ingredients in a delicious European frappe. But as I sit here sipping it, I canīt help thinking that the estimated 4,000 it cost me was probably half of what I would have paid for such a culinary and cultural experience. It was truly a trip of a lifetime, though I used the indefinite article there in hopes that it will not be the last. I have no doubt that in a short year or so I'll want to return to Europe, or some other unknown place for another adventure, but more than likely Iīll have to wait till after grad school for that. In the meantime I'll be looking over the 1,500 or so photos I took and rereading this trip journal to try and remember how much of it actually happened...hey! I've got witnesses--Jon, Jill, Kelly, Drew, Anne-Elise, Robert, Jenn, Scott, Adam, Isaac, Antón, Jasmine, Miguel, Aina, Xisca, Rafa, Lluc, Juan Miguel, Josep, Noelia, Vane, Juan, Carlotta, Montse, Roca, and Pikachu: the players in this farcical epic. It wasn't a spiritual journey alone in the jungles of Thailand, or through the deserts of Namibia, or among the mean streets of Rio de Janeiro; but it was the chance to visit much of Europe and to get at least a glimpse of the many, varied cultures and languages that abound there. In a few cases I got to see firsthand what it's like to live in these places, but in most cities we only saw from afar, walking along beaten tourist paths, and unbeaten, unintentionally meandering paths through neighborhoods and along highways. Though we certainly had some navigational pratfalls and shortcomings in the way of planning, I wouldn't change our trip in any way. Those mistakes were our own, and the meanings, stories and lessons we took from them are our own, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to travel and communicate and see and assimilate and discover and learn and botch and lose myself in the ancient tangle of humanity that is Europe. And, I feel like I know it pretty well now--it's time to visit some place new. Thanks for coming along--if you enjoyed the trip, please sign my guest book.

Cheers and happy travels,

Matt
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