Friday, July 14, 2006

An Unexpected Stay

It's Friday, July 14th. Today, I'd planned to stop in Aranjuez to eat some of their famous strawberries then be on my merry way to Cuenca. When I went to check what time the next bus to Cuenca leaves, imagine my surprise when I was told LUNES! What?! I know Spanish well enough, I suppose, so I know Lunes is Monday in English, but still... Anyway, I asked 4x just to be sure. I even left, then went back to the window & the frustrated attendant pointed to a calendar for me. Oh well, I guess I'm spending the night. Thank GOD a hotel wasn't far away. I checked in for €21.

Single Room - 21
This room only has one bed so it seems larger than the others. It has a sink and a fan, too! The fan is most welcome since the last room had no A/C. After washing some items, (Yippee! The sink has a stopper) I went out to see what else Aranjuez has to offer besides fresones (large strawberries). I made my way to the tourist office where the attendant spoke a little English. He was more than happy to practice on me. When I left there with map in tow, I visited some gardens left by royalty past, and walked around the city in general. I found some fresh strawberries con nata (with cream) and they were awesome! Definitely worth the trip.
Strawberries with Cream
During my continued exploration of the city, I saw a woman of color who looked like she could be American. I've been in Spain long enough to know that you rarely find someone who speaks English, so here I go. ¿Habla, usted, inglés o español? Her response: "I'm from New York. " I was overjoyed! She was a teacher on a three-week language program in Madrid and was in Aranjuez on a day trip because it wasn't in her guidebook. She wanted to go someplace different. She asked me how to get to the bus station, so I walked her to it. I'd been here all of two hours. I'm directionally challenged, so this was a personal triumph for me. (Finding my way around Spain by myself, without anyone to rely on, really helped my map-reading skills.)

Next, I walked to the train station to check on trains to Cuenca. Too expensive, so I'll take the bus to Madrid instead. At the station, I met a girl from Sweden. She was in town for a two-week work camp for people with AIDS. She was so excited. Shoot, how I can get involved in activities like the Swede and the New Yorker?

After sight-seeing and before grabbing dinner & returning to my room, I went to get water from the market I'd found earlier. They were out. No surprise at .45/1.5 liters, so I had to find another store. Outside, I met Juan (looked like a brotha) from Portugal. Between my broken Spanish & hand gestures, we exchanged names & info about where we're from. He kindly walked me to the supermercado, which wasn't very super, but it had my precious water.

Note to self: Learn to speak another language. Juan spoke Spanish, Portugese, and French and my Swedish friend spoke at least two.


Anonymous ian bacardyia said...

Hi, I saw your post on 'That Black Girl' in Portland. I liked your style and wanted to say keep up your positive attitude and your explorer spirit. I went to that page because I was considering a job oppurtunity in Portland.

6:56 AM  

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