(v.) to fail

So I’ve been in Spain for exactly a month and I’m just now making a blog about it…Father Sundborg you can take away my Journalism major, I have failed you. I could try to blame it on my lack of internet, busy schedule or even the heat but the fact is I’m lagging. So better late than never right? I still have an entire month here! Looking back at the past month is insane, I came to Igualada for one family – 7 year old boy and 5 year old girl. I had my reservations about the family before I came to Spain but I never realized that I really should’ve trusted my internal instinct. 


Before I came to Spain I talked with the mother on the phone a few times, totally normal right? She spoke some English and called me Alice. This makes me laugh because my mother named me Alicia so that when I traveled, it would be a universally understood name. Wrong – Alicia is the Spanish form of Alice. So the mom, we’ll call her Maria, thought I was changing my name for her benefit. Sorry no, that’s my name. 

Maria was very concerned about me being modest, which is totally understandable – who wants some boobs-out butt-out American teenager caring for their children? Answer: not Maria. Despite the fact that I already dress modestly (ask anyone), she was incredibly insistent on this and even asked me if I had a one piece swim suit…of course I do! (No..of course I don’t.) Thus prompted a trip to Target with my mom to search for a seemingly passable one piece swimsuit.

The next thing concerning Maria was my spirituality – she and her family are Catholic. And by Catholic I mean church at least twice a week, everyone wears Jesus on a chain and family prayer every night at their in house altar-cross-thing. What’s a girl to do but say “Oh yes I’m Christian, I even go to a Jesuit University”? Both of my parents are Christian, I was raised as an Episcopalian but as soon as I was given the choice – church or no church – I opted out. One thing that I am always annoyed by is when parents force children to go to church, make them proclaim their belief of something that they probably don’t understand, and not give the child a choice to stop and say “well I’m not sure if I believe in that”. 

Anyway. There were other concerns I had with Maria but all in all, I just wanted to have a family to go to and be in Spain. So it was set. I flew into Barcelona on July 2nd. I fly alone all the time, cross-country multiple times a year – Seattle to Boston is a 6.5 hour flight and I’ve done it at least 8 times in the past 2 years. But I’d never flown out of the country on my own, needless to say I was nervous. My flights passed without complaint but once I arrived in Barcelona I had another reason to be nervous – meeting my host mom. Maria told me she would “be right there waiting”. I had no idea what that meant but I followed to masses through customs and out into the arrivals area where at least a hundred people were waiting for passengers from various lengths of the world. I thought that must be where Maria would meet me. I was already 30 minutes past my landing time so I was sure she had to be there but there was no one. No sign for Alicia…or Alice. To make matters worse it was 32° in the airport (89° F). So sweaty profusely and nervous, I made my first spanish encounter. First I asked a pleasant looking teenage girl if she knew where the phones were, she said she’d never seen a pay phone in the airport. Right, because of course everyone has cellphones nowadays. I then asked if I could use her phone to make an phone call in Spain – she said of course! Feeling relief on the way I quickly dialed the number my host mom had given me…dial tone….nothing. I tried her husbands number, same thing. I told the girl and she said she must be out of credit on her phone – sorry. Panic clung to me again. The next phone I set to conquer belonged to a older couple – same thing seemed to happen this time but just as I was handing back the phone to the woman – it rang. I answered and it was Maria! Finally. She said she was buadsfkjlasdf. What? buusadf! I told her I was at the arrivals, wearing a blue shirt and glasses. She said she was wearing a orange shirt and blue shorts. She would find me. 

I handed the phone back to the woman – the screen definitely had some of my lovely sweat on it. I thanked her a million times and went back to waiting with my huge suitcase. I looked down at my shirt to make sure I looked my best – shit. Is my shirt green or blue? It’s that seafoam green color that everybody loves this year. I picked the shirt up with Rachel and Raelene in Seattle before I went to the East Coast and then Spain – we thought it would be great because it was comfortable, modest and made my eyes pop (thanks seafoam!). I always call seafoam blue but others say it’s green. What if Maria never finds me because she thinks seafoam is green too?! 

Is she wearing a blue shirt and orange shorts or orange shirt and blue shorts? Why is everyone here wearing orange shirts?! I thought no one wore orange! As I had a mid-panic in my mind, sweating, and feeling my hair sticking to my forehead, neck, everywhere I saw a woman looking around. She was looking around like someone who is looking for a person whom they have no idea what they look like. I shyly approached her and she said “Alice?!” and I said a confident “Si!” and then she gave me the Spanish standard greeting – hold arms and kiss each cheek. She grabbed my suitcase and we set off. We didn’t get far because 15 feet later she stopped and said, “Can you take out your nose anarillo?” (nose ring). My heart dropped, my nose ring? I love my nose ring, it reminds me of Seattle and it makes me seem a little bit more interesting. I got it on Election Day last year, a semi-dumb “Hey I just voted for the first time – America!” type of thing. That, and I had wanted it for a while. 

I turned to Maria and told her, no I can’t take out my nose ring, it was in the picture of me in my application, she must have seen it then too. She told me she hadn’t, but she wanted it out “for the children”. What? I know parents like to protect their children but my nose ring is harmless, hardly noticeable. One reason I like it so much is because it blends in with my face. But she was insistent, I told her I could change it to a stud if she wanted but I would not take it out completely. She was worried. Then she changed subjects and said we should find the car. Finally. After traveling from Boston to Madrid to Barcelona and then waiting for an hour I was exhausted. Maria can’t seem to figure out where the parking garage is so she has to ask at least 5 people and get literarily guided to the garage. Then, she can’t remember what floor she was on. There are 8 floors in the Barcelona parking lot. She goes up to the ticket counter and asks the man where her car is, as if he would have an idea. The counter-man looks at me as if to say “is this woman serious?” and then turns back to her and says he has no idea where people’s cars are he only handles tickets. Maria starts talking to him heatedly and angrily, which is ridiculous because this is not his fault in any way. She tells me to wait and she will find the car. 20 minutes later she screeches up to me and my luggage. I, brain dead and tense, get into the car for the 30 minute ride to Igualada.