“But why didn’t you to Paris?” Drea asked, interrupting my long-winded tale of how I ended up walking Camino Santiago.
Stanley is from Sudan. When he approached us, we told him we didn’t speak Spanish to avoid him. He switched his language to English and said, “Please, I speak English too. I implore you to help me.” We hesitated for a minute, and Alysse handed him a euro.
“Thank you so much,” he said, and he slumped his shoulders and took the euro with appreciation and guilt. I couldn’t help myself, “What’s your name?” I asked. His name is Stanley.
I said, “I love Rome, but it doesn’t have the public transportation like the other European cities.”
He shook his head.
“They start to, how do you say ‘scavare,’ excavate, dig to begin, and then they find something. They always fucking find something. They plan a transit and say, ‘Maybe we will build a metro here,’ and everyone is happy. Then they dig and it’s always the same: they find some other fucking room or some secret tunnel for a king and have to stop.
We meet again, Rome. Rome, with your dangerously unpaved roads and cobblestone alleys that look straight but are actually circles that dead end or lead to more circles that laugh at your lost travellers in the dark as they struggle through the streets with broken suitcases. Rome, with your fast-paced civilians and lightening speed bicycles zipping in and out of the throngs of nameless tourists and locals never looking back at the unintended chaos they’ve created. Rome, with your gray skies and heartless cold, foggy streets under flickering lampposts rolling hauntingly beneath brown and red apartments with all of the windows shut up. Rome, with your limited technology limiting communication and unreliable transportation rendering us unable to penetrate the city walls, trapping us in the interior as the rest of the world goes on wondering and I, unable to communicate and alone find myself powerless to the confines of my own loneliness. But who was that person then?
I love art. I love museums. I like the way shoes echo through the open space. I like the clean walls and beautiful typography. I enjoy looking at the masterpieces inside, but I have never before felt any sort of life changing revelation until I went to Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid.
Bad days happen no matter where you are so it’s important to remember that you may encounter a bad day while on your adventure abroad. I’m currently in Madrid, and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been redefining my original definition of “do less, leisure more.” I’ve been sleeping in, exploring the cities, writing more articles, reading more books, taking full advantage of the siesta, and partying like a real Spaniard. My biggest complaint is that I can’t find Siracha at the supermarket.