Vignettes

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I was cold today. This is a new sensation for me in Altea. In my previous experience I was hot every day, all day. Today the sea breeze was cool and chilled each of us. Some how, we each last minute threw in a sweater or jacket just to be safe. I remember packing a yellow sweater and thinking I was crazy, “I’ll never wear that!” Today, I wore just that.

I walked the stairs again for the first time. Though, they are many, part of me couldn’t wait to concur them and build them into the routine of my day. Walking, movement and exercise are part of the gift of this place to me. This past year the movement I experienced was in my heart and not in my body. In many ways, it felt my body became paralyzed as I began addressing my heart in a new way. I had enough energy to feel, but not to move. I’m glad to be in a place where movement is a necessity and not a privilege.

Today I walked to buy stamps, make copies, purchase some materials for the group who will soon be arriving, and say hi to friends with whom I wanted to commit. I didn’t have to ask where I was going, I love knowing how to maneuver the streets which two years ago felt more like a maze than a grid of any kind. As I showed Stephanie and Cate around I felt as though I was introducing them to my town. We wove in and out and up and down, my resting face is a smile as I walk.

As the errands were run I would walk into the stores and immediately approach the person behind the counter as though I was from a small town in the Midwest. I’d smile and start talking. I of course know very little Spanish, but like Cate and Steph observed and recanted to me later, I talk as a local, an expert and completely confident in my language skills. I do not allow a measly little fact like I don’t actually speak Spanish get in the way of me making friends and having a conversation. There are too many words to be spoken and heard to let such an insignificant fact get in the way. Truth be told, I do have conversations, but I so long to be fluent. I so badly want to hear the tiny details of one’s heart and the visions of the mind. My concentration is such that I weary myself by days end from language acquisition alone. I will one day be fluent. I don’t know when or how, but I will become fluent. This is a fact.

We had staff meetings on the Terraza this afternoon. Together we listened to the story of Edge and the story of Arianna, Edge’s founder. We then went over the calendar of logistics for the next month. The calendar is full. As soon as the students arrive our days will be filled with relationships, creating, teaching and walking alongside a group of up to 30 participants at one time. I am excited and after the logistical meeting, feel grateful we have one and ½ more days until the first person’s arrival. There is still much to be accomplished. Finishing up the details feels like squeezing the final clown in an overstuffed Volkswagen Bug. It will all get done, but the final push takes a little effort.

I moved into my home for the month tonight. It is perfect. The staff will all be staying together. It sits right in the middle of the oldest part of town and the most vibrant. We are surrounded by cafés and one of my favorites, which my friends Sara and David own, can be seen from my window. I sit in my bed as I type, hearing chatter below. It matters not that it is in Spanish, restaurant chatter, in whatever language, all sounds the same and holds the same relational energy. Forks and knives hit the plates, glasses clink as toasts are made, chairs are moved and laughter echoes. I love it all. When I look down I see those gathered at the outdoor cafes and when I look up I see the Old Church, for which Altea if famous. She is a beautiful building, which holds a story so rich in history it dates prior to the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades. I look at her and feel small. She has seen so very much, her story is grand and old and full of terror, grief, joy, sorrow, destruction and resurrection. I find comfort in her presence and remind myself that I too belong to a grand story.

A cat runs across the roof of a neighboring house. Birds fly to their nests tucked into the rounded terracotta tiles, roofing each home. Geckos scurry across building surfaces and pigeons with painted wings nest on near by roof tops. Everything has color. Every where I see life.

After we settled into our house we hosted our first meal. Seven of us sat on top of our roof sharing stories for hours. We laughed, cried, shared joys, difficulties and sorrows. We told our stories to remember good and to step into the stories of those with whom we’ll serve for the next four weeks. It is a beautiful thing to see strangers become friends through storytelling. Tonight was no different. Just over 24 hours ago, most everyone on staff was a name on a shared email list. And tonight, we are friends, brothers and sisters and coworkers living out of blessing to be blessing.

I no longer breathe out difficulty to breathe in good, but both breaths are filled with good.

We ended the night recalling the story of Joshua 4 and the Israelites crossing the Jordan and building an alter to remember all that God has done. I write this email with the same intent. I write to remember. I write to include you in my remembering. I write to invite you into the story of what is taking place here.

Thanks for remembering with me. What do you want to remember from this day? Take time to share it.

The students arrive

1011921_10200829627134801_810723006_nMonday came and Xara and I ran around town as we scurried to finish up final details for the students to arrive. Our first stop was the bank. I needed to exchange some money and she had some other business to take care of. I learned how to say, “Puede que Puedo cambiar algo de dinero,” which means, “may I exchange some money please.” It was my turn to go to the teller. I approached with confidence. I said my newly learned phrase and the teller mistook my confidence for fluency and began to talk to me so quickly as though he and I were totally on the same page. To his surprise, I knew nothing! I answered, “si” thinking it was the most logical answer. He then looked at me as if he were waiting for something. I looked back, but this time I was not so confident. My look gave my ignorance away. I then said, “yo entiendo, un poco,” I then summoned Xara to come to my rescue. It was goo thing as I basically had lied to the man when I had answered yes to his question.

The teller, Xara and I laughed and laughed. Soon the other teller joined in as well. I’m fairly certain the bank enjoyed our visit to their fine establishment. They were very somber and a little serious. Xara and I made friends that day. It was good.

We laughed our way through the streets, running into people we knew and taking absurd amounts of time to do the simplest of errands. As we finished our errands I came back to the house and finished up a few things here. I then joined Ariana and Xara for dinner (which is lunch time in the US). As we finished we got a call that the first students had arrived! Xara and I headed off to the bus station. We walked the mile there, then found out that they were at a different stop, so we walked another mile, then we came to find out they had actually stepped off their bus at the wrong town all together. We ended up standing around waiting for a bit. I was so curious to meet them as I’d not met them before. e

Soon enough we saw four Americanos walking towards us and we met up with them and it all changed!

In a good way.

Throughout the day students arrived and joined us. Our group steadily grew, until everyone who was to arrive was here.

That night we sat around a table and exchanged travel stories. We laughed, we listened. I watched as the students began to fade as their travels wearied them. The caretaker in me simply wanted to create refuge for them.

The group of students is varied. They are a huge gift. I’ve so enjoyed getting to know them.

I’ve enjoyed our times talking and listening to them, hearing bits and pieces of their stories and getting a sense for their hearts and relationships with Jesus.

I am thankful to be with students again, even for just a month.

Tuesday came and we toured the town. This was my first time to see the produce market as well as the goods market. We fist perused the famers’ market. The fruit and vegetables were incredibly deep in color and I was so in my element. We simply walked through to see what was there, then we traveled to the other side of town to see the goods market. Running through town is a bit like salmon swimming up stream. We stand out like Dorothy when she first arrives in OZ.

Once we arrived to the second market we were given the option of what to do next. One young woman and I decided to stay at this market and then go back to the farmers’ market following. I bought another dress. (I may just be converting to a new freedom of dress wearing) We then headed back to the farmers’ market and I purchased some lovely fruit and vegetables for the week. It was hard not to want to buy everything.

The food is fresh and good here. Tuesday afternoon I cooked lunch for my house. I roasted butternut squash, sweet potato and cauliflower. Cooked some beans. Cut up some red pepper and also put out some bread and manchengo. (I love manchengo) It was a great feast. I’m eating predominantly vegetarian here and am loving it.

Tuesday afternoon everyone had the option of going out and my house stayed together, laughing, connecting and sharing. (I hear them now as I type. It’s a good good sound.)

We then headed down to Casa Tereza for the evening. We held our orientation and heard more about the students. I am so impressed with them. They inspire me and make me laugh and amaze me with their talent and intellect and honesty. I’m excited to get to know more of their stories as the time goes by.

As I sat listening to Ariana talk about her experience as a missionary for over 30 years and the loneliness of the beginnings I could actually feel the lonely and sadness wash over me. I suddenly was struck by the fact that I am going to be out of my home for 3 months. THREE MONTHS! I thought about what it must be like for those who choose to move their lives to a place where they do not know the language to give of themselves to another people. I wonder how that feels when they realize they can’t just go home when they want. I wondered if the students would feel any of this tension. I think it’s a good place to be.

I’m learning more than I thought. The fact that I am going to be gone for three months actually is a part of the learning. There is joy here. There is hard here. There is sadness. There is good… such profound good.

There is much much more to come.

A place where everybody knows your name

DSC01009Saturday suddenly was here without a warning. The week has gone by so quickly I can hardly keep my days straight. Ariana and Xara had a wedding and a few other appointments on this day so I knew I’d have the day to myself. Instead of loneliness I was overcome with a sense of adventure, curiosity and playfulness. I got up, dressed and decided I would scout out the town and see what I could see.

Armed with my camera and my wallet I set out to explore Altea. I walked down the stairs to our beachside home and opened the door onto the main street. I turned left, crossed the street and stepped on the the olive grove. I took a few pictures, as I like to pretend I’m a photo journalist any time I get a camera in my hands. The world becomes art and it is mine to capture it. It’s funny there are things I see when I hold a camera that I would not see if I were simply walking around. (I like having a camera on my phone as it gives me this incentive to see the world as art with a desire to capture every moment of beauty.)

I had met a local artist whose sister owned a shop right off the olive grove. I stepped into the shop and was fascinated by everything I saw. She had very good taste and her store was filled with delicate beauty. Necklaces, earrings, purses, and the like filled the shop with colors and shapes that were unique and not over stated. I was able to speak just a bit with her. I knew just enough to tell her I thought her inventory was beautiful.

My curiosity kept me moving on. I passed by a bakery, the widows were filled with the most delectable of treats. Croissants, chocolate, and many unfamiliar delights beckoned on lookers. I watched as small children and adults alike closed their eyes, breathed in and took their first bite of their morning treats. I kept walking.

Next I walked down a main street filled with every kind of store imaginable. The stores are small and particular. One wouldn’t find a Target type store here. But the entire street felt much like a Target divided into small stores. So much life at every turn. Old and young alike filled the streets. Some were bustling along as though their agenda for the morning was quite full. Others sat and lingered enjoying being in the company of friends and family. It was a perfect picture of Saturday life; errands, fun, relationship, food, tears of small children as their mothers dragged them from store to store. Nothing was unfamiliar but everything was new. I smiled as I walked and watched.

Just about half way down the street I looked ahead and to my surprise I saw three people I knew walking towards me. Gloria, whose birthday I had celebrated the night before and the two youngest boys at the party were walking towards me. My Spanish teacher, smiled when he saw me. He pointed to his hair, I very quickly said, “pelo”. He nodded with satisfaction. We kept walking and he lifted his leg and made a burst of a sound from his mouth, I laughed out loud and said, “pedo!” We smiled and waved goodbye. I had passed my test. And I felt like a local. I had friends in this place  I had only been for four days.

I walked up the stairs to Old Town. It was not as busy here. The plaza was full of trucks and people setting up for the first night of the summer artist market. People were working hard to get ready for the evening. I felt a little in the way as people were very focused with their tasks. I then saw another friend I had made in my short first days. He is a local artist, he is bald, a little scruffy, has many tattoos, gauged ears and very distinct features. I find him intriguing and slightly curious. We greeted each other. I think we both were excited to see someone that we knew. (Ok, maybe I was just excited because I knew someone.) Our greeting was quick as he had much work to do to set up for the evening.

The artists make nearly all of their money in the short months of the summer market. During the months of July, August, September and October the upper plaza by the old church is filled with artisans on weekend evenings. At the peak of tourist season this is a good move and it adds to the unique artist flare I’ve come to love here.

I kept walking. I stepped into the church, a nun greeted me with a smile and pointed to a small box to place donations. She was very persuasive, even without my understanding, so I placed a euro in the box. The church was ornate and there was a sadness there. I was struck by that feeling as I stood in wonder at the gold trim and detailed paintings covering the canvas of the walls and ceilings. The stations of the cross were found on the pillars of the large room. I was struck by how cartoon like Jesus looked. He did not look like the Jesus presented in the grand cathedrals of Italy, but he didn’t capture me. He was pasty and almost lifeless. I think Jesus had life in his eyes even when he was suffering. These paintings did not do him any justice.

Up and down narrow cobblestone streets I made my way like a mouse in a maze. I looked around as a child at Disneyland for the first time. Every sight was new and yet familiar. I made up my mind to get back home before it was too late to enjoy the sun, so I traveled back down the stairs to my home on the beach. I am confident here. I am confident in my ability to get around, to enjoy the new and familiar.

I spent the next few hours in the sun interspersed with moments of cleaning and hanging the laundry out to dry. (Confession: I become a little giddy every time I hang something on the line to dry. It is as though I’m playing a role in a movie and am truly entering into my character.) I read, did some writing and breathed in the air of another lovely day on the Mediterranean.

It was now 8pm and I knew I wanted to go out. I showered and did my hair and put on a dress (I’ve worn a dress every day I’ve been here. I feel feminine and free. Many of the women here live in dresses. I’ll be writing more about my observations on uniquenesses of women and men in blogs to come.)

1001495_10152950892500004_2144905665_nNow dressed and ready I stepped out once again on my own. Unlike Wednesday where being alone brought up feelings of loneliness, today my being alone conjured up feelings of adventure. I headed back up the steps into Old Town. I got up the main steps and turned to the right as the road divides in two directions. I was going to head straight but saw a young toe headed child had dropped his yoyo from the plaza above. His sister was laughing and pointing and his eyes were filled with sadness. I walked over and picked up his yoyo. I showed him that I had it and he looked at me inquisitively. Was I going to keep it? Was I going to bring it to him? What was to come of his toy? I imagine these questions swirled in him mind. I walked out of sight and eventually turned the corner and entered the plaza where the young boy was trying to wiggle his way out of a family picture. When he saw me he smiled and hesitantly approached me. I reached out my hand and opened it unveiling his beloved toy. He squealed with delight. His father made sure he thanked me and he did.

Once our greetings were finished I continued to walk up the second set of steps onto the plaza where artisans had now filled the outlining spaces. I saw my friend again, this time he was accompanied by his girlfriend whom I also had met. I was happy to see her. They showed me their work and I was in awe. The jewelry I had seen earlier at the shop and loved, was his! His work was fine and detailed and feminine and lovely and beautiful. I touched it all and wanted to buy everything! Tonight I resisted. But I know I will purchase something before I leave.

I walked to each booth, looking at the result of each persons imagination and craft. The creativity amazes me. Art reminds me that we come from and were designed by a master Creator. The Creator Premier! I thought of my tattoo of a paintbrush and smiled as I too get to share in creation.

After perusing the booths I made my way down a side street where I entered a dress shop. The colors and patters were bold and bright. I found a dress that I thought was my kind of bold and I made the purchase. Again, feeling like a character in a movie I used my three year old Spanish with a little more confidence. The dress was exactly what I had been looking for.

(Women wear a lot of dresses here. They are feminine without being overdone and they are strong and confident and in touch with themselves. I’ve loved observing them. I feel as though we women from the states have so much to learn about true femininity. Its a beautifully powerful thing.)

After my purchase and my newly found confidence in my ability to speak Spanish I went back to a local cafe where I had met the owners with Ariana my first night out on the town. I easily found the location and as I turned the corner I met eyes with the owner whom I had met two days earlier. He greeted me as though I were a friend and we chatted a bit. I stepped inside of the cafe and sat down. I don’t normally go out to eat or drink alone, so this was a whole new experience. Sarah, who is co-owener of the cafe with her husband, assured me it is custom and very normal for people to eat or drink alone in Spain, as they will not be alone for very long. This was true. I was not alone very long.

I talked with a few locals, had the best mojito I’ve had, hands down and observed as people came and went. In the states we are enamored with the idea of the show “Cheers” a place where everybody knows your name. Her in Altea, it’s a normal part of life. People are genuinely interested in you and desire to be in relationship with you. This kind of warmth is inspiring and I pray that I will be the kind of person who treats others with this much investment from the get go.

I lingered at the counter for a few hours and then decided I wanted to head back home. I paid up, gathered my things and made the walk back to the Casa. I think I may have smiled the entire way. I had put on the character of a Spanish woman and I think I may have just pulled it off. I was free. I was confident. I was strong. I was vivacious.

The funny thing is, I didn’t need to be a character to play this role. I am these things. In the days leading up to this trip I have walked with a light step and a renewed spirit. Spain, it turns out, is a great place to put all of this new into practice.

What kind of character do you imagine yourself being? Who do you want to be? Tomorrow, goodness… today! choose to be the best version of you possible. Wear yourself well and be free. May you find your own Spain… that you can practice being you!

A birthday party

1aabaa29bb8a1287b3b06ffaf0fad544It was Friday night. We had been in Alicante all day, come home, taken a siesta (for which I’m so thankful!) and now we’re sassying ourselves up for the big party. Ariana and Xara had met Gloria in their first week living in Spain over 10 years ago. She is a bold, vivacious woman. I had only been told stories, but tonight I was going to meet her.

On our way to the party we were to meet another woman, Pillar. We arrived late to meet her and before an introduction could be made, this very well dressed Spanish woman scolded Ariana for being late. Though I couldn’t understand what she was saying, her lips were moving quickly and her fingers were pointing to her watch and her tone held such a pitch it sounded as though she were a chicken about to hatch an egg. She was not happy with our tardiness. We rushed off to a local shop and purchased a gift for Gloria.

(It is the custom in Spain for the birthday girl/boy to throw the party, buy the meal, pay for the drinks and all. Much different than the states where when it’s your birthday you are treated to everything! All day. So it is customary to bring a gift to say I’m glad you were born and I’m grateful for your generosity. There is so much to learn simply from observing and asking questions. I wonder if I miss out on things in the states because I forget to ask questions to understand.)

I followed the three women as they rushed into the store. They held clothes up and discussed their feelings on what was chosen. They discussed size and color. They went back and forth with studious looks as they observed the clothing wanting to choose just the right thing. At one point I felt I was at an art gallery more than a clothing shop as each woman stepped back, put their hand on their chin, squinted and commented on the apparel  before them. It was delightful. Pillar and I had yet to be introduced and just as though she saw me for the first time, she looks over at Ariana and scolds her for not introducing me before. She made sure Ariana knew how rude it was that I’d been here all along and she didn’t yet know my name. I enjoy Pillar and her sass. She reminds me of no one I know and she is full of spice and vivaciousness.

Pillar and I were quickly introduced and I once again used my three year old Spanish. I told her it was nice to meet her and that I understood very little Spanish. She smiled and I smiled and all was good.

We were off! We walked quickly down the paseo, much like women on a mission. We headed directly for our restaurant and barely stopped to say hi to friends we passed along the way.

I must say I was a bit nervous. My brain was already tired from the long day of integration in Alicante and now I was off to another event. The party was full of people and one or two spoke some English, but I was really on my own. This I knew from the get go. We showed up, I kissed each person from the left cheek to the right cheek, as is the custom, I said my greeting and then I stood a bit awkwardly. It was as though I was in the 7th grade and was invited to a party where I knew no one. Everyone around was talking and laughing and carrying on. At one point I almost burst into tears, but instead I took that fiest and turned it into gumption and joined in. I was determined to make a friend, hear a story, get to know someone or at least look like I was. I wanted to communicate gratitude to Gloria for including me and I wanted to communicate that I valued these people and their culture.

I watched for a bit, making a strategy of who I’d talk to and also simply just soaking in the scene. So much was similar to a gathering in the US, but so much was different. There were children at the birthday party. Two of them, a 10 year old and a 3 year old ran around playing, sitting at the bar and talking with others at the restaurant. No one was bothered and the bar tender seemed to like them at his counter. There was a baby in his stroller off in a corner asleep, every once in a while someone would glance in that direction, but for the most part, he seemed to be content, as did his parents. The men stood together. There is power in numbers in this group. And there were only 2 men at the party. The guests were varied. I could tell people loved Gloria. She had friends from Norway, Holland, Portugal, the US and Spain. She had friends who were old and some who were quite young. She was indiscriminate about who was invited to her table as people came from various places and stages in life. I grew fond of Gloria, though we talked little. Her inner kindness was seen as was her loneliness. She loved well and was quite loved.

I watched just a bit more, when I saw a woman free who I knew spoke some English. (In the above picture)

She was from Holland, and was firey and very salty. She had beautiful features, hair white as snow and dressed with color and flare. She stood out from the moment she arrived. Her red lips and blue eyes told a thousand stories before she ever spoke. We talked about the failing economy and how Europeans are fearful that one person will step up in the midst of this crisis as one person did the last time Europe was in financial ruin. That person was Adolf Hitler. There was fear in her. There was resignation in her. There was kindness in her.

After she and I had concurred the world I sat down next to Xara. She and I spoke for a bit when a young boy with a blue shirt, crew cut, olive skin and probably stood just about to my chest came over to me.  He said with bold assurance, “Hello. Nice to meet you!” I complimented him on his English and I asked if he would teach me a few words in Spanish. For the next hour he and I laughed as he was my teacher and I was his student. He taught me the difference between pelo (hair), pedo (to fart), pero (dog) and perro (but). We’d act out or make noises where appropriate. The entire party was observing my lesson and I’m fairly certain they enjoyed every moment. I know that I did.

Pillar grew tired and in an instant she wanted to leave. She grabbed me by the arm and we headed off without Ariana. We got just beyond the restaurant when she yelled to Ariana. I don’t know what it was, but I’m fairly certain it went a little like, “Ariana! Are you coming or not? We will leave you! Stop your dancing and get over here!” I late found out Ariana had been asked to teach the women a certain dance move as she was leaving. This was fun to observe and Pelar yelled and made comments under her breath. I smiled happily as I soaked in all the goodness.

The three of us walked home together laughing and talking. I carried on as though I’d known Pillar for quite some time and as though I knew everything being said. About half way home Pillar told me we would get together on a Saturday in two weeks. I was going to learn Spanish from her. (Yes! One more teacher and Yes! more time with Pillar. She is so curious to me.)

We dropped Pillar off at her home and Ariana talked and laughed our way to Casa Teraza. I went straight to my room and felt complete contentment. It was an exhausting but rich and full and good day. I was so thankful.

It seems I’m constantly invited into situations that remind me to step out, be bold, step in and learn and listen and be comfortable with discomfort. This I know I will take home with me. In this I know I must learn what Jesus has for me. How will I be a better friend? How will I better love those around me? How will I own my own differences and be comfortable being amongst those different from me? I hope I will one day have a birthday party like Gloria’s. One that is filled with difference, generosity, generations and lots of laughter.

Until next time.

Adios.

Loneliness and traveling

946523_10152941580870004_2120307944_nToday I was alone most of the day. I sat out on the terrace and wrote. I managed to talk with a friend from the states and caught up on some emailing. The overwhelming feeling of the day was not joy or curiosity, but loneliness. The two women here with whom I’ll be co-leading were out all day and I was here, by my self, all day.

The first night was filled with so much adventure and now here I was in this beautiful place, surrounded by so much good and yet all I could feel was that I was alone.

Just about the time tears were coming I received an email from a friend who had traveled much of last year. Her words to me were timely and prophetic. She spoke about being present here in Spain and not to long for things back in the states. I wrote her immediately and told her these words were good for me because I was feeling lonely. She wrote again telling me that lonely is a part of it and to lean into the loneliness and explore what lies there.

So I decided that sitting around the house was not a good way to dive into the loneliness and I put on my walking shoes and walked about 14klm along the sea. The number of cultures that collide in this one tiny town is astounding actually. I heard so many languages. I saw so many varied bathing suits, some I’d like to forget, and watched as old and young played in one space. I’ve rarely experienced such diversity in one place. I had made up my mind to walk until the paseo ended and as I reached the end, was so struck by all who were gathered there.

I made my way home, having leaned into my loneliness and having worked up some endorphins, and felt ready to approach the remainder of my day. It was going to be good.

(I think in our own contexts we know how to avoid feelings we’d rather not experience. I know at times I do. So, just like I want to dive in and experience all that Spain has to offer, I too want to explore all that might be awaiting for me personally in the adventure. Perhaps the loneliness is very good for me? Perhaps the loneliness is my teacher of things I long for and fear? Perhaps I’ll feel lonely a lot? There is a lot of lonely when one is in a country where the language is not understood and where one constantly has to choose to engage from the outside. How do we actually work to include those around us who are different? How do I keep people on the outskirts by my language? These ideas continue to come up and sift through my mind as though they too are my teacher. )

I came home from my long walk on the beach and got ready for an evening out. Ariana had returned from her meetings and we had dinner plans at a pizza place near by. Ariana is gluten free and finding places that serve “sin gluten” can be difficult. She had talked this particular restaurant into making gluten free pizza with flour she provided. This night they were going to try it for the first time and we were going to eat it. Watching Ariana with the Spaniards reminds me of what it must be like to go places with me in the states. Somehow she knows everyone and has no fear when it comes to making friends with the locals. (I still believe that most people want new friends and want to be noticed and are simply a question or two away from becoming such, no matter in what culture one lives.)

I was able to order in Spanish, which made me very happy. Though I’m sure I sounded like a three year old, I was using words and forming thoughts to communicate, albeit broken. I felt quite content with myself as I sat down and exactly what I wanted showed up at the table a few minutes later.

Ariana and I had a lovely conversation as we sat out in the middle of the paseo. (The restaurants along the paseo line the walkway furthest from the shore. Most have seating inside and all have seating outside. Depending on the space and the bike path which runs alongside the restaurants, some have seating up against their shop and others have seating in the middle of the paseo, going in order shop, bike path, seating, walking path, shore line. It’s actually quite lovely.)

When sitting in the middle of the paseo, I feel as though I’m a part of everything up close and personal. I like being in the middle of everything. I like having life happen all around on every side. I can feel lonely in that place. Life everywhere and me simply observing it. But at this particular time, I did not feel lonely as much as I felt an invitation to risk in conversation. Was I going to tell Ariana that I was lonely all day? I had felt foolish for even feeling lonely. It was only my second day, how was loneliness so prevalent?

I decided to risk and share of my day and my fears and my thoughts. It was good for me. I breathed in the air of the sea and breathed out the internal dialogue of my mind.

Traveling is good. It is a lonely good. The lonely is a part of it. The lonely speaks to what is unseen and often ignored in the busy of life. I think I will feel alone often. I think this will be good for me.