On the only day I spent in MÃ¡laga, it rained. I sat with a tiny Spanish girl and a loud, crass Spanish boy on the bus ride, as grey drizzle came down on the rolling hills that were covered in a carpet of olive trees. On that day, I spoke at most ten words of English. The rest of the time I made a brave attempt at speaking Spanish. As we filed off of the tour bus, with the Spanish students chattering away, it began to rain harder. I was quiet, dreading the deluge of water that waited to soak me from head to toe. I hadn’t thought to bring an umbrella, since it had been simply overcast when I left the hotel in the morning, so as soon as I stepped off the bus, I was soaked. I pulled my navy cardigan closer and bent my head against the downpour
“Would you like to share my umbrella?” a voice said behind me, speaking rapid, flawless Spanish. I looked around to see David, a tall, thin boy who had been so kind to me the whole trip, though he had only met me once before in the
“Yes, please.” I scooted quickly under the umbrella and we followed the others down a long, broad marble street, lined with shops and restaurants, slick with the morning’s drizzle and getting more slippery by the minute as the rain kept coming down. I spent the rest of the day at his side, stopping by a little coffee bar where he bought me an espresso, dragging him into nearly every shoe store I saw in search of the perfect pair of bright patent heels that were so popular in Madrid, eating lunch at the Spanish equivalent of Jimmy Johns where he bought me an olive oil sandwich, and finally meeting up with the rest of the students by a crowded, inexpensive jewelry store. I was completely overwhelmed by the thousands of cultural differences that I had been bombarded with in the past few hours. I gazed into the store at the dazzling display of rings as we waited for our chaperones to decide what to do next. David followed my eyes to the display case, turned to me and smiled.
“Wait here for a minute. I’ll be right back,” he said. As I forlornly watched his black umbrella walk away, he called back over his shoulder, “Why don’t you go talk with Maria Angela?”
I turned again to see a tall, thin girl walking towards me. She introduced herself as David’s best friend, and asked me question after question about American food, clothes, holidays, schools, anything and everything she could think of. She was so friendly, and she seemed truly interested in all our strange American customs. She thought it was extremely odd that I would be involved in two different sports, as well as play an instrument in the band. She couldn’t believe how much Americans depend on their cars, instead of public transportation. In the middle of my explanation of how and why Americans frequently eat in their cars, David returned, holding a small plastic bag.
“Here. This is for you,” he told me with a grin. I pulled a white cardboard box out of the bag and looked at him, confused, as I opened the lid. I looked down and saw a beautiful silver ring.
“I want you to remember your trip,” he explained, a worried look on his face, afraid that I wasn’t going to like the gift.
I thought back over the past week that I had spent away from home, hearing many different languages as I rushed through the airport in Amsterdam, chatting with a hotel clerk in Madrid, drinking champagne at the famous FÃ©ria in Seville, buying a gauzy scarf in Granada, climbing the tower of the Mezquita in Cordoba, playing a guessing game with several local high school students at a career fair in Antequera, listening to a guitarist from my hotel balcony on the last night in Spain. It had been a truly wonderful experience. I couldn’t believe that I would be going back to the sparse, cold freeways of southeastern
“I could never forget this trip,” I replied, smiling, and gave him a gigantic American hug, as well as a Spanish kiss on both cheeks.
*All dialogue is spoken in Spanish
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