“50 YEARS OF ADVENTURES” advertised the world map in my grandparents’ family room. It was covered with colorful pins stuck in exotic places that some may never have even heard of. My grandparents were world travelers, and I wanted in on their experiences.
After having been waiting for ages, my wish came true on my fifteenth birthday. My grandma gave me a card which detailed that she’d take me to wherever I wanted to go. It was a one-time deal, just me and her.
That year had been my second year of Spanish classes. It was also the year I had fallen head-over-heels in love with the language and the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. In our textbook, we had learned about a Spanish city with so much different history it was dizzying. There was a fortress that housed Ferdinand and Isabella, a Gothic cathedral, and the centerpiece of it all, an ancient Roman Aqueduct running right through the center of town. The city was Segovia, and that’s where I had chosen to go.
My grandma and I have always been close, and most of that is because we have very similar personalities. One key quality in both of us is that we’re introverts; being around people for extended periods of time is pretty difficult for us, so we knew that there was a definite risk of us getting sick of each other during the trip. No matter what, though, the decision had been made, and we departed only a few weeks later.
I hadn’t known what to expect in a different country, really. The only time I had been abroad was to go to Niagara Falls, which is a stone’s throw away from the US anyway. I guess one could say that I was completely taken aback when we first landed in Spain. Everything was old, but in a good way. I’ve been told that most of Europe is like this, of course, with cobblestone streets and architecture from days long forgotten. I felt as if I had just stepped into a fairytale. The first night, fatigued as we were, we experienced some late-night Spanish culture with a Flamenco exhibition in a quaint restaurant hidden far down a dark alley. Compared to the area outside, the performance was more vibrant than anything I had ever seen, and its energy affected every member of the audience. The next few days were normal enough, we explored the city and toured La Catedral and El Alcázar. Unfortunately, the days are long, and a dry wind from Africa was causing temperatures over a hundred degrees. We were at our wits’ ends. The tension between us was tangible, and we couldn’t seem to stop arguing about where to eat and what to do – petty things. Worst yet, we had to wake up at three the next morning for a hot-air balloon ride!
I suppose there’s something about being stuck in a tiny place with a person that you’ve been arguing with that makes you want to clear the air. They do that in relationship therapy after all, don’t they? Not to mention the magical view. The sun was rising over the mountains, the horizon aflame with the red and yellow, the sandstone buildings below us practically glowing. Up there, everything seemed so small and unimportant. Why should we dwell on personal problems when there is a whole world to wonder at? Leaning out over the achievements of our ancestors, those from the 1500s, 1400s, and even the 80s, my grandma put her arm around me and we enjoyed our trip together. All was well.
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