The time is approximately 7:00 AM as I bid farewell to my grandmother inside of the Pittsburgh International Airport. While I anticipate feeling a piece of my heart being ripped out, it never takes place. Instead I am greeted with a speedy pulse and the comprehension of our parting being “hasta luego” rather than “adiós”.
I walk over to join a motley crew consisting of my Spanish teacher and peers I know vaguely. Nevertheless, as our teacher guides us around the airport to locate our boarding gate, an instantaneous connection forms. From the countdown timers set almost two years prior to earning money from any job obtainable, each individual possesses an eagerness and dedication to explore Spain. We continue our idle chatter until, suddenly, a Spanish-accented voice over the intercom announces “we will now begin boarding for flight KL6771 from Pittsburgh to Madrid”. A comfortable silence occurs as we wait in line to get on the plane. My hand trembles while I present my plane ticket to the worker, yet a smile is still plastered on my face. Inside the plane, the flight attendant informs us that our overnight trip will last roughly eight hours. Throughout the entire flight I am surrounded by passengers in a deep slumber, while my heavy eyelids juxtapose my busy brain forbidding me to sleep. Finally, after what seems like years, the plane descends onto the runway signaling our arrival in a foreign land.
Experiencing what I imagine Christopher Columbus felt in 1492 when Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon sponsored his voyage to the “New World”, I am both stimulated and enriched. We gather our luggage and wait for our tour guide whilst simultaneously soaking in the rays of sunshine. In less than five minutes a short and bubbly woman named Sonia escorts us to a coach bus to go to the hotel. Granted, the days exploring Madrid never fail to dazzle me. Whether it be viewing the Stradivarius quartet inside of the Palacio Real to interpreting Picasso’s “Guernica” in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid undeniably displays the extravagant architecture, works of art, delicious food, historical sites, and diverse culture it has to offer.
And although every destination allowed me to engage in new experiences, it is the unaccompanied day in Segovia I recall developing a new perspective on the world. No longer am I bombarded with souvenir shops trying to sell me abanicos or herds of tourists unreasonably rushing throughout the city. Rather soft murmurs from locals in a café combined with the music chords belonging to a lone guitarist flow through the Plaza Mayor, producing a tranquil atmosphere. The welcoming ambience carries in every part of the city’s narrow streets, even to the Plaza del Azoguejo, where the ancient Roman Aqueduct stands. My eyes widen as I gaze at an almost two thousand year old monument. Its sheer size alone causes my jaw to slightly drop, but even more so after I am informed the twenty five thousand granite blocks are held together without any mortar. It is upon viewing the Aqueduct and the Alcázar of Segovia, a castle with similar Roman origin, that I feel a connection to all of the time these monuments have been standing as well as the significant people associated with them. The history books I have been taught from slowly begin to lose their impact, the memories I have made in Spain now fill its space. To most, my trip remains in the past, but for me, the culture I have absorbed lives with me daily.
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