“Spain is a Third World Shithole”

21 Nov

I received the title text from my brother a few days ago and it got me thinking about the ins and outs of travel. He has to travel for work, which he extremely dislikes. A flight we were on as children essentially attempted to land in a hurricane, and instead was forced to make an emergency ascent straight up back into the air (*this can cause an explosion).

While it was a pivotal moment for me and the start to my thrill seeking young life, it was the beginning of my brother’s desire to play it safe; both of which we still do.  But it is not only the safety issue, and the annoyance of being crammed into a steel box literally like a can of sardines, but his desire to stick with the familiar that keeps him from enjoying some of the nuances of travel, and from becoming a Traveler.

And he is not alone. I’ve had multiple friends who think they deserve biscuits and gravy for breakfast every morning in England, can’t understand why no one has iced coffee in France, demands a working air conditioner and WiFi in Greece, and are uncomfortable with all the kissing and real live human contact in Spain.

Like feral children raised by wolves, to me they have missed some vital piece of social development that can never be  attained, because it cannot be appreciated later in life.  We just get used to being too comfortable.  They missed the garbage-bag-suitcases-stay-in-hostels-with-bedbugs-share-liters-of-Cruz Campo-in-a-park-in-Barcelona-with-homeless-people phase of life, and now they have no patience for the beautiful essence of travel; inconvenience.

My last few flights have been cancelled out of Nashville (FUCK YOU UNITED/AMERICAN AIRLINES), I’ve missed multiple flights in a day while at the airport in France, spent the night on a bus station floor in Spain, used a payphone that I’m pretty sure had been smeared with excrement at some time in New Mexico, dove for dumpster donuts in Philly, get chased by an 8 foot moray eel in Cozumel, lost my keys in a boat that was falling apart and filled with can lids and something horrible (this one I’ve actually blocked out) in Portugal, “reheated” pizza on top of a radiator in Prague, get sucked into a riot after the War in Iraq began (no a la guerra, ortro mundo es possible!), thrown up into a castle moat in Scotland, bleed all over the steps of Valle de Los Caidos because I didn’t have a tampon and toilet paper in Spain is more like tracing paper, and who knows how many stitches and tetanus shots are from someone who doesn’t speak the same language as me – but I’ll be damned if those aren’t the memories I can still smell, touch and feel they are so vivid.

I’ll take the blood and guts any day.

 

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Rachel Louise Martin, Ph.D.

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