Friend #2

Trip Start Jun 13, 2008
Trip End Jul 04, 2008

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Where I stayed
Alberto's Flat

Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Catalonia,
Thursday, June 26, 2008

I arrived in Barcelona. Alberto told me that I'd be meeting his friend Lluis and that he'd drive me over to where Alberto lived. I waited outside McDonald's forever and couldn't find Lluis or anything. Eventually a guy with grey hair came up to me and asked "¿Suárez?" to which I replied "sí." Apparently I didn't look like the traditional American with the jacket, cap and suitcase. We had to eat at McDonald's because Alberto and Cristina wanted to have the promotional glasses that came with the Value Meals. Neither of us enjoyed the food, but really, we were cornered into having it. Well my McPollo served its purpose. I was so glad that Lluis was able to speak very clearly without going too quick, because I wasn't yet used to Spanish and I was able to catch everything he said. Lluis was expecting me to have a backpack, which made a bit of an issue taking on his moto. Somehow going to his flat worked out because he was able to put the suitcase on the moto without us taking a crash. Then we took a two and a half hour trip over to Rialp. I had no idea it was that isolated. I'm so glad that Alberto's friend was able to help me out and give me a ride. I would've never been able to see Alberto otherwise.

Seeing Alberto was a bit strange. He looked different. He had a girlfriend. He was renting his own flat and had his own job. He was away from home and nowhere near Vigo. It was strange. We wanted to catch up, but we weren't familiar with each other. I'm sure I looked much different as well. I had longer curly hair. I'm in grad school. I've matured. I'm sure I'm more fit than I was back in 1999 as well. So much has changed. Underneath it all I could still feel that he's my brother. After the awkward catch-up talk, we were able to reminisce about all the good times we had back in García Barbón. He didn't really show his excitement, but I could tell he was. He couldn't wait to call up his mom and tell her that I was there with him. As such, we made plans that I would visit her in Vigo. Oh, how times barely passed. Eight years isn't much, but it's almost a third of my life. And to think I only spent 6 months over there too, only two percent of my life.

To show me around, we decided to go on the path behind the flat near the creek. Cris was there, as well as Lluis' girlfriend. Cris is actually from Brazil, so we took the opportunity to practice the Portuguese. And Montse was from Vigo. So in actuality, we all had another language, since Lluis knew Catalan. Eventually at the creek some water was splashed, and then rocks were thrown to create bigger splashes. I had the camera, so I was not a target. Afterward, we went back home and watched Operación Triunfo which is pretty much what Spanish Idol is these days. There was an American on the show and he barely spoke Castellano and he really didn´t try to sing in Spanish, so I got annoyed with him. Plus I just didn´t think he sang well. Makes sense if he couldn´t make it out in America.

The next morning I didn't wake up until noon. So nice to wake up late for once. Plus we were up late last night celebrating Spain's win over Russia. That day we went to Llavorsí which is a town where three rivers meet. It was neat to see the different colored water join up. At that point, I had no idea how I was going to leave this place. I knew I had to get to Vigo and plus I wanted to take a jaunt into Andalucía for a bit. I didn´t know if Lluis was going back to Barcelona the next day or if he´d be able to take me to some train station or what. They all thought I´d be staying for a week or so. I didn´t even plan to be in Rialp for more than two days, but I couldn´t leave just then. I had to really cut down on my destinations just to get to see everyone. But this journey was all about seeing people all over again, so that was fine for me. So that day I was able to figure out that I´d leave on Sunday then go take a two day journey to Andalucía and then finally up to Vigo to finish it out. That night, I was able to show Alberto some photos and he was able to show me what his last seven years have been like.

On my final day in the Pyrenees, it was Lluis´ birthday. So it was a day for celebrations. Couldn´t be better to be in the mountains with old friends. It was also a good day for Lluis because he had phone calls about job offers. In Spain, the economy was poor with unemployment being so high. Outsourcing has killed a lot of the jobs. Alberto´s been having issues as well. Pretty much every conversation when I was there was about difficulty finding jobs. I felt bad that I won´t be in a similar situation. Well I had invited Alberto to work in the states once. He was too afraid to do it though. After lunch we headed to La Pobla de Segur and visited a lakeside beach. It was a very refreshing day and I got a chance to talk with Alberto and Cris about our futures and our pasts. And they were also excited to talk about the possibility of Obama. Tell a person you´re American and they´ll try to get you to announce your support for Obama no matter who you actually back. That night, we went a dance club, and there many cycling teams that were passing through. They wanted to dance. It was hilarious to see their antics after they all downed a bottle of ouzo. There was a friend of their´s that joined us. He spoke primarily in Catalá. I understood nothing. I sat there in silence. I just thought he had a lisp or something.

In the morning, I woke up and got ready. Lluis woke up as well for the journey to Lleida. Alberto said the previous night that he would come too to see me off. But he was nowhere to be seen. We hadn´t said our goodbyes the previous night, so I was worried. Lluis was ready to go. I had to go and knock on his bedroom door and basically shake him awake. He quickly got ready and we set off. We got to the train station after a silent car ride. When they had left, it took me a while to realize what had happened. I had visited my Spanish brother. And in just a few days, I´ll see my other one. Didn´t really catch at first. Because it really just felt like yesterday but being at the train brought me back to present day.
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