Stop #1 – España (Spain)
Vagabond (Adjective) meaning – Nomadic, Leading an unsettled or Carefree Life, Having an uncertain or irregular course of direction. A term interwoven into the work, lifestyle and ethos of many musicians, artists & explorers. Noteworthy Album – Vagabonds of The Western World – Thin Lizzy.
Thanks for taking the time to read.
The Path of a twenty-first century vagabond, traveling for an indefinite period, throughout Europe A.K.A the western world is certainly exciting and often carefree but have no doubt about it, it’s not always a walk in the park. The road less traveled is riddled with many dangers, chaos, mayhem and a number of life lessons, which I plan to tell you, the reader, all about.
Two Days ago, on the 4th of May, I had an epiphany. while I was at work, sitting in a history lesson ( my favourite and last class of the day) observing my colleague giving a lecture on Human Evolution, my mind began to wonder. After a while when we arrived at the characteristics of Homo Sapiens I began to daydream about being a nomad in a foreign land. My mind jumped from savannas, to an oasis in the Gobi desert and the unknown grasslands and plains of Africa, then funnily enough the student in front of me who, unlike the other students was doodling instead of taking notes, noticed and whispered to me, ‘hey , Ernan! I snapped back to reality. ‘ Yeah , what? – I said. ‘did you hear about the explosion today? ‘ he inquired. ‘No, what explosion? , wait tell me after class’ I said. About Ten minutes later, the bell rang and I went over and asked the lad to explain what he was beginning to tell me about during class. The lad, along with one of his friends proceeded to explain to me , in broken English , that there had been an explosion 15 km south of our school. I began to think the worst, It was big red button time, a nuclear bomb had gone off, and we were near the blast radius or maybe war had spread and broken out in europe. But no, thankfully, my initial thoughts were wrong. It was a chemical explosion – A factory was blown to smithereens in a little town south of Madrid at around mid day and I hadn’t heard a thing as I was in music class at the time playing a lady gaga song using Boom whacker’s, oblivious to the outside world. Anyways, 15 people were injured and 3 were seriously injured, smoke, ash and toxic gas was shot into the atmosphere and the sky turned grey and murky. By the time I finished school about 3 o’clock, it had cleared somewhat but there was still a taste of pollution and dust in the air. While I walked home I thought ‘damn , life is too short, anything can happen in this day and age’. I need to make the most of everything. When you look back at the amount of People who passed away, personal friends, family and associates, sports people, Musicians, Writers , Icons and inspiring people who died in 2016 ~ Prince, Bowie, Lemmy & Howard marks to name a few ~ It really puts life into perspective. I’ve learned a lot this year about myself and the big bad world between completing Final year, writing a thesis, graduating from Uni and being thrust into the world as a Graduate to a number of Life Lessons – I feel like Dustin Hoffman – disillusioned but focused on what matters. Spreading the good word
Like many well-known writers and explorers, who possess a curious mind, a love for warmer climates and who have experienced wanderlust ( George Orwell and E.Hemmingway come to mind), I have decided to visit spain for a couple of months to immerse myself in the spanish culture and way of life. They say history repeats itself and I believe it does because a close relative of mine came to Spain when she was twenty something also to teach and explore, coincidence? who knows. So far, It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am enjoying everything about the Spanish way of life.
A) The climate here suits me perfect ( Temperatures throughout April ranged from 10-26 degrees celsius and as far as I can remember it has only rained maybe 3 out of the 32 days I have been here) and as a result, I have never felt healthier. They say your health is your wealth so in that sense I’m minted, for now.
B) The majority of the people I have met and spoken with so far are very friendly, welcoming, helpful and are more than willing to converse with me in English, my native tongue, as for now, my spanish is basic, but I am learning new words and phrases every day, more on that later.
C) (Skip this bit if your hungry)The Cuisine here is amazing! I can’t stress that enough. Although Spanish people eat at different times throughout the day, often having their Dinner much later than people in Ireland (between 9-11pm is the norm) I have now become accustomed to eating later. I have tried a number of the native dishes during my time here and I can’t wait to try more. Some new foods I have tried since I arrived here include ; Tortilla ( like a spanish omelette with potato’s and Egg) , Octopus/ Squid , Rabbit, and my favourite so far Paella – viewed by many non-spaniard’s as Spain’s national dish, Paella comes from the region surrounding the city of Valencia (where the delicious oranges also come from) near the Albufera lagoon – there are many versions of this dish – Mixed paella is a rice dish cooked in a free-style, combining meat from land animals such as Rabbit, Chicken or Turkey or Sea Animals, Vegetables, beans and olive oil. One word. Delicious. More on my experience tasting traditional seafood Paella later. Furthermore, the drinks that go hand in hand with Spanish food are also very tasty. Some of my personal favourites include – Sangria, Cervesa Limon on Draft (Lemon Beer) and Red wine. There is a huge selection of Vino Tinto & Blanco – ranging from Cartons for 1-2 euro to bottles priced from anywhere from 2 euro upwards depending on budget and personal preference. I also enjoy and admire the tradition of Spanish Tapas ( sharing plates) that accompany each round of drinks in the majority of bars, Cafe’s , gastropubs and restaurants. Common tapas dishes include – Patatas Bravas ( not just chips and ketchup as many people believe but a mix of spicy salsa, herbs and Fried potatoes) – ( Check out this link for more views, opinions and common conceptions of patatas Bravas http://m.asivaespana.com/otros/un-periodista-britanico-critica-la-comida-espanola-y-estalla-la-guerra-contra-el-en-internet ), Fritas, jamon , chorizo, cheese and sliced tomato. Indeed it makes sense to have something to munch on while you are drinking with a friend or family member and you are left throughly full and satisfied after an evening at a tapas bar. This is quite unlike the Irish way – for example on the emerald Isle – If you have a dinner, it would usually be around 6 or 7pm, then you would head out to a pub tavern or club, drink a couple of beers, shorts or glasses of wine, munch on a pack of peanuts maybe, drink some more until full/ jolly/ well oiled and then grab a take away – my preference over the past few months was a spice bag (Chicken, veg and chips) but noodles or a burger usually does the trick. Anyway, I digress, but I would recommend trying both ways to find your niche. You’ve all heard the phrase ‘ You are what you eat’ well I think the Spanish/mediterranean diet suits me down to the ground.
One more thing, I’m really enjoying the spanish tradition of daytime naps, known as a Siesta, usually taken after lunch (often between 2-4) when the weather is hot . What a great Idea! It is a nice little treat to grab forty winks after a full days work and a gym workout or swim. Although I do find it difficult to do on my days off, no rest for the wicked eh….
Here’s a little poem that’s stuck in my head; anyone know the title? Comment below
‘I’m a rambler , I’m a Gambler, I’m a long way from home,
And if you don’t like me, well leave me alone,
I’ll eat when I’m Hungry , Drink When I’m Dry,
And If the Moonshine don’t kill me, I’ll live till I die.’..
Finally, I’m currently in Madrid – A city that is roughly 650 m above sea level ( Quite a drastic change in environment for a man used to kicking it at sea level on the beautiful blue flag beaches of Eire) and a population of over 6 million humans – Located near a place called plaza Cervantes. Cervantes wrote Don Quixote so he’s like the Willie Shakespeare of Spain. So Far I’ve visited ; Alicante, Albacete Murcia, Toledo and Oceana. On the cards next is San Sebastian, Barcelona & Valencia. More on that later. Anyway’s that’s all for now folks. I’ll leave you with my Quote of the day ;
‘Say Yes to new adventures’ – Unknown