On the flight to Madrid I randomly sat next to a PhD student who works with plasma space propulsion drives. I mentioned our native MTU Dr. King, and lo and behold, it turned out that this dude (Mike Riley)—knows Emily Fosset, who is dating my old friend Matt Blanck. Ha, the world is small. It was fun.
Madrid was really nice with a brand new airport, and really cosy and all socialisty-feeling, and all that other good stuff I’ve mentioned before about Spain.
Next, I flew to Toulouse, took a bus into the centre-ville, and at 4:15 I will take a bus to the tiny town of Aire-sur-l’Adour, where I join the Chemin de Saint-Jacques.
So here I am in Toulouse and feeling a bit shell shocked, since it is after all, 4am PST. And now that I am in France, I have this craving to smoke. So I think I’m going to buy a pack of cigarettes and do it. Heh heh, aren’t I bad. Toulouse is nice but it’s raining. I will walk around and check out the city though, I have about 3 hours.
This is the 10 year anniversary of my first trip to Europe!
Anyways, in those days I dreamed of moving to Europe and having a European life here. I suppose that is probably more possible for me now than ever, but I am not sure I want to as much as I used to… I kind of like living in my own country, in beautiful San Francisco, and I also like working with internet companies, and so—there you have it—why would I leave?
Anyways, so traveling doesn’t affect me quite in the electric way it used to, but when I arrived in Madrid, I bought a coffee and a bocadillo, and it tasted different. It tasted like Spanish food. And then I kind of woke up, and looked around, and I was like—OMG—I am in Spain! And I felt pretty excited about it, and really happy to have taken these six weeks for myself. It will be really fun.
After 10 years of thinking about foreign countries, I think—what they do to people like me is—ok, so you’re in the foreign place, and you realize—you’re really ignorant about this place, right? Everyone looks exotic, and they’re speaking in a language you don’t really understand, and going about their foreign country and living their foreign lives and … I perhaps am a bit of a romantic, so how this affects me, is that I imagine that everything about these places is impossibly cool. They are chattering away in their foreign language, and I can’t understand, and so I surmise these conversations must be extremely awesome, and I have an overwhelming desire to dig in and figure it all out and become a part of this different life.
Of course, en gros what happens when you do study and take the time and understand, is you realize that the foreign life is actually just life and everything is basically the same. And the conversations that seemed so fascinating, when you can understand them, are basically the same drivel that passes for conversations everywhere else.
But not to be such a downer, of course there are things about foreign countries that are really unique and those things, in the end really do enrich your life and, I think anyways, make it all worthwhile. The best thing is probably just realizing that everyone everywhere is just a person just like you, regardless of where they live or what language they speak. And that knowledge, as simple as it seems, affects your opinions about life on earth in pretty important ways.