This is a blog chronicling our adventures in Spain for the academic year 2011-2012. We are serving as English language assistants in high schools in Laredo, Cantabria.
We arrived to the Barajas airport in Madrid without any excessive travel zits and in decent moods. The flight had been smooth and the in flight food option edible (even vegan!). After deplaning, the first question I was asked by the passport control officer was whether or not I was española. Being mistaken that early on for a native, I left feeling ready to conquer Spain. This all changed when we lugged three bursting 50lb suitcases, a carry on roller bag, a laptop case, a back pack and a purse onto the bustling Madrid metro. Getting on was easy… getting off, riding up escalators, trudging down stairs, finding elevators and making it to the bus that would take us to Salamanca was a totally different beast. All that to say, please take a taxi to the bus station if you have anywhere near that much luggage.
Once on the way to Salamanca to visit our good friend Patry, our moods brightened, but only until we realized we were on the bus that stopped in every pueblo imaginable in Castilla y Leon. What would easily be a journey accomplished in two hours by car took somewhere close to four. Finally we arrived in Salamanca where Patry fed us crema de calabacín (zucchini puree with cheese) and albóndigas (meatballs). It was truly a great welcome meal to Spain. Appropriately, we napped for 3 hours and awoke to a lively evening, with the streets full of students enjoying the start of a new university term. A tapa of fried bacon fat on a piece of white bread served as dinner. Afterwards, we were ready to hit the sack.
At 8 am the following morning, we boarded the bus for our ride to Santander. Patry assured us we would only be en route for four and a half hours tops, but after six hours of riding, we wondered when we’d ever see the bus station of Santander. We thought we were home free since all that remained on our journey to Laredo was a forty-five minute trip (by bus). We were wrong again. The bus was jammed full of sweating, smelly teenagers and to make matters worse, the air conditioning was on the fritz. When we finally put our feet on the ground in Laredo, we couldn’t have been more thankful.