No Rest For The Wicked

I am firmly ensconced in a hotel in Valencia. The same hotel I stayed at on my apartment hunting, bank account opening, personal assistant hiring, and lawyer engaging trip back in November of 2017. When I was so naive about moving to, and living in Spain. Like a babe in the woods. But, my experience in this hotel is very different this time.

From the moment Jeff dropped me off at the airport in Santiago, I have spoken Spanish. This was a distant dream in 2017. Back then, I needed others to do the talking for me. But this winter I have practiced speaking every day. And it is paying off. Is my Spanish anywhere near perfect? Nope. But I no longer care. I just talk. And I listen. And I am getting better.

Traveling without Jeff is helping. I think people hear us speaking ingles, and if they can speaks some they lead with that. Without him by my side, everyone on this trip leads with Spanish. And I respond in kind. At the airport, on the plane, after we landed a half hour early. No problema.

The Valencia airport is completely torn apart. To exit baggage claim you have to go to the far side of the airport. Then walk back to the Metro. Jeff loaned me his Valencia Metro card – I couldn’t find mine – so I recharged it as the train I needed pulled into the station. A half hour later I was checked in to my hotel and standing at the restaurant speaking to a waitress. In Spanish. There was a British guy there paying. He smiled and spoke to me in english. But I was having none of that. I answered him in Spanish. Dude! We all gotta at least try.

After a quick bite, I deposited my luggage in my room. Then walked to my Drs offices. Up the Turia. So familiar. As I got close I realized my favorite antiques place is on the way. We have a huge rug from there under our dining room table. I wanted to check their hours for the following day. But when I arrived they were open. It’s changed a bit. Less huge old pieces. More funky weird stuff. And then, I noticed new rows of shelves of used books. Valencia has many more places for books in ingles than Santiago. Pre-pandemic I bought a bunch of books for charity in support of the maintenance of the British cemetery in Valencia. I don’t remember how much it was but I was so thrilled to have books I didn’t care. It was a project spearheaded by my good friend, Donna. But a used bookstore selling books in Valencia in ingles was a dream wrapped in a literary fog.

In my antique shop I crept through the stacks. The place is like an old barn in the middle of the city. You have to take your time to find the hidden gems. I can’t tell you how much time I used to spend there. They got to know me and my foreign presence. It smells, frankly, like my grandmother’s attic. Eau de old lady. Its a hodgepodge maze. If I had a truck, there were things – odd things – I would have snagged. Cool stuff you will find nowhere else. But, it was the books this time that made my day. An entire bookcase of books in english.

I stood there reading jacket covers – just like standing at The Strand in NYC. Or Elliot Bay books in Seattle. Bookstores are my happy places. I had a limited amount of time before my Dr appointment, so I took all I could carry up to the counter. The old lady rang me up. €15 later and a full Massimo Dutti bag – we chatted about her new trade in english books, the fact that I lived in Valencia for three years and used to haunt this store without seeing one English language book, and that now I live in Galicia. All in español. In my experience, tell a Valencian you live in Galicia and they freak out! They love their paella here, but they ❤️ the food of Galicia. After that, she gave me two books for free.

I carried all these to my Dr appointment. This elicited strange looks in the waiting room. Who brings large sacks of hardcover books to an appointment with their cardiologist? Afterward, I had squeezed in a dental cleaning at my wonderful dentist, Sofia. The best dentist I have ever had. Anywhere. When I arrived the entire waiting room was filled with nuns in black habits. Like Sound of Music nuns. I was the only civilian, so to speak. There is a convent across the street that was built before Cristofer Columbus set sail. These nuns were from there. I texted Jeff.

He laughed. ‘Of course the waiting room is filled with nums. We used to see them all the time.’

Where we live now we don’t see nuns. I wanted to take a photo but it would be disrespectful. In that moment I sort of missed seeing them out and about.

I lugged my books back to the hotel and called Jeff from the taxi. It seems I have to come back here in two weeks for a little procedure. Jeff tried to cheer me up about it.

‘Think of it this way. I’ll be with you next time. And I can carry a lot of books.’

There’s always an upside.

9 thoughts on “No Rest For The Wicked

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s