It’s honestly just a bit weird being back in a culture again where I don’t know the local language and can’t easily get around. Every time I take my change from someone at the restaurant, I have this awful tendency to say “Chokran” instead of “Gracias.” I really hope I don’t do that in America every time I see someone with brown skin. Like, seriously. I’m so worried about that; it’s not even funny. I think when you learn another language, your ears are tuned into it, and you can hear it a mile away. But I think your ears are tuned into it because you want to hear it. You’re hoping for it, in a way.
Yesterday, eating at a nice little Italian joint on the Via Laeitana, I immediately heard Arabic from one of the waiters and turned and started up a conversation. Finally, someone I could relate to! I’m not home yet, but having little encounters like that in Barcelona made me thankful once again that I had this connection to Morocco that I’ll always hold dear. It was a nice little exchange, you know, “How was your big holiday? Were you in Morocco or Spain? When are you going back? Where are you from in Morocco? Oh, yes, I love that part of the country.”
I find myself wishing that I could’ve spent more time in Barcelona. It really is an absolutely stunning city. After “stamping out” (i.e. placing the official Peace Corps stamp into a large booklet to show that my service had ended), I flew from Tangier to Madrid and then bused to Barcelona. The bus was a rather lengthy trip (seven hours), but I’ve definitely decided that Barcelona is a city worth seeing again. On the mountain to the southwest of the city, you have a really nice view of the port, and there are escalators leading up and down the sloping hills. The city itself is incredibly wealthy; the streets are clean and there are trees planted everywhere. Compared to poverty in the desert, this is… different… to say the least.
Today, I’m embarking on my journey back to America by boat. I’ll be boarding at 4:00 p.m. Here’s to hoping there aren’t any hurricanes or crazy storms on the water!