So, they tell me yesterday was Friday. I don’t know where all these Fridays keep coming from. Around here, everyday feels pretty much the same, so it’s hard to tell the difference. Anyways, that’s another French Friday no-show, so you get the second installment of Saturday in Spain.
Spanish was the first foreign language I learned. I started in 8th grade and continued on into college, even though by that point, my French had largely eclipsed it. But the Spanish is still in my brain, hiding. And there are a few weird cases where a certain word in Spanish has always been stronger than the equivalent in French. Lápiz versus crayon, for example. When we planned our trip to Valencia, Spain six years ago, I was a little nervous, but hoping that Mr. Gren was right — that it would all come back to me when I needed it. I booked our flights and hotel and came up with a loose itinerary.
One fun thing about Valencia is that it is very Castilian and they speak with that classic lisping accent. I was all prepared to lisp my S’s. I was not prepared, however, to lisp every single consonant. My first experience with it was when we got off the plane and were waiting out on the curb in front of the airport, trying to figure out which bus we needed. I asked a man about the bus schedule and my ears strained hard to decipher words through all that lisping, but it was enough to get me locked in on the Spanish of the area. After that, it was fun. The airport we landed at was quite a ways away from the city center and I remembered from looking online that there was a bus we could take to a more central terminal which would put us within walking distance of our hotel. After figuring out the buses with the man on the sidewalk, Mr. Gren, baby Rana and I boarded the one that would take us into the city. It was a strange bus ride. It wound up and down every block through the outskirts of town, stopping every two minutes it seemed. We saw parts of Valencia that tourists definitely never see. We were on that bus for over an hour, trying to keep our luggage out of people’s way and trying to keep the baby happy.
Finally, we pulled into a big, bustling hub. We got off the bus and walked out to the sidewalk and I started getting a funny feeling. Looking back at the bus station, we saw that it was a hub for long-distance coach buses. This was not where we were supposed to be. But clearly, none of those buses were going to take us any further into town, so we set out walking, hoping to find another bus stop. Around the block we did find one and it happened to have a large map of Valencia posted on the back of the shelter. From where we were standing, we could see the large, dry riverbed that runs right through the city and we could identify it on the map. But we couldn’t find a street sign to narrow down our location. Luckily, right about that time, a police officer happened to be walking by. Using my new Castilian Spanish, I asked, “Perdoneme, señor… donde estamos??” He laughed and was very friendly and helped us find our location on the map. He asked where we needed to go and told us where we could catch a bus that would get us to our hotel. I like that police man. We had to walk a little further dragging our luggage and pushing a baby stroller, but we made it to the right bus and got into the beautiful center of Valencia without any more trouble. And my Spanish was rolling back in, just like Mr. Gren said it would.