Lost Without Pants

Now that I have your attention with my title, I would like to explain before I receive a text from my mother asking why I had no pants on while lost in Valencia.

The truth is: I really didn’t have pants on because I was wearing a dress. Bam! Tricky, tricky, I know.

For about two weeks I have been stressing over school, travel arrangements, my 38 ginormous mosquito bites, and not having something to write about. Well, the big man upstairs (not my noisy neighbor who moves his furniture around everyday…the other man waaaay upstairs) must have heard my silent plea because last night happened.

On Wednesday nights I go to a bar called, Portland where there is an intercambio night. You sit down and mingle with Spanish people and you help each other with English and Spanish. I love it and might be going to it on Tuesday nights as well.

The story begins…well actually it began that morning. Does anyone else accidentally foreshadow their day like me? Maybe it’s the Pisces in me but hot dang I should really start seeing the signs quicker.

Every morning I seem to have a different carrying device. I was switching things over from my backpack to my purse and I put my map of Valencia away and said to myself, “I don’t need this anymore! I know my way around!” Like a Big. Fat. Idiot. This is the point where someone should have smacked me on the forehead like a V8 commercial. But, alas, no one was there to tell me to bring the map.

My roommate and I head to Portland and we have a great time (we’re completely sober, which makes me think how in the heck drunk people get home…). Then we leave and there’s always the spot at the end of the bridge and we cross the street to go home. Well, we’ve been trying to have small adventures and take new routes home. We were soooooo wrong. And by we, I mean me. I chose the road. I take all blame.

Let me explain a few quick things to help you understand what comes next:
– roads are not parallel here. They’re not even close to being parallel.
– streets have about 3 different names here and they can change on a daily basis (fact, not exaggeration)
– bus stop maps (or any public map for that matter) DO NOT show you, “this is where you are now!”
– all maps only show about 1/3 of the street names in Valencia
– some maps have north pointing in the most random direction so you have to look at it upside down with your head tilted to get your bearings correct
– street names are in Valencian…which is not the same as Spanish. So when you do suck up your pride and try to ask for directions no one really understands what you’re saying.

Alright, keep all of these in mind.

We take the unknown-at-that-time very wrong turn. It takes about 30+ minutes to walk from the bar to the house. We walk and walk and the street starts to get a tad sketchy. The people become dirtier looking, more men are present, there are inappropriate drawings on the walls, etc. We keep walking and I look at my watch realizing we should have hit a major road that is close to our house.

After about 25 minutes of walking, I stop at a bus stop map only to find out it’s completely useless (refer to list above).

Let me explain something else. I’m a very easy going person (for the most part) but there are a few things I can’t handle just like everyone else. For example, with my sister Stephanie, you never want to be in the same car as her when there’s a) traffic, horrible drivers, slow drivers, etc or b) you’re lost.

I always thought that I would be ok with getting lost. I was wrong. I’m fine with getting lost if I have a map that actually tells me things and I can figure it out eventually. Walking around Valencia at 11pm with no map, no GPS, no cell phone, no compass, no sundial, or etc to tell me where I’m going is one of the worst things in this world. I started to get angry.

From our house to the ocean is about 20-25 minutes of walking. The ocean to Portland is about 1 hour+. We ended up very close to the ocean…practically on the beach.

I find a map at a bike station but north was pointed southwest…is that a joke? A sick joke. So I tilted my head and turned myself around to only have no clue where I was and to have no street names on the map.

We finally stop at a bus stop and I caved…we asked for directions. The lady told us we could hop on a bus to get home. That’s fine and dandy but which direction do we catch the bus? She didn’t know. Great.

Then I really broke down. I stuck my arm out and caught us a freaking taxi.

Remember my list?

We get in the taxi and we tell him our street name. Well we can’t say it right because it’s Valencian. Finally, he understands us but we called it Calle Tarrongers and it’s Albalat Tarrongers. So then we tell him just to take us to the university by that street because it’s only a block away from the house. Then he continues to tell us that there are many parts of the university…yadda yadda yadda.

After many explanations in Spanish as to where in the heck we live, we made it home on a €6 cab ride.

This is what I’ve learned:
– don’t try to find new ways home at 11pm. Wait until the sun is shining bright.
– swallow your pride and carry your dang map
– carry your phone so you at least have your compass (you’d be surprised how many times my electronic compass has gotten me home)
– my mom will like this one…when your gut says, “umm excuse me, I think you’re going in the wrong direction…” Don’t continue to walk even if someone you’re with thinks it’s the right thing to do.

I will keep my thoughts even more silent next week while trying to figure out what to write about…