Sand on the beach, not in the house

Hello everyone. Steve here. Due to unfortunate technical difficulties, I am writing to you from the account of the magnificent Leighton Moylan, who so graciously allowed me to use his capabilities. So here we go.

Sand on the beach. Not in the house.

Hello to all those people who have so eagerly arrived to this blogpost. Sit down and strap yourself in, this one’s gonna be good. Upon reading this, the group and I will have had three days left and that statement, to me, is like an ogre( because ogres have layers! and that they are ). Terrifying to believe my extravagant time in san seb is coming to a close, but it is also making me reflect other thoughts dwelling at the bottom of my subconscience. Now before I dig deeper into that ( very small) iceberg, I would like to address adoring fans and paparazzi about my wonderful Monday in Donostia. Granted waking up Monday morning I had a case of the Mondays that I was having a lot of trouble shaking. My grammar teacher, Laura, whom I adored  (can’t say the feeling was mutual ) had switched to a new class. Now my friend Leighton still howled his usual howl of a laugh and I still ate a delicious nectarine that my host abuela (maritxa, i.e new found love of my life) had hurled towards my head with a smile as she does every morning, but things just felt different without Laura. But alas good things come to an end and I must continue with my day. Now myself and the Basque Street Boys( myself, Arick Forsyth, and Lighton Moylan) along with our friend Catherine went into a bar to get pintxo de chorizo and a caña grifa con limón. It was a delight in both taste and company.

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A lot of the bars here have old wooden bar tops, wooden chairs, and a somewhat rustic theme, but in addition they all seem to have vh1 from America playing music videos from 2005. Not even kidding, I have my lunch to the tune of “Gold Digger” and “1,2 Step” on a few separate occasions. So after that I returned home, maritxa had been watching the Spanish equivalent of Survivor (fun fact: on their “Survivor” the people are in the wilderness for 80 days; talk about hardcore) and after she had explained the intricacies to why sand in the house is the equivalent to a stray dog sneaking into your house and sleeping on the floor. (Yup, that’s honestly how she explained it). So after that wonderful lesson I sat down for a nice long siesta before I would meet my friends at the beach. During my siesta I relaxed in my room and I honestly thought about the trip and what I’ve done and I thought a lot about home. Life is drastically different here. There are wonderful views, excellent weather, and a city that flows like a leaf in the wind. Never meeting resistance but finding a way around and through complications. San Sebastian quite frankly is paradise. Though that is why I cannot stay (I’ll explain at the end).

After my siesta I suited up and curtailed my way over to Ziriolla, the surfing beach. My friends and I took to the water and there must have been a swell because the waves were hitting at least 8 feet tall. This set the stage for the greatest beach trip of the 3 weeks. All of us in the water, body surfing ,waves crashing ,high fives clashing, and outrageous fun. Afterwards all of us went to our separate dinners.( I had torilla).

At around 10:00 we all left our houses and headed to La Concha for the second part of the beach. We had a large portion of the group with us and along with a midnight swim we all sat on the sand and talked and laughed (I laughed for a collective 45 minutes at least) and related and came together the way friends who’ve known each other for 25 years come together. That doesn’t just happen. This experience has giving me not only an immense amount of perspective on views on the other side of the globe, but also a new group of people who I have come rapidly attached to in a way I didn’t think possible.

The final part of the night was when we had “found” some champagne and shared it on the beach. Toasting to an amazing trip, I stepped back and thought once again that I can’t stay here. San Sebastian is not a place but an experience. An experience that will grab hold of you and change you forever. This trip has taught me about so much, but it has also taught me how amazing it is to travel. I had never traveled before this and I don’t want to live here. I feel that being here longer would only dilute the sensation of awe in my eyes . But I want to return. Over and over and over again each time trying more, seeing more, and doing more. Unfortunately, the next time I return I won’t have my trusty crew, which is unfortunate, yet once again allows me to create new bonds and friends like the ones I have made. (raise your hand if you want a corny ending…. too bad!) Donostia is famous for its boats and fishing. And in the Bay of Biscay there are hundreds of ships, but I think the greatest and most impressive ships were the friendships being made in the sand on the shore that night. So I say Salud to Donostia and to Massachusetts, be home soon.

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Why I Hate Everything About This Trip

I’m pretty sure it goes without saying that going abroad is a unique experience for those of us who are used to our American culture. Therefore, I won’t say anything along those lines. After all, what’s the point of doing anything new if all you take from it is your own preconceived notions and ideas? So forgive me if I take a bit of a different tack here, because I actually do hate everything about this trip so far.

Before we get into that, let me tell you what I did yesterday. I had the opportunity to write about any number of school trips and events, such as a Basque cooking class, a trip to Bilbao, or a wine tasting. Instead, I’m writing about a free day that had no planned activities. This, in my humble opinion, lets all of you see exactly how an expatriate lives and feels in San Sebastian, Spain. So disclaimer: if you’re expecting a deep dissertation on an educational class trip, you might want to look elsewhere.

Let’s start with the first thing of the day, and generally my favorite part of most 24-hour periods: breakfast. Or as they apparently call it in Spain, bread. Arick and I have had bread every single morning since our arrival, since some Basque people think it’s heresy to have even eggs for breakfast. Maybe that speaks more to the hedonistic and over-the-top attitude of America, but I digress. Next up, school. Lacunza school is a pretty doggone good place to be if you want to learn Spanish. They focus on conversational and everyday Spanish, which helped my painfully American self learn how to survive in this foreign land. That, coupled with its proximity to a shop with wicked good cafe con leche and cafe con chocolate, would lead me to write it a glowing Yelp review if such a thing were possible.

What I’ve just described is a typical morning for a student abroad. Wake up, eat a fat breakfast of pan, then head out and attempt to hone your survival skills and look less like a complete moron. The rest of the day? Filled with exploration and activities all around the city and its surrounding areas. We’ve been all over this section of Basque country, learning about its history and its culture, all of which is fascinating. From climbing Jesus Mountain, to going to a Spanish blues festival, to paddlesurfing in the blue ocean, to sharing a drink with a bunch of Spanish youths on the massive stairway outside my house, there is very rarely a dull moment.

Which is exactly what makes the dull moment important for me. I’m writing right now about a night on the beach. No activities, no bar hopping, no escapades, even though a lot of my time here has been filled with such things. Last night I just spent some time on the beach, hanging out with some friends and doing absolutely nothing special. I looked around at the lights lighting up the mountains off the coast. I heard a couple laugh as they walked down the boulevard. I saw a man walk down the waterline with his dog. I heard vague hints of music from the carousel. And I just knew that I hated everything about it.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s so, take a look at a few thousand words, and I’ll tell you why I despise them.

20150629_162410 20150709_112042These are all things I got to see. These landscapes and beautiful sights amazed and awed me. I got to see with my own eyes things most people only see in books or in a Google search bar. And I hated it. I hated it because I knew that I would never again feel this way. That moment on the beach, with the breeze blowing off the bay and the glowing vibe of San Sebastian all around me, is something I can never feel again in exactly that way. The absolute awesome and unreal feeling that struck me this first time on foreign shores won’t come back the same. This is my first time abroad and the experience is completely amazing and awe-inspiring. I have not spent a single moment of this trip not utterly grateful for the unbelievable experience of every moment here, and I know that this sense of wonder won’t ever be the same. I hate this trip for its fantastic and unbelievable experiences, which have touched my heart in a way nothing else ever will.

20150706_161509Yet there’s something to be said for all this. As much as I hate what this trip has done to me and to all my future experiences, it’s also sparked something. I’ve discovered a new love for the world and all it has to offer. My life is one of passions; as a kid who first picked up a guitar three years ago because he was tired of merely air guitaring to Stevie Ray Vaughan, received no training all through high school and learned to play purely through emotion, and is now a music student not because of skill, training, or marketability but instead pure love for the subject, I’ve based a lot of my adult life purely on passion. This trip has awakened a new intense love for the world and exploring it. I know I may never experience anything like this trip ever again, but I have a hunger for it. I may never get another moment like I had on the beach, but there are more beaches and more moments out there to be had, and I am determined to find them.