April 8, 2007

4/07/07 Almansa Spain

Well, I finally began this next adventure. I just hope my trip out here isn´t a sample of the whole trip to come. Let me explain.

My good friend Lama Chuck offered to take me to the airport. I'm going to miss him and everyone at the Rime Buddhist Center while I'm away. I told him to drop me off at the American Airlines terminal and we said our goodbyes. But when I got inside, they looked at my ticket and said "You´re flying US Airways." Which naturally is in another terminal. Good thing I was early.

Well, made it in time for my plane and had an uneventful flight to Philadelphia. Did you know that the Philadelphia airport terminal has rocking chairs spread all over the waiting areas. I saw what seemed like hundreds here and there. What a great idea. Good thing for me too because I had a 6 hour layover here.

We had a full flight to Madrid and for some reason we sat on the ground for almost 30 minutes before we took off. The sound system for the inflight movie was on the fritz, full of static, so it´s a good thing I had my iPod to listen to. Tried to sleep, but even though my eyes were closed, I was awake.

Got to Madrid about 30 minutes late. Too bad for me. Went through customs fairly quickly. And I even negotiated using two subway lines to get to the bus station across town. But I got to the ticket counter a couple of minutes too late to catch the 10AM bus to Almansa. So, ended up sitting there for another 4 hours waiting for the next bus.

Cloudy most of the way. It would rain a bit, then the sun would come out for a bit, then more rain. It´s pretty cool too, in the 50s. Passed several towns with new solar power arrays (one looked like it was still under construction) and there were a lot of wind farms as we got closer to Almansa. I didn´t want to sleep because I was afraid of missing my stop.

Lucky for me, Santi was waiting for me at the bus stop, literally a bus stop. Santi and Amparo run Aula sin Fronteras, a Spanish language school here in Almansa. I was a student of Amparo´s on my first trip to Spain in 2002. They built this new school and hostel a few years ago here to be near her family.

Santi and I caught up on things while waiting for Amparo to come home with the children. I was amazed at how big the children were. Miranda is 7 almost 8, and German is 3. They were a bit shy at first, but soon they wanted to show me every toy they had and how they all worked. Miranda loved the stuffed bunny rabbit I brought for her and the teddy bear for German. For mom and dad, I brought a bottle of Gates BBQ Sauce.

Santi says the hostel is doing so well, they are rethinking their plans. Originally the school was built so there were places for the students to stay, and then they would rent out the other rooms as a hostel. But business is so good with the hostel, they are thinking of expanding, buying some new space next door for new rooms, and just having the hostel full-time. That´s for the future to think about.

Finally, got settled into my room and unpacked, almost 35 hours after I got up yesterday morning, most of it sitting. A bed never felt so good. I think I just might sleep all day Sunday just to catch up.

Here´s hoping everyone has a wonderful Easter. And I´ll write more later...