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All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 1: Laramie to Denver to Philly to Madrid

No good piece of travel writing begins in the airport. That's a rule. It's a bit of a relief, really. Now I can relax and not worry about trying to be any good.

It's pretty early in the morning, but it has already been a long day. I swore to myself that I wasn't going to  buy any over-priced airport food, but as soon as I walked into terminal B, I sat right down at "Pour La France Cafe & Bistro" and ordered their version of an "omelette parmientier" [sic]. I just looked it up online, and what I had bears little resemblance--there were artichoke hearts and mushrooms on mine.

I was up at 3:05 this morning. It turned out to be not quite enough time to eat breakfast. The shuttle was waiting for me when I went downstairs, though he said he'd just gotten there. Here are my notes from the shuttle:
There are three women (myself included) in this cargo van hurtling away from Laramie toward Ft. Collins. One of us keeps coughing and sniffling in this wet, ominous way that makes me want to hold my breath. One of us also talks to a family member on the phone, assuring him or her, in Farsi or Hindi. Her voice sounds like zen bells, the vowels rounded and melodic. That's a terrible mixing of cultures, but it's all I've got at 4 am.
Then we got to Ft. Collins and our little van emptied into the slightly larger bus headed to Denver airport.  I said I wasn't going to sleep--I need to wait until the flight out of Philly to do that--but it was hard not to in the back row. The bus was dark, I could only see the heads of all the women in front of me. (Out of nearly 20 of us, only two were men--Do men think they need to drive themselves to the airport?) The air smelled like skin still-warm from sleep, some mix of popcorn, dryer sheets and deodorants. Every now and then, a woman in the front would shift, and her violet lotion would drift through the still air. No one made a sound, some of us dozed--but you couldn't say sleep because there was no sound of deep breathing, even.

There was a woman asleep on the shoulder of another woman. The silhouette against the window of the first's crutches leaning against the giant teddy bear of the second, made it look as though the bear had a ladder and was trying to climb out the window. The driver had the heat on, and I hadn't been so warm in over a week. I'll admit that I kept dozing off.  

My rugged, over-stuffed backpack draws looks. It looks like what it is: people smile gently at me like they think I'll be backpacking through Germany or Banff later today.  Close, I want to say

España. I'm worried about making the most of my trip. I don't know how I'll judge my productivity. Once I meet the rest of the group in Madrid Aeropuerto, it will be easy--but that's a full week away. Much of this last semester, I have worried that I was squandering my time, not making the most of my "time to write."

But now, I am excited to see the Sagrada Familia and walk through the Madrid Zoo. I know a lot of folks hate zoos, and I understand why, but I love them--and I can't wait to see one in another country. I will be meeting with a botanist in Madrid tomorrow afternoon, and one in Barcelona on the 27th. Still trying to track down an ornithologist, can I say I haven't heard a peep? I'm about to send one more hopeful email to the Institut Català d'Ornitologia. Fingers crossed.

This time tomorrow, though it won't really be 24 hours from now, I'll be landing in Madrid. How amazing is that?

1 comment:

Lyndsey said...

Ah, you are back! This was delicious. More please.