España 22

Here’s where they sold stamps, the Tobacos.

This one is a bit random. I’ve blown it up so you can see the guy. He was the only street vendor I saw who wasn’t black. And I didn’t actually blow the picture up, I just put it at its regular size. All of the others are shrunk.

The lobby at the hotel. You can see how expensively everything is built. And there’s the bar where they’ll charge you way too much for food or drinks.

Here’s the airport in Madrid. Last picture of Spain.

Visa for arriving, and leaving.

Our plane over the states at last, on the in flight entertainment system.

 Lines, lines, and more lines.

Some random notes on other stuff about Spain before I start talking about the day. People there that are my age (college age) dress like we do here. A generation older, people dress nicely, with a button shirt and slacks usually. But we blended in with no problem with our t-shirts and shorts or jeans, and I at least was quite happy that I’d packed comfortably.

Everyone was warning us about pick pocketing in Spain. As far as I know, nothing was stolen from any of the members of our group during our trip. I was, however, really paranoid. I kept a very close watch on my pockets at all times, and developed almost a sixth sense for who was around me and I could feel my phone and my wallet through my shorts with my legs as I was walking. It was interesting.

When they air commercials, they don’t translate their slogans a lot of the time. So there’d be this big commercial for the new Samsung Galaxy S III. Designed for Humans. And they’d say it with a really Spanish accent. It stood out hilariously against the rest of the commercial in Spanish. And that wasn’t the only commercial that did that, it was just the most common one.

So, last day in Spain and returning to the states. It was a bit of a sad day for all of us, but I also think we were all happy to be heading home, in a way. We got up, got on the bus, and went to the airport. After quite a bit of confusion involving almost switching flights to the next day and going to the wrong floor to look for our airplane, we made it through. The flight was actually really nice. There were inflight entertainment systems with games and movies. And the person in front of me didn’t lean back! So I was only very uncomfortable, not in major pain for the entire trip.

Also, the flight attendants will look at you very oddly if you stand up and walk around and around just to get exercise, as is healthy on long flights. I solved this problem by using the bathroom at just the wrong time, and being “stuck” behind the beverage trolley for 15 minutes before they got past my seat.

The movies on the way back were actually good. I watched The Lorax, The Hunger Games, and Los Juegos Del Hambre. (Spanish for… The Hunger Games!) I realized as I was watching it in Spanish that they really don’t talk a lot in the movie. Nevertheless, I was happy with how much of it I understood. Although it probably helped that I had just seen it in English, about an hour before. The flight back seemed to be a much shorter flight, and since I wasn’t expected to sleep, I almost enjoyed it.

When we arrived in Spain, they waved us through and stamped our passports. When we were an hour or two out from the states, they started handing out immigration forms. For everyone, coming home and going to visit the states. We all filled them out, after much head scratching over how to classify and value things. We then got off the plane in Dallas and went to line #1. There, we got the forms signed, and they glanced at our passports. Then, for line #2, we got to wait to pick up our baggage! After that, we got in line #3, where we handed in our immigration forms and walked through. I’m certain that this line, where everyone had their baggage, was at least a mile long. That’s what the videos are. Not exaggerating.

I swear that they didn’t even look at my form for long enough to know that my name matched my passport.

After that, we rechecked our baggage, and I refilled my water bottle. Big mistake. Line #4 was security again, and they don’t let you take liquids through security. So I had to drain a liter of water in about 30 seconds. After security, we finally got to wait for our next plane.

At the security here, they had me remove my shoes and put them in a separate bin, before putting me through a full body scanner. All of the full body scanners have issues with my pockets. I wear cargo shorts, and because the pockets are puffy and have air in them, the body scanners flag them every time, and they pat my pockets down. After they’re sure I just want to get home and not blow something up, they let me through security. In Spain, I kept my shoes and belt on and wandered through a metal detector and picked up my stuff, all nice and cool.

Interesting note: None of the detectors seemed to have any issue with the metal plates in my head. But that’s a story for another day or three.

The final game, Spain-Italy, happened while we were on the plane. The captain told us shortly before we landed that the score was 2-0 for Spain with about 15 minutes left and they were almost definitely winning this one. Imagine our surprise when we landed and the final score was 4-0. Spain really won that game. Half of the people on the flight were from Spain, so they went ballistic at the news. We were quite happy too. I, as well as some of my classmates, wore our Spain shirts for the flight home.

After a second flight from Dallas to Austin, we were finally home. I went out to dinner (at Cheddars!) just to stay awake, before coming home and crashing as early as I could. I was so happy to have a server who would talk to us, introduce himself, and check on us and refill our beverages occasionally. It was quite refreshing. In Spain, most of the servers take your order, and then you see them when they bring you food. I had one server who said two things to me the entire meal. Dígame and dígame. Literally, tell me. Like I said, it was really refreshing to have a server who was nice and polite.

It took several days before I was back on CST, and I was very glad that I had a week off between coming home and starting this government class that I’m suffering through right now. I feel very sorry for the people who had to go to work the next day.

So, that’s my trip to Spain with ACC, summer of 2012. I don’t know when I’ll go back, but I really want to.

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