I normally hate getting lost. It usually always happens as I am trying to make an appointment or already running late somewhere. It’s always frustrating and annoying. I remember driving around Atlanta (a city I know better as a pedestrian) leaning and squinting over the steering wheel of my burgandy 90s-something Honda Accord with the feeling of anxiety pumping into my chest.

And I have felt that way here, too. Getting to know the city, you misjudge just how much time it really takes to get from point A to point D. But I don’t feel that way all the time. Yeah, I’ve had places to be. And yeah, I’ve gotten a little disoriented and turned around, even with my map. And yes, I’ve most definitely arrived late a bunch of times. While a few of these moments did arouse the familiar frustrations of not being able to find my place on a highlighted path, I always ended up finding my destination, my companions, and my cool. Maybe it’s because in Spain, it’s normal to arrive a little late in lots of (but not all) circumstances.  But more likely it’s because I have a lot more free time here. On my time off, I purposely derail from “what I know” to “what’s down here.” My three fondest tales of these adventures happened with companions.

A few weekends ago, Leah and I headed to one of our favorite spots, Llao Llao. For those in Decatur, it’s like Yogurt Tap. For those in the West, I’ve been told it’s comparable to Pink Berry. It’s basically a frozen yogurt joint where you can add different toppings, from nuts and fruit to syrup and coconut shavings. From there, we made a brief tour of the Sol/Callao area, hitting up H&M and browsing through the crowds. We took the metro to La Latina and stepped away from what we knew. We discovered beautiful art work on the side of a building, a plaza centered around a tall fountain, vegetarian and mexican restuarants, and some of Spain’s most personal and vibrant streets. By simply allowing ourselves to be drawn into the scenes that most captured us, we made our way back to familiar stomping grounds, particularly Palacio Real. It’s crazy how you can be “lost” and then end up right where you need to be. We could’ve ended up there the old familiar way, but the sights, sounds, and rhythms we experienced on our journey would’ve been lost to our senses and memories. Ignorance may be bliss, but the knowledge and experience that can replace that ignorance is irreplaceable…Anyways, we headed to Plaza de Espana from there, checked out the outdoor market, and enjoyed some Chinese dumplings on the bench against the humming of people enjoying a warm Saturday afternoon-evening.

I got lost (this time not on purpose at all) with Jaselyn in La Latina again. I thought I knew my way after that one visit with Leah to lead us to a yummy Mexican restaurant. We managed to find one that was way too expensive and another that was closed. So we just tried to find a decent eatery. We decided on a place with typical Spanish cuisine (the gazpacho, patatas bravas, tortilla espanola, etc). My food wasn’t anything spectacular, but the place had an original vibe which we digged which is why we selected the place.

The next time I was got with Janel. We went to Puente de Vallecas. After I wasn’t able to get my ripe plantains the first time I went there, I wanted to head back, and I invited Janel along as she is a foodie. After hitting up the market, we wandered around the area: the best decision we could have ever made. We found Dominican colmados that mimicked the feel of the Dominican Republic so well that it fooled my senses out of their Spanish reality and mocked my rationale for trying to convince them differently. Once we left there and continued throughout the area, we found a Spain dressed in the demeanor specific to the southern region of the Americas. Janel and I most readily identified the familiar warmth of the community to Mexico, where we had both been and had both fell in love with the distinct intoxicating and inviting world that sits below the home country. But the community through which we walked was a mosaic of South America. We didn’t visit many of the other small grocery stores, but one we did go into was run by a Bolivian. He offered us a sweet, glazed coconut treat and devulged recipes to us as he showed us items around the store. It’s always great meeting friendly people in small, intimate settings like that. Walking through the colorful moods across the faces of the buildings and cannibus scented parks where groups of old mature gentlemen gathered in the cardigans to play chess, complimenting the innocence running, skipping, and gliding through the adjacent playground, we watched the sun set down for the night sky, and found our way back to our new definitions of home.

I suppose it’s more exploration than getting lost. I’m never really looking for anything in particular, just really opened to letting the world roll under my feet, just really opened to enjoying the journey without a destination.

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