It took me all of Portugal to get used to being abroad. I couldn't wait to leave Portugal. I was jet lagged. Daily, I was teasingly harassed by a young, attractive yet intimidating and smiling (quite a combination) Portuguese panhandler in the touristy area. One day he grabbed me. I spun away from him, but he got me again. I was unnerved.
By day I slept. Deep and drugged feeling. Jared jostled me in the bed. I swatted him away. At night, I was awake and eaten by mosquitoes that flew in the window of the hostel. I was ready to leave.
A week later, we took the bus out of Lisbon and winded through the rural, dusty country. We were the only Americans traveling. The air was heavy with September 11. We had flown out of Newark on October 11, 2001.
The bus' radio was tuned to news radio. I could make out only the words "New York" and "anthrax". I was ready to get off the bus.
We arrived in Sevilla, Spain. From the train station pay phone, I dialed hostel after hostel. We had arrived on the weekend and most were full. We found one place and booked a night. The room was entirely brown - curtains, walls, bedding - and smelled like dead fat.
We wandered the city. The doors of restaurants were open to the streets. We chose a friendly, brightly lit one. We ate delicious pork chops dressed with olive oil. At a neighboring table, a beautiful woman sang while handsome, dark, wrinkled men played guitar and sang along. Spanish songs. Heaven. I would go back to Spain again.