Before starting my program of Teaching English abroad, one thing my program manager always said was: “When it comes to travel, nothing ever goes quite as planned.”
Obviously, I knew there was some validity behind this statement, but when you’re so mesmorized by the country you’re traveling to and completely wonderstruck by the idea of living in it, you become blind to all the possible catastrophes that can happen. People say, “be cautious and careful,” and “be smart,” among the millions of other things that are noted as indirect worthy warnings of advice. But they very often go right over our heads.
Like so many travellers, I started off my trip nonchalant, without a care in the world. I think this is a way for travellers to trust the process and avoid paranoia. Although I try to be cautious, I also try to trust that there are good people in this world – people that are not out to get you, but instead, are eager to help and guide you. If I constantly think about all the bad things that could happen, I wouldn’t be able to travel alone. Plus, I was going to Spain for goodness sake! What worries should I have? What will I eat first? How quick will I learn to use the Metro? Where should my first adventure be? Where can I find the best paella, and churros and chocolate?
Stop being so naive, Sabrina…that’s lesson number one.
I’m going to keep the long story as short as possible, so here we go:
I left my house in the morning thinking it was going to be an easy drive to Toronto, quick flight to Phillidelphia, and finally a slightly longer flight to Madrid. Everything was going to run smoothly. Well, we left extra early and started off on our four hour drive to Toronto, but we still managed to get stuck in traffic which held us back about an hour and a half. When we finally got to the airport, we accidentally took a wrong turn to the wrong terminal. My mom had parked the car, so when she came to meet us, it would’ve been impossible to run back to the car, make it the correct terminal, go through check-in and customs, etc…so we did what anyone would do. We ran like headless chickens!
I’m kidding, but we did run out thinking we’d catch a taxi. Despite our luck thus far, a super awesome Jamaican dude driving a shuttle bus saw our desparity and rushed us to the correct terminal. The lady at the check in desk managed to make some calls and allowed me through to customs and security. I was forced to give my parents the fastest goodbye kisses, and booked it. I cut in line a few times and sprinted to my gate. With only minutes to spare, I somehow made it. Regardless, next thing I know, my flight to Phillidelphia was delayed due to weather reasons. Maybe that was a sign that I was going to be safe afterall. Hahaha, not quite.
Fast forward to Phillidelphia. Because it was delayed, I had to book it to my next flight to Madrid (unless I was sitting ona plane, I never stopped running). Unfortunately, I missed it. But then as it turned out, my name wasn’t even on the roster of missing people! Basically, my name was removed from the flight and floated up into the clouds. An attendant had to put me on the next flight to London. And then from there I would fly to Madrid.
I’m going to pause here because this is the part of the story where I get to share a short happy moment I had: buying myself a proper meal. Let me tell you, it was expensive, but it was glorious. I made myself a big a$$ salad that was stacked with spring mix, spinach, onions, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, peppers, eggs, chicken, avocado, and butternut squash. (If you read my previous posts about my Whole 30 Menu Favorites , you’ll know this is my kind of euphoria.)
Moving on, I got on the plane to London where I had two seats to myself…another happy, winning moment!
But when I landed in London, I was back to running. I received an express pass to help me get through quicker, but no one paid any mind to it. It wasn’t until another man saw that, I too, was struggling to catch time, so he made me tag along side him as we rushed our way through security. If it weren’t for him, I surely would have missed, yet another, flight.
Eventually, I was on my last flight to my final destination: Madrid!!! I thought my troubles were over. I landed in Madrid just fine, but then…I went to collect my baggage. Haha, the airport wasn’t done with me just yet!! I was extremely frustrated, exhausted, and hungry…probably the worst combination of things to be. I went to the service desk, and was told “I can’t help you.” So, as a result, I did what any vulnerable, exhausted, and hungry girl would do…I cried and called my Mom. She assured me everything was going to be okay, and that she would make some phone calls to find my bags. I calmed down, but I was embarrassed to meet with my host Mom. Nevertheless, I obviously couldn’t avoid her, but she was totally understanding, nonjudgmental, and only wanted to help. So she talked to the service desk who, all of a sudden, made some clicks and phones calls, and sent us on our way. Just as we were leaving the desk, my mom called saying she had found my luggage and it would be on its way to Madrid the next morning. Bless her. ❤
We still had to make some confusing phone calls after that, but what matters is that I finally got my baggage, and the disastrous commotion was finally over.
Can you see the excitement on my face? I have never reunited with something that made me this happy. But now I can officially start my adventures in Spain!!
I think through all the craziness, it was a lesson well learned and a good situation to experience. It was kind of like a wake up call that told me I’m not bulletproof to all the shots that can be fired. And just because I’m going to a country that is painted to be flawlessly glamorous on the outside, doesn’t mean mistakes and accidents can’t happen.
Yeah, I get it…this is like a “should’ve had a V-8” moment. And some of you are thinking, “okay come on Sabrina, obviously anything can happen,” but think about it: when you go to the store, are you constantly thinking, “Is someone going to hit my car today?” or “Will I leave my purse in the cart?” Mmm, I hope not. So, of course, when it finally happens it’s a slap in the face, but it’s also a reminder that yeah…shit happens, but it will always be okay in the end.
You and I are exactly where we are supposed to be, and everything happens exactly the way it’s supposed to happen.
I’m settling down and am beginning to create a routine. My host family is awesome and the two twin boys I’m teaching English to are adorable…
But more on that later. As of right now, I need to catch up on some of this jet lag. Buenos Noches! (Or Buenos Dias if the sun is up on your side of the world! :))