I was 16 years old when I first left for Europe. Three other students and I spent two years taking Spanish classes and selling lollipops at the home basketball games in order to make this trip possible. At sixteen, I barely had the opportunity to even leave Kotzebue so I was wide-eyed the entire trip. On one of the bus tours we took, the tour guide announced that when we turn the corner, we will see the famous golden arches. What he really meant was the french-fry M logo for McDonald’s. Most of the kids laughed but my jaw dropped and I looked at my teacher saying “Oh. My. God!” At the time, I had no idea McDonald’s was world wide.
(Madrid bull fights)
We had first flown to Germany before going to Spain to spend two weeks touring the cities. Unfortunately, somewhere over the Atlantic ocean on a 10-hour Lufthansa flight, my camera lens decided to break and all of my photos are from everyone else. Being sixteen and completely over-stimulated, I can’t tell you a lot about our tours from Madrid, to Cordoba, to Seville and Granada. But there are little things I took away with me.
In Madrid, we spent our nights having chocolate churros or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream while sitting on the weird ground of the Plaza Mayor. In Valencia, I tried not to cry when I finally heard my dad’s voice on a pay phone at the hotel for a couple minutes because I knew in a few minutes we’d on the coast of the Mediterranean. In Seville we had to be escorted by cops back home because a guy threatened to be waiting outside after we reported him stealing a shirt. But most of all, after spending the majority of the trip staying in one room with these three girls, I learned to never judge a book by it’s cover because the pages go much deeper than you think.
(The Alhambra Palaces)
(The Windmills of Cordoba)
By the end of the trip, we were sick of croissants and baby servings of cereal, taking pictures in front of everything we saw, and riding a huge tour bus around the narrow roads. We missed our chinese take out foods and our daily doses of MySpace.
We even made our way to Africa! We took a ferry to Cueta then traveled by bus to Tangier, Morocco. My most vivid memories of the trip happened here because of how shocked I was. I repeatedly played ”New Soul – Yael Naim” on the road and it will forever bring me back. I remember watching hundreds of African women carry something that looked like boulders on their back across the boarder. We walked through a walled-in city where guys were hitting on us left and right, someone grabbed my arm, and I witnessed one too many chickens get their heads cut off. At the end, we were greeted by drummers before entering a restaurant that served cous-cous and belly dancers that played with fire. There was a pharmacy we visited where girls got henna tattoos and I bought green lipstick that applied as a pretty light pink color. Somewhere between all of this I cried and realized just how comfortable my hometown is.
(My first train ride, el Ave.. one of the fastest in the world!)
(We spent the night in the Fairbanks airport on the way home and I decided to make a little club with my new umbrella from Spain)
(I ended up running into my Grandpa Lorry Schuerch at the Era airport when I got off of the plane, he was headed home to Kiana. He asked me where I came from and I replied with “Spain” and we continued to catch up a little while he acted like I gave him a normal response. My dad mentioned I had been flying for two days so I need to get home and he asked me again where I came from and when I said Spain, he said “OOOOH I thought you said PLANE!!! I was wondering why you gave me an obvious answer.”)