(Written on 13 March 2012)

I woke up early and finished packing my bags.  When I was satisfied that I had not forgotten anything I grabbed them and went down to the common room at the hostel.  One of the girls I had met the night before was there having breakfast so I joined her.  We made light traveler small talk as we ate some fruit and pastries.  Then it was time to get to the train station  for a ride to Montforte de Lemos.

I grabbed a newspaper for the train and took one last pass by the Cathedral de Santiago.  I passed workers hustling to their jobs and a man chugging a liter of beer on the sidewalk.  After a few minutes of confusion I found the platform from which my train would depart.  As I waited I began reading my paper.  Before long I realized that this paper was not in Spanish.  I shouldn’t have been surprised by this but it was still kind of disappointing that the local language, Gallego, was just different enough from Castillian Spanish that it made many words indecipherable.

The train arrived and after settling in I continued to read.  I got the gist of what was being said but it was growing increasingly frustrating and I wanted to relax on the train.  My solution was to read the personal ads.  The language was basic and the thirty word ads were entertaining, if not a little sad at times.  Eventually, I found my eyes drifting off of the pages and out the window.  The frosted fields were surrounded by shallow mountains and scattered with cottages.  As the sun came up the frost faded.  Soon we were running alongside a river lined with bright yellow mimosas.  An hour later I arrived in the 130 year old station of Montforte.

I stepped out into the street and admired the tasteful design and noiseless streets of the town.  The station praza featured a simple flowing fountain.  I ran my hand through the water on the way past and headed for… well, I don’t know.  I had about four hours until my new host would be here to pick me up and I had never so much as Googled Montforte.  I was getting a bit hungry, though, so I figured that I could wander the town until I found a market.  I walked for about twenty minutes.  Then I saw a sign that said “urbano centro.”  My pace quickened and I knew that I would soon find something interesting, or that it would find me.  I soon passed the Praza de España.  It was larger than the other plazas I had passed and the steps surrounded flowerbeds with yellow and brown flowers and green stems waiting to bloom.  Then I saw a market.  I grabbed an empanadilla and walked back to the praza.

I sat on a cold cement bench and watched a local beggar go to work.  It was very different than what I had seen in larger cities.  He seemed to know most of the people who passed by.  Many even gave him a double cheek kiss.  Some he would argue with and others he would bombard with half-joking insults.  As siesta neared the shops in the plaza slowly closed their doors.  By two I was alone in the plaza.  It seemed so empty and I felt like I had been given this opportunity to do something fun.  I thought about how I could turn an empty plaza into something fun.  Then it hit me.  I reached into my backpack and got out my MP3 player.  I put in my headphones and turned the volume up.  I searched my playlists for the perfect song and as soon as I saw it I knew what I had to do.  I blasted LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” as I danced like a fool around the empty plaza.  I couldn’t help but laugh at myself, even as it was happening.  When the song ended I looked around quickly to see if anyone was watching.  I am glad to report that I was still alone in the plaza, though now my lack of sleep and slight exhaustion had been transformed into maniacal excitement.

I strutted back to the train station, where my ride would be picking me up, with a distinct swagger that Montforte has probably never seen.  I sat down on the edge of the fountain and pulled out my journal.  I thought about writing in it but decided instead to read it from the top.  I relived my days in Dublin and thought about the great new friends I made there.  The bitter cold of Poland sent a shiver up my spine as I thought about what it feels like when the air is 18 degrees below zero.  There were parts that seemed so perfect that they were hard to believe.  But they were real and I felt honored to have been there.   Then Mike showed up and helped me pack my bags into the car.  We drove off to the village of Ferreira de Panton and a new adventure began.

Since then I have been tirelessly working and playing harder than ever.  I have visited nearby villages and distant towns. I have spent afternoons on the patio drinking tea, eating biscuits, and discussing the past while planning the future.  I already have a slew of new adventures to share and will do that as soon as I can type them up.  Until then…