In Girona I interviewed a cyclist for a sports magazine. This was the ostensible reason for the trip and how I got my tickets paid for. I stayed in a small apartment on the old side of town. When I say old I mean Spanish Old, 11th century old. Twenty-five seizes, and eleven captures old, conquered by the Moors in 715 and Charlemagne in 785 old.
The walls of my apartment were stone on all sides which, as an American, I thought was an overcommitment to the quaint old-timey bit until it dawned on me that this building was actually old enough to have stone walls. My street was so small you couldn’t drive down it. You could only walk. It was on the other side of the river that separated the old city from the new and most of the bridges across were effectively footpaths some of which dated back to the middle ages.
This detail about the walking caused a lot of confusion when I tried to explain to a cab driver at the train station in a halting combination of Spanish and Catalan that I wanted a ride there, but I understood that I’d have to walk the last bit. He seemed to think I was asking for walking directions. He gave them to me quickly and with a lot of whistling and general gestures of encouragement. I thought he was directing me to another taxi that would be able to take me all the way, maybe a pedicab, but after 10 minutes of walking with my bags I realized what had happened. It was only about fifteen more walking minutes to get there by foot and I decided to just do that despite my bag being heavy, some significant sweating unfolding, and a recurring left ankle/foot issue that has flared up on this trip. I went because it felt better to go than to not go.
Following a phone map that provided some general encouragement in certain directions rather than specific directions, I found myself walking down what felt like the main boulevard of this mid-sized city. Past convenience store, and banks, past office buildings of cold glass and grey brick. The sidewalk felt narrow and everyone seemed to be driving too fast. I felt alone, and uncomfortable in ways that I couldn’t quite explain. It was like I was too large, with my body, my bag, my sweat. I had been traveling for about five days and home was starting to get far enough in the rearview that I was having that strange feeling of alienation. What am I even doing? What is this place? What was home? Who am I?