The completely unfiltered diary of a 24-year-old (weeks 74–76)

24 min readJan 26, 2022

We left the apartment and the leather shop was open again. You actually smell the leather before you even open the door out.

Turns out shoe repair guy from the first day here is friends with leather shop guy (they’re neighbors, so guess it makes sense). And shoe repair guy gave us an extremely enthusiastic “Hola!” and a wave. It was so cute. Totally made my day.

Repairmen are currently my favorite type of Spanish men. LOL.

The guy came to repair the washing machine today, and he was super nice too. And he must really be busy, or things just move slower in Spain, because he said he’d come back again in 7 days to replace the faulty component. He managed to do a quick fix for now though, so the machine does work. I was super excited to practice my extremely broken Spanish. It was great. He even asked us stuff, like did we come to Spain to learn Spanish (no), and he asked Cher if she could speak Spanish (again, no. I guess we were pretty disappointing.) And as he was leaving he wished us a good trip. :)

It’s New Year’s Eve of 2021/2022. Time has flown and this diary entry is extremely late.

I met the cleaner this morning. A middle-aged man called Julian. He’d accidentally opened the door to our rooms a few days ago, because he didn’t know we were inside and wanted to clean the rooms. Must’ve been a shock for him (as it was for us, lol.)

And today, as I was going to the back of the house to toss out some trash, he immediately recognized me and came up to me to apologize, with such sincerity, about opening our doors. In really good English. And I said it was fine, no no, don’t worry, and he kept apologizing. He could totally pass off for Japanese, with the profuse apologies.

Just wanted to record that while it’s fresh.

Bon anno! Happy New Year!

I was trying to say it, but couldn’t remember, so I kept saying “Bon… Bonnn…?” The garbage truck guy was there too, another shorter Italian middle-aged man. And he said, “Bon anno!” So I could finally wish them a happy new year in Italian. It was nice. Seems like Spanish repairmen and Italian cleaner-men are indeed the best.

Alright. The time has come to condense 6 weeks of travel-working/holiday life into this post. Gotta start somewhere.

Or not. It’s the first day of work for 2022 tomorrow — gotta sleep early :) Kinda mildly dreading work, but not to any significant or unhealthy extent. Must be the distance of being in another country, plus work-from-home due to Covid. Slightly worried about being rusty after idling for about two weeks (or more really), but I’m sure it’ll be fine.

I had a dream a few days ago about a colleague messaging me about something, and it wasn’t good. I was rather worried by that within the dream itself, and after waking up, I realized I must have some subconscious worries about work. But yeah, I definitely do have some worries. Guess I’ll have to work on being at peace with that.

More updates tomorrow (hopefully! To stick to the mid-week posting schedule!)

*Note: Update did not happen until about six weeks later. Whoops*

— Some time in January, 2022 —

Finally picking this up again! It’s a Sunday, and we’re sitting at a pier. It’s hella windy and there’s wind chill (not great for typing), but it’s nice to be out!

Here we go.

On the night after the repairman came, Cher and I got some drinks and had a really nice chcat. Yep. Chcat. Not chat. Because my fingers are going a bit numb in this wind. Anyway, that was, I think, one of the best conversations I’ve had with Cher — her tongue is looser when she’s drinking. Although if you ask me what we talked about, I can’t remember anything now. But the conversation flowed so much better than it usually does with her. It felt like she wasn’t thinking so much before speaking.

We visited another nearby town. It was really pretty. Small, with picturesque, quaint streets. Mosaic tiles everywhere (all the house numbers and names were done in individual tiles for each letter). Windy as hell still. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in such a small town. You’d have to commute out to work, for school. Things like that. You’d probably know many of your neighbors. And you’d have tourists walking around outside your house all the time. That’s probably why their window blinds are always drawn. It was a heavy walking day, and we chanced upon an avocado farm. At first I thought it was a wild avocado tree (and we picked up two avocados that had fallen to the ground), but then realized we were surrounded by avocado trees so it had to be a plantation. Was that stealing? Well. They were on the ground.

Also, we spotted an extremely talkative cat. I swear we had a full-on conversation in meow-nese.

Had gazpacho for the first time. Not a fan, lol, though Cher thought it was decently nice. Also had a way-too-gigantic Spanish tortilla. How do people eat those things?? It’s like a two-inch thick omelet with potatoes, the size of a dinner plate. It must be a dish that a whole family shares or something.

There was a highly-rated hike nearby where we were staying, called Rio Chillar. Honestly, we were running out of things to do within the nice beachy town, so this was a good option for an activity. On the way to the hike we walked past a flea market. Would’ve missed it, if not for the fact that we were walking up a hill, and I decided to stop and look back (i.e. was being weak and trying to stall). It was an interesting market. Full of gypsy-looking folks (I’m definitely projecting here) that came with cars/vans filled with stuff. Just stuff. There were people that laid out tangled bunches of wires — charging cables, random electronic parts, a single flip phone next to some other unidentified, cut-off wires. Random pairs of shoes. Baby shoes. Books. Décor. Islamic-looking décor. African décor. An induction stove. Clothes. I wondered where these items had been acquired. From sifting through dumpsters? From thrift shops? I wondered how the vendors would pack everything back into their cars at the end of the day. There’s no way they’d be able to see through their rearview mirrors with all that stuff crammed in their cars. How much money could they make a day? Were they really gypsies/van dwellers?

Or maybe, these were all just my projections and they’re regular people who do this as a business.

Anyway. We made it to the hiking spot after some searching around. (We’d walked in the wrong direction towards the sound of a waterfall, just about 5 minutes away. The waterfall had been fenced in to prevent people from going in. It was an interesting sight, a “captive waterfall”. For conservation purposes, to prevent contamination of the water or degradation of nature.) But we did eventually find the head of the trail. It probably would have been wiser to do more research before setting off, but well. The path follows a stream, and we walked along it. It was calm, a nice walk. And then we ran out of path. Had to hop on some rocks, balance on some fallen logs. Walked through some slightly overgrown trail bits. There was a part with a bamboo path, and the bamboo grew in an n-shaped arch that formed a small tunnel (carved out by previous hikers, I’m sure). You had to do a duckwalk to get through. And then we really ran out of path. Tried to walk in the stream barefoot (since common hiking wisdom tells you not to get your shoes wet). It was freezing. We reached a bank and sat to dry our feet, and put on our shoes. Two hikers walked by, splashing in the stream. And we thought, damn, they came prepared. They must have brought water booties or something (we couldn’t see them clearly through the bushes). And then we continued trying to hop on rocks and slowly make our way along the river. At this point I was thinking about possibly hunkering down on a dry spot for lunch, then heading back.

Two German guys we’d met near the trailhead (they’d also been trying to find the entrance to the trail) came splashing towards us down the stream. We greeted each other — “Hey! So you did manage to find the trailhead!”

One of the guys, seeing us still trying to balance precariously on the rock, said, “You gotta just walk in the water!”

I asked them, “Is it just more river?”, thinking that if there wasn’t some kind of highlight, like a waterfall, then maybe it wasn’t worth it to keep trudging on in the sameness.

And he said, “Yeah, and it’s awesome!

That totally shifted my mindset. And he was right. It was more river, but it wasn’t just more river. It was bloody awesome. We’d seen them before so we knew they weren’t wearing water shoes, just regular ones. And we spent the next two hours plonking through the ankle-to-shin-deep water in our running shoes. It was fun, it felt freeing, and it was awesome.

As the sun was setting, we were walking back out and Cher saw some animals in the distance. It was a whole herd of them. For a second I was worried they could be dangerous — but as we walked closer, we realized they were just a herd of goats. Totally unexpected, and slightly surreal. Soon the goat herders showed up. An elderly Spanish grandfather, and his small grandson. A lively kid, out with his grandfather. What a special bonding experience. Although for them, it’s just everyday life.

We walked past a big stone quarry. It was mostly flat, slightly concave, running alongside the path. By now all the hikers were probably gone, though those goat herders were not too far away. On a hunch I shouted “Hello!” at the rock, and it echoed.

Goat herders must’ve thought we were weird-ass tourists.

We walked back home with wet (and pretty clean) shoes. It was surprisingly alright.

We even got some churros (which, by the way, you can only get before noon for breakfast, or after 5pm as a “snack”. Yep, no snacks during regular teatime of 1–5pm for these Spaniards.) These churros were nothing like those in other places. Southern Spain’s churros are huge and look/taste almost exactly like youtiao. And they’re salty. And the chocolate you eat them with, isn’t actually chocolate or chocolate sauce — it’s an extremely thick chocolate drink. Like a hot chocolate, but with 5 times more powder than what you’d normally put.

We cook most of our meals on this trip. I think our cooking skills have improved, actually.

We did go out for a meal, with some good lamb. And of course, Cher’s favorite part of the meal was the cucumbers in the salad. Well, they were some pretty damn good cucumbers. Pickled in no-idea what, but hella flavorful and delish. Halfway through the meal, the owner of the shop came out with a clown mask. Ok, that sounds scary. It was a normal covid face mask, but with a ridiculous big red nose printed on it. The guy made a funny face, and it made me laugh. What a way to bring joy to your customers. It would be fun to run a restaurant like that, with interaction with the people who come.

Cher was busy working and I was busy slacking, so I went off in search of a more hidden little beach. It was a slightly tricky walk to the beach, and there was no one there. As you walked through the tall, dry brown-yellow weeds that are twice your height and obscure the view, you can hear the waves. And then you exit the patch through your little path. And you had the whole place to yourself. Just you, the sand, the surrounding rocky cliffs, and the tremendous sound of crashing waves.

It felt so personal.

I would stand on the beach, near the edge of where the waves would wash up to. And when I looked away, the ocean would send a bigger wave and I’d be sent scampering backwards to avoid the water. I took off my shoes to dip my toes in the water. When the water retreated under your feet, it dragged the sand you were standing on away with it.

It was the first time I felt a tinge of fear of the water.

It felt like if I turned my back to the ocean, it would swallow me up. It would send an unusually big wave and it’d crash down on me, and no one would ever know this girl had disappeared in this secret beach in the middle of nowhere.

…Of course, it’s not actually an unknown beach. It’s on Google maps and has a sign at the entrance (a single ski held in place with some rocks, with the name of the beach hand-painted over it in green and purple.) And there was a little shack on one of the short cliffs that enclosed the beach. As I was leaving the area I saw movement in the shack. Guess I wasn’t as alone and adventurous as I’d thought. :)

The next morning we went to catch the sunrise. The same older lady with grey, short wavy hair was there. Sitting with her face towards the sun.

There was no sunrise — it was too cloudy.

Maybe she was disappointed. Or not. I was disappointed I didn’t get to see her smile with her eyes closed, face towards the rising orange sun. An overwhelming sense of serenity.

We did catch the sunset that day, on the way to dinner. And I saw the biggest, lankiest, shaggy brown dog. It was almost the size of a small horse. Or at least it looked like it could be. It was a Borzoi (Russian wolfhound). And yes, I had to google that. The owner had told me what breed it was, but all I remembered was “Russian”, so thankfully google is great at finding results for “biggest dog breed Russian”. Also, its probably cute for a child to go up to a stranger to ask to pet their dog, but definitely less so if it’s a 24-year-old woman. Well. It was worth it.

This is gonna be a really long entry.

We reached the restaurant and it was closed. Well, we were walking towards the light of the restaurant, through a really dark shipyard(?). There were boats stacked at the side, and it felt almost slightly eerie. You could see the stars. Not a massive amount of them, but enough. As we approached the restaurant, a guy came out.

Estas abierto?” I asked. Are you open? (Pretty much the limit of my Spanish)

“Ehhhh. Maybe.”

What kind of answer is that, lol. Turns out he meant that if we wanted drinks, he could get us some, but there was no food. (Which, actually, was pretty nice of him to offer. They were closed.)

We’d walked about 30 minutes for this iconic conversation. And then we said something like, “Ah, okay,” and just turned around and left, walking back into the darkness.

I think this falls within the list of some of the most awkward conversations in my short 24 years of life.

We went back to a seafood restaurant we’d been to before, that we knew was affordable and pretty good. It did not disappoint. The waiter asked if we wanted salt in our food, which I thought was a slightly weird question.

“Do you usually put salt?”

“Well, yes.”

“Then yes, with salt please.”

Then he asked if we were South Korean.

“No, why?”

“Oh, they always ask for no salt, South Koreans.”

“But it’s better with salt, no?” I asked.

“Well, yes.” There was a hint of disapproval in his tone there, probably like when you ask a chef to exclude an important ingredient in a dish. I felt a little bad for the South Koreans — they were probably just trying to be healthy, but had left such an impression. “So, salt?” he continued.

“Yes, salt.” Then I added, “Just the salt.” I made a “that’s all” gesture just to exaggerate a bit, in case words got lost in translation (this seemed to be the go-to English-speaking waiter at the restaurant.)

He laughed. I like to think that was a real laugh.

The food was good. Seafood. We asked for some extra lemon slices and Cher snuck them into her pocket (to make guacamole later with our “foraged/stolen” avocados). They even gave us two shots for free at the end of the meal. I’d seen the two older ladies at the table next to us taking a shot each too. It was interesting to see — I’d never actually seen older people taking shots before. Maybe it was a “digestivo”?

“What flavors do you have?” I asked the waiter when he asked what shots we’d like.

“Apple, and herbs… ‘erbs,” he repeated with some concentration, dropping the h, very British (sorry, Bri’ish) style.

“Herbs?” I confirmed, because I’d never heard of a herb-flavored liquor before.

“Yes herbs. Oh! You say the ‘h’ the same way.” Like how they pronounce their ‘j’ like ‘hhhhe’.

Those were good shots. Probably made better because they were free.
We went home and made the guacamole. It was pretty good too. Probably made better because the avocadoes were free. :)

We left town the next day, to take a train to another city. That was the day I lost my swiss army knife (the multitool type). I’d had it for years, maybe 5 years, and I was so used to having it around. It was the small kind.

They didn’t allow it on the train. The maximum length of blade they allowed was something like 5cm. My blade was maybe 5.5cm. The security screener guy held it up to a chart that he had, showing me that the blade just exceeded the maximum allowed length. He told me I had to throw it away. In the heat of the moment, I did. And about 20 seconds later, I found myself crying.
Poor Cher must have been a bit shocked.

We got on the train, and I sat there trying and failing at not crying. Cher convinced me to go back and try to mail the knife back home. And after maybe 3 minutes, I did. I went back out, and asked the screener guy if he had the keys to the “discarded objects” box. He said no, only the police had the keys, sorry. You can try the police, but it probably won’t work. He had one hell of a stony face. But oh well, he was just doing his job. I was close to crying again.

I stuck my hand into the box. It was empty. It had a type of trap-door mechanism at the bottom, a flap that opened downwards very slightly when a weighted object landed on it, and then moved back to a horizontal position once the object fell through. You couldn’t pull the flap upwards to reach what was below. You couldn’t push it downwards far enough to stick a hand through it. I shone my phone’s torchlight into the box, and realized you could still see the knife at the top of the pile. I reached my fingers in, trying to fish out the knife. The screener guy just kept looking at me and saying, “Not possible, no, not possible.” I ignored him. And caught the knife between the tips of my index and middle finger.

What a feeling that was. I fished it out, and in broken Spanish (broken because my Spanish is bad, and broken because I was holding back sobs) asked the screener guy, “Is there a post office near here?” He said yes, but not possible.

I took off running.

It was a weird headspace. I was so focused on saving my knife, I really didn’t care what anyone else would think of this crazy crying Asian girl running through the station, clutching some unidentifiable object in her fist to her chest.

I got out of the station. Approached a random girl who was smoking and asked her, “Disculpe, donde esta la oficina de correo?” Excuse me, where is the post office?

She very nicely told me it was just that building across the street. I thanked her and took off running again. There was only maybe 10 minutes before our train would depart.

I ran into the post office. Ran upstairs. Saw that there was a queue of about four people. I panicked.

In desperation, I asked the girl in front of me (a very cool-looking young lady, with multiple earrings and a good sense of style) if she spoke English.
Very little, she said.

I was halfway hyperventilating, and trying to form Spanish sentences in my head. I must have looked completely crazed, bursting into this post office spluttering and half-crying.

“Whoa, whoa, relax,” she said.

I eventually managed to ask her, through google translate, if she could help me mail the knife back to my house. It was a crazy ask, and I looked completely crazy, but what the hell. It was a strange headspace. I was desperate and barely restraining hysterics.

She was conflicted. “Sorry, I can’t. It’s very difficult.” Totally reasonable, I thought. My heart was sinking, but she had been so nice to me. And then she said, “But I can let you go in front of me.” And then she asked the other 3 people in line if I could go in front of them, explaining the situation in rapid Spanish that I could only grasp the gist of. Hope gleamed in my chest. I’d pay any amount (ok, almost any) to have the item mailed back. But then, the lady working at the counter stonewalled me.

It’s a dangerous article, we can’t send it.

The cool-looking young lady came and tried to reason with the counter staff in Spanish, but she wouldn’t budge.

I was so grateful to this young lady.

I am so grateful. She’d really done her best in the moment to help this borderline hysterical stranger who couldn’t speak her language. I thanked her, smiling through tears, as she apologized for not being able to help. In hindsight, I realize both the screener guy and the young lady had said it was “not possible” to mail the item, because the post office didn’t allow you to mail “dangerous” items. They just couldn’t communicate it to me, since I don’t speak Spanish.

It was weird, but despite the impending loss of my quite treasured knife, the joy I felt from receiving this young lady’s kindness almost balanced it out. It was bittersweet. I’m being melodramatic. But in that moment, there were so many emotions in me that I really didn’t care about the outside world. I guess it’s a minor, way watered down version of when mothers see their babies in danger, and do anything to save them.

I took the knife outside, held it to my chest for the 100th time, took a picture of it, then left it on top of a dustbin.

My world at that moment had really closed in on me. It felt so small. Just me, and the knife. I hope this description makes sense.

It’s quite ridiculous. It must’ve been the suddenness and unexpectedness of the whole thing, and the rush of having to catch the train, and my sentimentality, that made me so upset over losing the knife. But yeah. I think that was the first time I’d experienced intense emotion like that. And it was over a freaking knife.

I went back to the station, through the metal detector again. I was holding my phone and wallet in one hand, and was about to place them down. They said oh it’s ok, you don’t have to put that through the machine (the one with the conveyor belt that x-rays everything). They just did a cursory scan with their handheld scanner over my other arm (the one without the phone) and my legs. In hindsight, if I had just taken the knife back and held it between my phone and wallet, I probably would’ve made it through.

But how was I to know that? So, it’s alright.

Also, turns out Cher had accidentally left her jacket behind at the scanner. So, it was a good thing I was there to pick it up (though either way, we probably would’ve noticed it was missing and gone back to pick it up.)

We got back on the train and left for the next city. I probably blubbered on for another 20 minutes. But, I’m so grateful that Cher convinced me to go back and get the knife. At least I can rest easy knowing I’d tried my best.
You would regret if you didn’t try.

Yes, it still sucked that the knife was gone. I felt like I’d been robbed. The screener guy had been so strict…… But he probably hadn’t realized just how much I valued that knife, and was just doing his job.

But I’d come away with that experience of being helped by such a kind stranger. It was gold. And a knife is just an object. I can get a new one. Anyway, that was also the day we would meet Cher’s mom and start the next leg of our trip. A week-long road trip around the south of Spain.

We reached Seville in the late afternoon, then spent a good half an hour dragging our suitcases to our accommodation. Note to self — bad idea. No fun. But we did it.

We met the host of the Airbnb. A cool guy who was essentially renting out his own bachelor pad. The whole house was really cozy and had so much personality. It was his home. The lighting was dim, the bedroom was simple, books everywhere, a well-stocked kitchen, a bunch of board games too, and a Hogwarts acceptance letter (in Spanish) stuck on the fridge.

Cher’s mom arrived later that evening, a bustling mess of luggage. Pretty sure my first impression was, ah, an additional person to take care of. But strangely, she didn’t really feel like someone’s mom, just another older adult. And of course, Cher had to fuss over her a bit and make sure she settled in okay.

We went out for dinner. A really nice place with good, interesting food. Good oxtail stew. Cher’s mom talked a lot about work. Big business world stuff. Not something I know much about, but it was decently interesting.

Cher planned the whole road trip portion of the trip. We went to the royal alcazar of Seville, our first big touristy spot in our trip. It was pretty cool. The buildings there clearly have Islamic influence, and look quite mosque-like.
Not that we really had an image of what we thought Spain would look like, but it definitely wasn’t this. At least it wasn’t just another typical European old-looking building.

There was a spot that made a nice picture, and people were queueing to get to the central spot. A little boy, probably up to thigh-level in height, went straight to the front of the queue and took his shot, all professional and serious, trying to line his angles up perfectly. He wasn’t blocking anyone. It’s good to be a tiny photographer.

We had lunch in a nice bustling pub. The table next to us had probably four chairs, but at least seven people. They just stood next to their sitting friends. Clearly the socializing is the key point here, not so much the food.

We hit some other tourist spots. All beautiful. At plaza de espana, a big square next to the park that had lots of horse rides going on, there were lots of people just hanging out. In the middle of the square, someone had set up a bubbles zone. Parents brought their kids to swing around bubble-making contraptions made of giant loops of string, and made giant kid-sized bubbles. Bubbles bring joy to kids and adults alike. It was cute to watch.

We dropped by a supermarket and made a salad for dinner. Cher’s mom is really good at throwing together ingredients in a way that makes them taste as good as possible. Even the sour-as-hell oranges that grow everywhere along the sides of the street in Andalusia, she’d take one and add it to the salad marinade, and it worked.

The whole road trip was a lot of driving from city to city, hitting up those “must-see” tourist spots (mostly architecture). They were nice, but honestly I can’t really appreciate that much architecture after a while. Plus, all the driving was kind of tiring. Note to self — no more crammed road trips.
It was kinda exciting to drive though, and also luckily, driving went well especially considering I hadn’t driven in like two years before this trip.

It was nice to have a third person around. Cher’s mom is super energetic and always buzzing around (maybe a little too much), but she was much nicer to have around then I had expected. She was really like just another person, like another friend, rather than “someone’s mom”.

We had lots of good food (Cher had planned a bunch of places that were more expensive than our usual, but they were well worth the price.) We cooked/made salad a fair bit too, especially since the food outside at restaurants could get a bit too heavy at times. Salad was a good way to offset the “heaviness” with some light food. We made curry one of the nights, with some curry powder. Damn, I’d never made curry before and hadn’t realized it was so easy. For real, salads and curry were like recipes “unlocked” for me after that road trip. Cher and I fell back on those two dishes pretty often after the trip too.

We had a nice supper with drinks, that curry night. Cher’s mom made some camembert infused with honey, olive oil, and herbs, or something like that. Cher had gone out with her mom to buy some wine, and we had a chill night. It was really good. To just talk, like three friends. I really should get Cher to drink more. It really loosens her up. And again, Cher’s mom had so many stories to share about the corporate world. That high-powered corporate figureheads can also be full of crap and do dumb shit. It was a good night. I think we slept at like 2am. Also, that’s another great reason not to city-hop by car. You can drink and sleep late when you don’t have to get up early and drive the next day.

Even though Cher had planned most of the trip, and it was nice to just follow along with her plans and not have to think so much, there were still plenty of times we ended up doing picnics in random locations. I felt bad for Cher’s mom, because she seemed cold. Oh well. It’s always hard to plan everything well, especially in a foreign place.

The morning after that curry night, Cher got up late. Cher’s mom would always be the first to get up, and she’d always make some “fancy” breakfast for us. Like french toast. Definitely more fancy than my usual cereal with yoghurt. I’d feel bad that she was always buzzing around, and that Cher would always be sleeping in. But, I guess, I was just more on edge because it was someone else’s mom. If it was my own mom, would I let her get up hella early and cook breakfast for me? Hm. I’d probably tell her not to do it. But that’s me.

Anyway, since Cher was still sleeping, we got to have a little talk with just two of us. It was good. She clearly cares a lot about Cher. And we totally agree about so many things. Cher doesn’t share her troubles with people. Cher clearly had a shit 2020 (and her mom mentioned that before 2020, when Cher’s job offer was rescinded, Cher had never really had any major roadblocks in her life.) And about Cher being Christian, we’re just happy if she’s happy — “some people just need that 3rd party thing (aka god) for support in their life”. Something like that. I can’t remember exactly what she said.

It really is quite something, to talk to your friend’s mom about such things.

We went to another town, a little town at the base of a mountain. The roads were windy and full of switchbacks. Narrow. And in the town itself, the hills were insane. We scratched the car. Thank goodness for full-coverage insurance.

It was cold, and the house only had two portable heaters. We went out for dinner (it was really good), and froze on the way back since there was a light rain. Poor Cher’s mom was just gritting her teeth and trying to get through it.
And that night, we were totally fine in the living room with both portable heaters heating the space. But then the bedrooms were cold, and Cher’s mom was clearly freezing when she got into bed. I felt terrible, but also had a tinge of “I don’t want to over step boundaries”. But what the hell, this woman was cold. So I took her probably expensive cashmere scarf and laid it directly over the heater to warm up, then gave it to her to wrap herself in it. Then went outside to grab Cher’s water bottle and filled it with hot water we’d just boiled, and handed it to her too. I think she was grateful. She’s a well-to-do woman, so I suppose she’s probably never really had to Macgyver things like this (at least not in her recent lifetime). Meanwhile, when I was living with my dad in Japan during winter, we had no heater. Lol. You learn these things out of necessity. And I felt bad that she’d been thrown into me and Cher’s travelling style, probably without really knowing it’d be like this. But she was a great sport and never complained.

We went to Cadiz, a coastal town. They have these huge cube-shaped rocks that line the shore, and some one had set up a little “cat city” on those rocks. There had to be maybe 10 cats, lounging about in crates and cat shelters with cat beds and cat scratching posts that someone had set up for them. It was pretty funny.

We made our way to Barcelona. The apartment was cosy, and very simple. The host seemed like a cool guy. Definitely gay. He’d furnished the place with lots of plastic crates and wooden pallets. Our shelves were plastic crates nailed to the wall. Our bed was a mattress placed on a couple of pallets. It sounds bare bones, and it was, but it actually looked really, really cool. This guy clearly had artistic talent. He’d made his place look so good even with extremely budget materials.

Barcelona was buzzing with life. Big city vibes. Freedom. Diversity. It was cool, though we didn’t stay for long either.

When Cher’s mom left, early in the morning in a taxi, I wanted to give her a hug. But as usual, things were hectic (she really is a buzzing bee that does everything so quickly) so I didn’t get to. Well, maybe I’ll just have to be more “assertive” lol.

It can be stressful hanging out with Cher’s mom. I don’t know how she survives like that. It was funny, when we’d just gotten into one of our Airbnbs, the host thought she was really stressed because of how she’d buzz around and check everything so quickly. “Tell her to relax.” Lol.

It really was nice to have Cher’s mom around for those 10 days or so, but when she left, I felt like we could finally take a deep breath and relax again.
We hung around in Barcelona for a few more days. The cool gay host got a covid scare on the day that we moved out. In the new place, which was a proper “hotel”, there were 3 receptionists that shared the 24-hour work day. 8-hour shifts each, I guess. They always looked bored out of their minds. We tried some empanadas in Barcelona. And good pastries.

Then we made our way to Italy, back to Rome, then immediately down to Naples.



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