finding myself in awe of the details

Adjusting to a new home and culture abroad is challenging, mostly in a good way. It’s forced me to be more adaptable than I am at home – and to give up my desire for (warning: approaching buzzword!) control. There are just too many unknown factors here that I simply can’t be in control of my days and my conversations in ways that I’m used to. (Missed the bus? Oh well, there’s another one coming. Have no idea what that dude’s shouting at me? Just smile and wave. Got charged for something I didn’t order, but showed up at the table? Well, better savor that damn food.)

And while that makes me feel a little bristly at times, it also makes me more chill than usual. If I got worked up over every little thing that doesn’t go perfectly right here, I’d  be walking around with a cloud of ugly, dirty bitterness over me. Instead, I’d rather let it go, chalk it up to experience and spend my time focusing on the things that are going really well.

The magic, as always, is in the little details.

Things like spending my mornings writing stories (I’m actually writing fiction again! Holy shit.) and drinking cafe con leche.

Cafe con leche

Coooookies.

And running stair repeats near Park Guell.

Stairs

It’s funny how many people *don’t* take the stairs here. They’ll even take their dogs up the escalators.

And drinking IPAs with Shelby at our favorite bar, La Cerveteca.

Cerveteca

One word: Hops.

And happening upon a team of castellers building a “five-story” castell (human tower) in a plaza in my neighborhood.

castellers

There was a live band, too, and lots of chanting from the crowd.

Sappy as it may be, I’m lucky as hell to be going through my days here. Barcelona is a pretty good place to dust out the mental cobwebs and get a new perspective on what I want in life – and how to roll when things don’t exactly go my way.

Tell me: What small things are you finding comfort in these days?

IPA saves the day

Can you believe I’ve been in Barcelona for five days? In fact, it feels like nearly double that. With all of the adjustments and new stimuli, my days feel long. That’s a good thing, of course, but it’s also a bit emotionally exhausting.

In short, some of my expectations (damn those expectations!) have been dashed, and I’m having to look at this experience with a bit of a new perspective. I won’t go into details now, only to say that what I’m hearing about teaching prospects for an American here isn’t promising … and so I may need to alter my plans – or even change direction completely.

It’s too early to tell right now, so I’m working hard to gather as much information as possible, and I’m trying to stay positive. Whatever happens happens, and I may as well enjoy myself in the meantime.

Speaking of which, I finally went running today! Yeah for sweaty goodness!

sweaty goodness

It may have been a short run, but I still got a good workout, as evidenced by the glossy forehead.

And though I likely need to pick a different route next time (one in a less crowded area, with not quite so many crosswalks), I did get to enjoy tree-lined avenues:

This is St Joan Avenue, right near my apartment.

This is St Joan Avenue, right near my apartment.

And pretty fountains:

fountain

(Yes, I took my iPhone on my run so I could snap some pics.)

But the best part of the day, far and above, was the restaurant Shelby and I stumbled upon at dinnertime. (Have I mentioned that Shelby is here in Barcelona? She’s a Portland friend who’s overlapping with part of my time here, and she’s also taking some classes – not related to the TEFL course I’m taking. And, perhaps it goes without mentioning, but it is wonderful to have a friend here.)

We’ve been lamenting the lack of spicy food in Barcelona – and, actually, the food in general. It … leaves something to be desired. Sure, it’s nice to eat chocolate croissants for breakfast, but one can only take so much white sugar and white bread. Serrano ham is lovely too, in moderation, but I’m already sick of bocadillos and it’s not even been a week.

Not to mention the beer selection (or lack thereof). We’ve only seen Pilsners, and we’ve steered clear, preferring cava instead.

Until we happened upon a tiny restaurant tonight called Red Ant. We were headed to a different place, but the aroma from Red Ant literally stopped us in our tracks. It’s a noodle house with a small menu (bowls of ramen, curry dishes, crispy tofu), and maybe best of all, they have IPA. IPA! In Barcelona! (That’s unheard of.)

We may have actually got a bit teary-eyed.

IPA

Ohmygod, ohmygod, we’re drinking IPA!

The food was everything we wanted it to be and more. (DO I SOUND LIKE I’M GUSHING OR WHAT?!) But, seriously, it’s the first meal I’ve had here that satisfied me in that deep-soul-hell-yes-that’s-what-I’m-talking-about way. They even served Sriracha on the table. Sriracha! In Barcelona! (Unheard of! … Are you sensing a theme?)

Yep, I got fed tonight.

And it restored me.

curry

Documentation of aforementioned deep-soul satisfaction

I believe the universe does, in fact, serve up little reminders and omens just when you need them, and sometimes they come in the form of curry.