“No quiero cerrar estas heridas
No quiero curarme del ayer.”
– Qué Gano Olvidándote, Reik, ft. la Z y la L
Barcelona has been on my mind lately. Warm sunshine in the middle of December; fateful encounters with strangers in random cafés and restaurants, who ended up teaching me the history of modern Spain in the span of a couple of hours; walking through the streets of the Barri Gotic in the middle of the night, feeling rather invincible — these were my maiden journeys into the self and into the minds and lives of others, remembered even more intensely as they occurred on my first foray into traveling sola.
I have been pleasantly surprised by the graceful generosity of others while on the road; by the warmth of rapidly blossoming friendships between two people whose existence were hitherto unknown to the other up till their first moment of encounter. How wonderful it was to hear my French bike tour guide in Barcelona, F, tell me, knowing I was about to board my ferry to Mallorca that same evening, “Listen, you’ve got my number on my card. If you need any help — any help at all — call me. Okay?” And how amazing it was to gain an older sister in Sevilla, who welcomed me to her home all the way in Fez. And to feel the protective powers of paternal concern in Riga from my concerned host, who embraced me into the folds of his beautiful family, knowing I was alone and on my own.
I have never been concerned with trying local cuisine too much, because these precious encounters, I feel, are what truly nourish me while I am alone in foreign lands. I left Barcelona with espadrilles in my backpack and many more souvenirs of the enduring, indescribable kind that I will cherish and perhaps return to in the future. If ever a memory or the resonances of a place could be filled with grace and induce gratitude, Barcelona is one such city on the atlas of my travels. This, perhaps, is why #viajosola to me is more than a verb, but a life principle that has consistently helped me restore my faith in humanity.