When an editor e-mailed me waaaaay back in February about VaughanTown, and I applied and was accepted to a program, I never, ever imagined how greatly it would change the course of my life (and by life, I mean this great ol’ adventure I am on).
But, it sure did. In a beautiful and amazing and wonderful way.
First, it was Anthony. Then, it was Silvia and Emma. And then it was an entire group of fabulous people from Merida. Before the second VaughanTown, I had no intention of going back to Madrid. And Merida? I never had heard of Merida, let alone could point to it on a map.
But, VaughanTown changed everything.
And now, six weeks after the “see you soons” uttered into ears, I was headed to Merida, located in the Extremadura region of Spain (don’t worry … by the time you are done with my adventures, you will be an expert in all things Extremadura, promise) to spend some time with Jose, Alfonso, Maria, Jesus, Macarena and others.
I had no plans as to how long I would stay. I figured a few nights. But, as soon as I got to Maria’s that Sunday and we spoke of visiting Cacares later in the week, the few nights turned into much longer.
By day, when everyone I knew was working, I would wander into the city center, crossing the longest Roman bridge in Europe (it measures in at nearly one kilometer) and meet my friends for coffee or lunch. Or, I would sit at Jose’s and write. One day I even borrowed Jesus’s adorable pup, Lucky (“Puppito” as I call him) and explored the islands on Rio Guadiana.
But, by night … I became a part of something so magical. I became a part of my friends worlds.
Jose and I spent the most time together. The four nights I stayed with him, we would sit outside until the early morning (by my American standards, not Spanish) and talk of life, our families, our relationships, moments that defined who we are today while sipping on Tinto de Verano … or whiskey… or beer.
Other nights, I spent with Maria, hitting up delicious traditional restaurants showcasing the region’s amazing gastronomy and talking about love and life.
All the while, slowly working on my Spanish.
The week in Merida went by way too quickly. I explored a little, wrote a lot and got to solidify friendships with people who, two months ago, never existed in my world.
So, a very special thank you goes to these people: Jose, Maria, Jesus and Alfonso. Thank you for making me a part of your lives for the week. I will NEVER forget it. I am so fortunate to call you my friends.