Saturday, July 27, 2013, updated 7/29

 

Things are clicking into place. I watch television and understand the commercials, movies, and much of the news. They talk so fast! In the beginning I could only pick up words, then sentences, and now I understand the meaning. I am so glad I have a host mother like Lourdes. She is very independent does her own thing often, giving me a lot of freedom. At first I didn’t know what to do with myself in Spain or how to adapt to her costumbres. Being isolated from the English speaking students at Colegio Mayor, I have a much of a richer immersion experience: applied Spanish skills, exceptional food, good company, and an insider’s insight on the culture. I am very independent and not afraid to take myself on my own adventures.

 

Yesterday, I finally wrote my blog entries about Barcelona and Fiesta de Paellas! Amid the fast pace of events, I wasn’t sure what was right, but I clung to my original choice. I didn’t know the word to describe the feeling. Could it be stubbornness? I described it to Felix in Spanish like so: “I choose a path and keep walking straight on the path no matter what.” What do you call that? No not stubbornness, he corrected me: capacidad de decisión. Through putting the chaos into words and sharing my story with Lourdes and Felix, I appreciate how unique and strong one must be to travel alone, smartly.

 

Today the first article that I coincidentally encountered in the Spanish fashion magazine, S Moda, was titled “Pasajeras solitarias,” meaning, solitary female travelers. I can’t find the article anywhere online and, besides it’s in Spanish, so bear with me as I relate it to you. The author, Leticia García, says that tourism is ever more popular among solitary female travelers today. In recent years, women have traveled 53% more and they have done it with their suitcase as their exclusive companion.

 

As the writer Mark Twain used to say…

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

 

This quote sums up the broader mind that cultural awareness brings. However in Twain’s world, women were prohibited from travel and García features how women have broken out of the preconceptions of a society that viewed them as housewives and regarded female travelers negatively. Even today, many people believe that women go alone because they have nobody to accompany them. Today (as of 2011) CAP Strategic Research findings show that women are the most important sector in tourism. There are dangerous societies for women, maintains Mary Morris, author of Journey Woman. Meanwhile, she upholds that being alone permits a woman to learn more by herself.

 

I am fortunate to be able to travel and gifted with courage. In retrospect, with regard to the Barcelona trip, I could not have done it without my grandmother’s advice to not go. Nor could I have done it without my mom’s unconditional support. Nor could I have done it without my inner drive to demonstrate to myself (and to my grandmother) that I will go and I will have a good time. It was a learning experience. The worst decision I could have made in traveling alone would have been to never try at all. In overcoming the challenges of travel I show myself that I can be the better person, even though it is not easy.