This is a series of posts about Italy, Malta, and Spain that starts here.
Juan drove us back to the Palace, our heads nodding in a stupor in the back seat. As we passed through the exurbs of Granada, Juan pointed out the area where he lived with his wife and kids. It was mile after mile of new high-rise buildings. Not as scenic as the white villages or central Granada, but probably more spacious and affordable.
His kids were five and seven, which made me realize he was probably a lot younger than I’d guessed. I felt sheepish about the lecherous comment I’d made to Lynn when I first saw him. “We have a sort of ‘women’s privilege’,” I said to Lynn later, “where we can make smarmy remarks about men but if they did the same toward a woman we would be disgusted with them”
“That’s changing though,” she remarked. “In HR circles you can’t get away with anything like that, no matter who you are.”
We would move on to Toledo tomorrow. We’d been in Granada five nights and at last, we sat on the hotel terrace again and had the excellent tapas platter, as we should have done every night.
The next morning, after stuffing myself with enough smoked salmon to tide me over until the next trip, we caught a cab to the bus station. It was full of “colorful” characters, which is probably an insensitive word. There was a nun and a dwarf, but not a dwarf nun like there had been in Rome. There was a mute who was begging with a placard that said, “Soy mudo.” There were your standard backpackers sleeping on their packs, playing guitar, and dividing a Snicker’s bar five ways with a Swiss Army knife.
There were the usual vending machines offering … Snicker’s bars and cigarettes, but also these fabulous stands selling dried fruit and gelato.
No one seemed to be buying. I didn’t buy anything, so they’ll probably be replaced by a MacDonald’s. It’s all my fault!
We were seated on the bus across the aisle from two American college students whose conversation consisted mainly of these words: like, totally, actually, literally, I mean, you know, sort of, kind of, and gross. They weren’t talking loudly, but their voices carried in the way of people who are cock sure of themselves.
“I’m like, totally going to Portugal. I mean, it’s actually on my list, although, like, my friend Chelsea posted pics of the food on Instagram and it’s kind of like gross, you know, sort of like, totally gross.”
It was a four-hour bus ride.
There was no wireless but the students fiddled nonstop with their phones. Were they paying for data roaming? They both wore sunglasses and ear buds, even while talking to one another, which seems like the height of rudeness. At least they could have done that thing where you take out one ear bud in a feeble attempt to demonstrate you give a shit about the person who is trying to talk to you. I often lift my sun glasses when I’m speaking to someone so I can make eye contact to acknowledge they are human.
Lynn sat in the aisle seat reading a book, apparently unperturbed. Maybe because I’m American, I’m embarrassed by annoying Americans—although I’ve been one myself plenty of times. But I know myself; once I clock on to something that bugs me, I have a very hard time pulling my focus away.
The scenery changed from olive groves to gently rolling reddish-hued hills. I did a pretty good job of focusing on it until I noticed the students never looked out the window.
Then I caught this: “Like, Ben Carson is totally so smart! I mean, he should actually be kind of like, the head of something, you know.”
My knee jerked–literally–and I clutched Lynn’s arm to stop myself from leaning across and totally giving them, like, a piece of my mind.
“Maybe they’re being sarcastic,” Lynn whispered. Yes, I told myself shakily, that must be it. I put in my ear buds and played some Pink Floyd. I wasn’t going to let them ruin the landscape for me.