Lets start with the first team ride of the trip, for which I slept 1 hour on the plane and woke up at 8:30... in the morning.... again. So, 1 hours of sleep = 2.5 hours of riding and feeling like I would be lost forever at any moment thanks to this kind of thing:
|Nope, no idea.|
|Someone learned how to edit photos!!|
Ok, so for the rest of the time, just assume that I have no idea where I am, what anyone is saying, or what time it is. This way I can get going on the rest of the story.
One thing that I found myself doing was looking around and trying to figure out if things were supposed to be important or notable in any way. In America we typically have signs on things that tell you that they are important, and there is a hot dog stand nearby with a guy selling those foam fingers with whatever the special thing is printed on them. I think this shows my traveling naivety, because you are riding along and...
|So does this castle sell snickers bars or what?|
Speaking of traveling naivety, no matter how slow you speak, or how flamboyant the hand gesture, if a person does not understand English then you are GETTING NOWHERE. Its like this shower stall from our first hotel:
|So this glass door just... ends? Why does it even open?|
It doesn't matter how hard you think about it, you will never understand.
One thing that I do understand is food. If someone holds a platter of food to me I just shake my head up and down and they put that food in front of me in scoops until I shake my head left and right. Thankfully Paco gave us a Spanish lesson on the first ride stating "For lunch, pollo y pasta, for dinner, pasta y pollo." This I can handle. It was at the very end of the trip that I received something that I wholly could not have expected:
|Jamon! or, Leg of Jamon!|
But that was at the end of the trip, details of which will be in part 2, or 3 at the rate this is going.
So with my sleep schedule out of whack, my language not working, and everyone drinking cafe con leche like it is THE ONLY DELICIOUS WAY TO ENJOY COFFEE (incorrect), I would have to say I was having a difficult time integrating into the culture. One positive from this was my unbelievable desire to go to sleep at every second, and I could not tell you what the ceiling of any hotel in Spain looks like because I normally fell asleep on my way to the pillow. That's too bad, because you figure that in other countries they probably have those magic ceilings like in Harry Potter or no ceiling at all.
Have you ever put red sauce on your rice in the morning? Because I have. Moving on.
So we all got to Spain. We (I) fumbled around a lot. We rode bikes. While riding bikes I noticed something particularly Un-American (because drawing comparisons is the only way I can deal with, well, anything) about Spain, and it was this grassy field:
Its not to say that we don't have some grass, I mean, some people spend more time pampering their lawns than cooking themselves dinner. But what we don't have is unused space. At the very least in America we would have cattle eating that grass so that we could eventually eat them. Optimize! Improve! Better Better BETTER! Efficiency!!!! MAKE THE MONIES! Its particularly American to attempt to take everything up a notch, to capitalize on an opportunity, or somehow take whatever it is and make it better. I noticed that this is particularly not the case in Spain. There is some relaxation taking place. You cant find food before 8:30pm and if you go then, the cook will be angry that he has to start things early. In America there would be a restaurant that was called "you can eat here at 5pm!" There is this grassy field here that just seems to be doing that, being grassy. There is no sign that reads "here lies a grassy field, protected under the grassy field act of 1974." And depending upon which section of the grassy field act this particular grassy field falls, it is either for looking, playing, or AVERT YOUR EYES ITS SECRET. I just thought that was interesting.
That pretty much sums up my time in Spain before the race. As for the race, that will be another blog, but if you want a hint as to how it went: