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  • 1. I remember how I had anticipated the European trip after my high school graduation and how excited I was when my older sister decided to come along. My sister had just completed a medical assistance course and she used me as a guinea pig to give me my inoculations for the trip. Chasing me around the house, telling me how it wouldn’t hurt and that it bothered her more than it would hurt me.

    2. I remember eating a meal at our first hotel in London and just how bland everything tasted. Shopping from street merchants and knowing they were speaking English but not being able to understand one word they said.

    3. I remember crossing the English channel and taking the train into Paris and being in awe of the enormity of the train station. I was surrounded by people and things, everyone seemingly knowing where they were going and I had no idea where I was going.

    4. I remember the Eiffel Tower as a big metal giant and Marie Antoinette’s village at Versaille as an agrarian French representative of my naive preconceptions of Europe. In the morning, from my hotel room, my windows opened up to the Eiffel Tower and a local baker across the street. People coming and going with baguettes propped under their arms as they rode on their bikes by the Seine.

    5. I remember baskets of fresh croissants, rolls and cafe au lait for breakfast.

    6. I remember the train ride from Paris to Madrid. Being stuffed into a carriage with too many people. Going to the hallway to stand by the window for hours as I looked out upon a vast land, sparsely populated. I celebrated each tree that passed. My sister was sick in the cabin with her head buried in her knees.

    7. I remember people crowding onto the train, some loaded in on stretchers with IV’s, others on crutches, going to see the annual celebration of my Lady of Fatima. My train seat was now the floor in the hallway and I rested my head to the rocking motion of the train.

    8. I remember leaving the train and my feet were so swollen that I could not fit my feet into my shoes. It was over 100˚ and again I emerged into a land where my communication skills were infantile.

    9. I remember going drinking in the caves in Madrid with college students from the university. Drinking pitchers of fresh Sangria and eating potato omelets with artichoke hearts and listening to local talent who wandered in. Four floors of bars with different drink specialties and hor devours. We then went to a disco and I can’t remember after that.

    10. I remember being in the town square in Barcelona. There was a festival and games were being played and I was encouraged to run and jump with a partner holding hands over two people who were being used as a barricade. I ran and jumped as high as I could and fell smack dab on my ass. I was gathered up by the crowd and their smiling faces and I felt at home and accepted.
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