Guillem was still sleeping when I called him from the train station. He’d had a late night. We waited outside the train station, two Asians sticking out like a sore thumb, but no one seemed to mind. To kill our time, we wondered: who was the first human who was so smart to realise that you could peel a banana, who realised that you could cut your hair (Samson?), and who cracked open the first durian and decided that it was edible?
When we finally got to Guillem’s place, we were welcomed by his dog, Julio. “Que pasa, Julio?” Guillem would greet him. We took Julio out for a short walk and to grab some kebabs for lunch. As we were buying our lunches, Guillem’s friends called. They were on a roadtrip and were making a stop in Salamanca. We went to the park nearby and waited for them as we ate our kebabs.
The three of them arrived shortly, a girl and two guys. Unfortunately, I can’t recall their names. We said hello, lay on the grass and fiddled with my analog camera. Julio decided it would be a good time to try and escape, and the guys had to run after him. We walked to a cafe for a drink and attempted to soak up the sun in spite of the cold. The two guys didn’t talk much because they couldn’t speak much English, so we let them catch up with Guillem instead.
After they left, Guillem brought us around the city. We only had a day, so we could only admire the Art Nouveau and Art Deco Museum from the outside. We saw the Casa de las Conchas, literally the House of the Shells. Guillem made us look for the lucky frog at the University. We also went to Huerto de Calixto y Melibea, a park dedicated to Spain’s very own Romeo and Juliet. It was there I caught a quote from the Little Prince, which was exceptionally meaningful to me then.
I wonder if the stars are lit so that someday, everyone can find theirs.
Guillem works with youths and he has a strong passion for his job. You could tell that he gets along with people very well. As we walked through the city, people often stopped to say hi. At Plaza Mayor, we bumped into a couple of youths he works with, a boy and a girl. He’s sitting on the bench and she’s lying on his lap. Guillem’s like a big brother to them, making sure they’re behaving themselves.
Guillem brought us to meet some of his mates. They have a lad’s lair. They rented a small space and brought in a table football table and some couches. They also had a mini fridge full of beer. A proper lad’s lair. I joined some of them for a game of table football and sucked at the game. One of Guillem’s friend (I’m terrible with Spanish names) was exceptionally enthusiastic about the game. I kept losing, but he kept urging me to go on. His enthusiasm sent the ball flying out of the table several times. “Penalty!” He’d shout as he ran searching for the ball. I thought about how nice it would be if I had a space like that with my mates as well.
We left for dinner while Guillem’s friends went off to catch a football match or something. Guillem was going to bring us tapas bar-hopping! We had the most amazing patatas bravas and all for only 1 Euro. I experienced squeezing with the crowd in a fully packed bar, beer in one hand, plate in the other. No one seemed to mind the elbows and pint glasses. We went to a slightly quieter bar, this time with a much older crowd, but Guillem said they had some tapas we must try, and so we did. The night went on with us filling our stomachs with absolutely delicious tapas and cheap beer. We made our last stop at a two-storey cafe. The rooms were narrow and only a few tables occupied each room. We found a table by the window while Guillem got us more drinks. There were many beautiful paintings on the walls. They were for sale, but we weren’t buying. Guillem wants to stay in Salamanca. He seems happy, despite a failed relationship. He enjoys working with the youths. He DJs on some nights and loves his reggae. He was one of the first few people I knew who have chosen to take the road less travelled and is enjoying what he does. I told myself I wanted to be more like him.
We had such a good time but it was late. We waited at the bus stop but no buses came. Guillem suggested walking to another bus stop, but there were still no buses. We must have missed the last bus. We sat by the road in the cold and moaned for a couple of minutes, then decided we should just get a cab.
Julio was waiting when we got home. “Que pasa, Julio!” I shouted. Too much beer.
We stayed up for a wee bit and caught some Spanish telly then listened to a bit of reggae. Guillem was still awake when we went to bed.
This concludes my Spanish summer in 2010! I had especially vivid memories of Salamanca, because of a new friendship. Thanks to the people I’ve met on the trip, I had a peek into the lives of the locals – and this is what I endeavour in all my travels. Now to move on to more recent travel memories!