Monday, February 27, 2012

Life on Another Planet: The New Adventure Begins

I peer out at the night sky at a million twinkling stars high above my head. It’s as if I'm standing in the center of a planetarium, seemingly able to identify even the most far away galaxies, all within a big round bubble, surrounding me from all angles. Lanzarote, Spain actually does appear to be from another planet, both night and day, so this sensation is quite appropriate. Today was day two of my new adventure, living and working and becoming a part of this small Canary Island off the coast of Africa, part of the Spanish island chain.

My pueblo: a tiny, xen village, appropriately named of Tao, in the Casa Rural, a bundle of attached apartments, surrounded by nothing but natural reserve and farmland, with desert hills in all directions. Every building is white stucco with the shutters and doors painted green and each village in the distance looks like a clean, white oasis of quaint homes and shops. The island is coated in a layer of volcanic ash and the landscape is of erupted and dormant volcanoes around every turn. From my home, the neighboring island of La Graciosa is clearly visible, giving the illusion that just a short jog and a swim would have me sipping out of a coconut on its shore.

I arrived yesterday with little more than a backpack and an email conversation, leaving much to the imagination of what to be anticipated.  Scenic photos and gobs of information gave a vague idea of expectations, but there was no way, no way at all, to ever have pieced together what this island is from mere images. It's a place of wonder, art, and beauty, where people come to play and search, work and enjoy, think and dream... It's this remarkable, mysterious secret, a hidden gem that is still an infant in comparison to desirable tourist destinations and how I ever found myself here blows my mind too much to ponder it. Two weeks ago I was complaining of my overbearing manager at a typical suburban casual dining restaurant, dreaming of Spain and flying high about the clouds to another far away location. Now I'm sitting in the night's silence, staring up at a myriad of stars scattered about the open sky with not a light or sound to interrupt.

While life here is an absolute dream, it isn't to be mistaken for a vacation. I was fooled yesterday as the incredible eccentric couple that has taken me in fed me with amazing food and piles of useful information, all the while in Spanish, molding my mind to absorb the language even more. I fell asleep with ideas of beaches and hikes and mini adventures floating around my brain.  Today I was awoken bright an early to the cries of goats and clucking of roosters to begin day one of my new work. My new boss and adventure mentor walked me though my tasks and four hours later, after plucking away at the keyboard and staring at neighboring computer screens, my head was throbbing with the strain of new lessons, tasks, and challenges.

We then began my next “class” of mastering the roads in my new best friend, a beat up Nissan camping van, equipped with rattling door, a creative paint job, and gutted interior. I'm not complaining; in fact I love her and can't wait to name my new rickety baby, but as we tackled the hilly roads and worked our way around the main city's round-abouts, I couldn't help but feel my heart beating in my throat. (Nearly running over a pedestrian and being run over by an oncoming truck tends to have that effect..) Once upon a time I knew how to drive, but the combination of driving around a small house on roads littered with crazy locals and tiny cars, I suddenly forgot.

The driving was purposeful, eventual filling our bellies, then the van full of goodies from the market for my time here.  This clunker will be my ultimate tool to exploring the island and discovering its incredible beauty up close. We rushed back from the market just in time to unload heaps of fruits, veggies, and essentials, and make our way to my first Spanish yoga class. For two hours I panted and strained and watched attentively to the instructors every move. When it was all said and done there was nothing left but to finally decompress. Life has done more than a 180 in the last 48 hours and my head is spinning with new surrounds, a new way of living, hard work and all in Espanol. But it's a dream, an absolute dream to be here and I’m quite certain that this adventure, my biggest adventure to date, is shaping me from the inside out, down to my core, and will lay the frame work for what is to come. 

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