My phone alarm begins to buzz violently. Meanwhile Mumford and Sons’ “Awake my Soul” quietly gently builds in volume, eventually drowning out the buzzing. Groggily, I reach over and grab my phone to silence it. In an attempt to keep myself awake, I check my Facebook and email. It proves ineffective as neither holds anything very exciting.
I make my way to the kitchen for a glass of water. My roommate, Jaakko, is up as well and we chat quietly while one of our other roommates sleeps. I open the fridge and grab some eggs, tomatoes and chorizo. Frying them in a pan with some olive oil yields a simple breakfast, and I feel much better as I eat.
“Quieres café?” Jaakko asks.
“Claro.” I respond.
The mini coffee maker I bought for 15 Euro at El Corte Ingles begins to sizzle as it heats the water and sends it through the grains. I serve myself some coffee in a clay cup. Reaching into the fridge again, I add some milk.
The morning is cool. In my shorts and t-shirt I’m shivering so I look for something warm in my room. I wasn’t able to bring any sweats or sweatshirts while I was backpacking so my rain jacket is all I have for the time being. After some coffee and warm breakfast, I quickly feel more comfortable. Jaakko leaves for class and I clean my dishes. I have a few hours before my class begins and I contemplate what I should do with the time. Of course, my first thought was to go back to bed, but I quickly discard that in favor a walk. Last night I finished Julia Navarro’s novel Dime Quien Soy, and I decide to look for a bookstore to buy another one of her books.
I brush my teeth and throw some jeans on, then head out the door. It’s about 11:00 and still a bit chilly with just a t-shirt. I walk leisurely in the sun and turn left towards Calle de la Princesa. The first book store I see looks to be huge and I glance upward at the name. Of course, it’s a part of El Corte Ingles, the Spanish equivalent of Macy’s that seemingly has everything you could ever want. I go in and begin to look around. The first book I see is Navarro’s new novel. Excited, I pick it up and begin to read the blurb on the back. It looks interesting until I spot the price. It’s a hardback and costs about what I usually spend on a trip to the grocery store for a week worth of food. I search for an older novel in paperback. I come across the bestseller section and begin to skim the first few pages of each one leaning on the shelf. They are more reasonably priced and I settle on “La sangre de los inocentes”, an older Navarro novel, whose title caught my eye.
Satisfied with my choice, I wander a bit more until I find the check out area. I pay with a 50, much more than the cost but all I have. The clerk looks for change and finds that only coins remain. Not wanting to give me 40 one Euro pieces, she begins to open the other three registers in the island, only to find they all lack bills.
“Espera, por favor.” She requests, rather hurriedly, as she darts off to search for my change.
I lean with my elbows against the glass counter. Noticing the man behind me, I move to the right and stand up, resting my wait on my right hand as I wait.
I look around. The store is relatively busy, filled with a mostly older crowd. The glass door of the store opens to Princesa, and I can see the buses and cars rushing by. The traffic is light today.
I glance back over at the counter to see if the clerk has returned. I find she hasn’t, but that a very official-looking man dressed in a suit has replaced her for the time being. He looks at me expectantly, though not unkindly, probably wondering why I’m leaning against the counter next to the line.
“Estoy esperando mi cambio.” I say politely, in response to his wordless question. He nods and focuses his attention elsewhere.
A few minutes have passed, so I open the book and skim through the first couple pages. The Spanish seems different and more complicated, but still understandable. I see someone approaching and stop reading. The clerk has returned at last. Handing me my change she mumbles an apology and I thank her. I leave the store and shove the plastic bag with my book into my drawstring bag as I pull out my phone. A half hour has passed, and I decide that a walk towards the center of town sounds nice. I put my phone away and tighten the bag, slinging it on my back again as I begin to walk, without hurry, down Princesa.