This summer in Cádiz, in the south of Spain, I got used to a few things.
For three weeks I would get out of bed and see this cathedral standing right in front of me, lit up with the morning sun just like this. This is the view from the apartment where I stayed with a roommate and a homestay mom during my time in Cádiz. The view’s not too shabby.
While in Spain, almost every day I went to the market with my friends to get a pre-lunch lunch. We’d always sit right at this table and peruse the smorgasbord of amazing food the Mercado Central has to offer in Cadiz. In the background is Doña Crepa’s stand—our favorite crepe place. Behind me (taking the picture) is the drinks stand. This market became ritual. It’s hard not like stuffing yourself full of the best melocotones (peaches) you’ve ever had or talking with Doña Crepa about her delicious crepes and hot dogs.
It’s also not hard to become accustomed to living in paradise—a place that looks like this without fail. After only three weeks with Abbey Road I was living a kind of life that I’d never experienced before. In one day we would go to the market, have class, go home for lunch and siesta, go out to tour a castle, go to the beach, go get churros and coffee, go out to dinner, play soccer with locals, and then finally crash on our beds at midnight. Life was jam-packed and colorful. Just walking the streets of Cádiz was beautiful—seeing the people, hearing the language, smelling the sea air, listening to the sounds of the city. Life was seriously good, but all good things must come to an end.
Now I’m back at my school in the San Francisco Bay area as a high school senior. My life is busy and full of work. My days consist of school, theater, college apps, homework, and sleeping. It’s a relatively stressful environment—I don’t get time to walk around or to take a siesta or spend time learning about culture on the other side of the world. Most days, the most relaxing thing I do is my homework. I miss the summer—I miss life in Spain. There is a different rhythm there that just doesn’t exist over here.
But it’s not all gone. I’ve found a few small ways to bring back elements of Spanish culture to my everyday life. Firstly, I’ve found myself speaking the language much more often than I used to. Though I usually get comments about having a strange accent (thanks Chris Bond) I’m much happier to start talking and I feel much more comfortable carrying on a conversation. Secondly, I’ve been avidly perusing Yelp looking for tapas bars near me—I search for Spanish food like it’s my job. I now cook everything in olive oil, the staple of Andalucían cuisine. And thirdly, I’ve started listening to Flamenco as I do my homework.
I’ve now found myself, on multiple occasions, listening to “Paco de Lucía” or “Camarón de la Isla” or “Ottmar Liebert” (all great artists you should check out if you’re interested) while I’m evaluating definite integrals or solving for the energy density of an EM wave. It’s a fantastic mix of two very different subjects from two very different places in my life. The cool thing is, when I do a math quiz at school, in my mind I hear the cantejondo and the cantaores; I simulate the percussion of the bailaor, using my desk as my tablao. The rhythm of Flamenco has stayed with me; it has permeated my life in a bizarre way but a way that I value and appreciate.
It’s always sad to leave behind a place when traveling. Life goes back to normal and you can’t help but wish you were back in some amazing place you saw. Home seems eternally mundane after you’ve been somewhere like Cádiz. What’s important is that you don’t let the flavors and feelings of that place slip away. Everyone has their own means of doing this: through pictures, friends, stories—but my way is through music. I can’t afford to spend time looking at pictures all the time or chatting up my pichas on WhatsApp—but I can let Spain’s sound stay with me, as long as my math homework doesn’t get too intense.