Posted on June 20, 2013
How did it feel like coming back to Europe after 7 months traveling in South America? When I arrived to Madrid, I tried to catch the connecting flight to Vienna, but it was too late. Iberia’s customer service apologized that they couldn’t wait for me and booked me for the next flight that was in 7 hours. I could at least call my mother for free and let her know that the lunch she made can be heated for dinner. My mommy was upset. Me too, I had no reason to wait at the airport and I had no interest in discovering Madrid. There are few people that know that I was almost robbed on my way to South America, when I traveled through Madrid. It happened in a dark park (my fault) when 4 guys approached me and one of them shouted: “Give me one euro”. I said that I won’t give him anything, but he shouted even lauder. The camera was under my arm, covered with a shirt, so there was a big danger that he could see it and grab it quickly. I gave him all the coins that I had in my pocket and ran away. This experience left a bitter taste in my mouth, so I didn’t want to return to Madrid at the end of my trip.
Back to the point. I stayed at the airport and walked around. I walked so much, because there was nothing else to do. Imagine that there was no free wifi, not even in the restaurants or cafes. There were some internet machines, but they didn’t work properly and it was just too expensive. I was too tired to read. So I walked from one café to another one and there was the same sort of situation repeating all the time. Different beggars walked around the airport as I did, and asked for money. I was surprised because when it occasionally happened to me in South America it seemed so normal. I idealized Europe while traveling, I thought that it was a more developed and richer continent (and in way it is). Suddenly there were all these people coming to me and asking for food or for some change. What’s going on Europe?
There was one man that stood out of the crowd, because he had problems with his leg. He was the only one that asked for food, not for money. When it happened the third time, I decided to offer him the salad with bread that I had on my tray. I got a meal voucher from Iberia for my missed flight, and I didn’t feel like eating so much, so I wanted to share it with him. He was so happy and walked away with it immediately. Few seconds later came the cashier and asked me if I gave the salad to the poor man or he stole it from me. I said that I gave it to him and that I hope that it wasn’t a problem. Suddenly, she looked really moved and started to thank me and said that it was a very good thing what I did. Hm… it was just a salad.
Few minutes later, I went down to the kiosk. A young man asked if it was possible to buy cigarettes and the shopping assistant replied “no”. I offered to sell him one pack. It was still in Caracas when I had only 2 minutes to board the plane and 350 Bolivares on my hand (approximately 10 EUR on the black market). So I bought a cartoon of cigarettes for my friends that smoke back home, because it was incredibly cheap. I told the guy that he could buy one pack from me, but has to remind me the price of cigarettes in Europe. He put 5 EUR in my hand, took one pack and left. I made 4 EUR on one pack of cigarettes! Not a bad start of making money again ☺
Besides the cold weather in Madrid and the clean airport, there was yet one more thing that surprised me. And that was nothing else than the European women. They looked so slim/skinny compared to the South American women (especially the ones from the north part of South America). I got used to the beauty stereotype that is curvy, women that are proud of their round backside and have (mostly done) big breast. In Europe is a different beauty standard, which I had forgotten about. I reviewed my body that has changed while traveling, especially after eating so many arepas and empanadas hehe. I came to the conclusion that my latin curves are not fashionable anymore. But somehow, it didn’t start bothering me until now. I feel strong, relaxed and healthy, which means that I feel really good.
Finally, the fact that I didn’t expect to happen was the toilet paper story. You might know that they have really bad tubes in South America and everyone is asked to throw the toilet paper into the garbage bin after using it. I got used to it so much, that I found it weird to splash it down the toilet and I was searching for the garbage bin as usually… Who would have said that I’ll change a lifelong habit and create a new one?
This story is over and the first 4 impressions of Europe resulted into my 4 personal conclusions:
1. SHARE: I never know how much I can help someone even living in a developed country.
2. EARN: Business opportunities are in front of me, I just have to make it happen.
3. LOVE YOURSELF: I might be a super model on the other side of the planet (ok, not really, because I am still short hehe).
4. ACCEPT CHANGES: Old habits can be easily forgotten, even when it comes to the thing like using a toilet paper ☺