Once upon a time there was a young Spanish princess – er, a twenty-year-old American girl studying abroad in Spain (same thing) – who desired adventure. She loved to run, and did so competitively in her home kingdom, so she figured why not continue whilst on the European continent? She journeyed far and wide before eventually arriving in the town of Salamanca, Spain. “Why, would you look at this beautiful little city!” she exclaimed, surveying the impressive architecture, quaint little parks, and languid Rio Tormes.
Welcomed with open arms by a lovely older couple, the maiden settled into her chamber and began organizing a new life. Where and when to include her favorite pastime? The trials and tribulations of cultural adjustment plagued her from the start. Breakfast at 8, classes at 9? Hmm, a bit too early for habitual morning runs. Only if necessary, Sleeping Beauty requires rest. Class til 2 and lunch at 3? Este es loco – don’t these Spaniards know that’s almost practice time? A large midday meal of savory soups, egg dishes, empanadas, melon, etc. followed by siesta and, well, 7 o’clock became designated pre-dinner running time.
Lacing up her glass slippers – er, running shoes – the warrior queen set out to conquer. Exploring south of the city she discovered a bike path along Rio Tormes, already populated by quite a few others with whom she shared the “runners’ affinity” (it’s a thing). The path was nice but unfortunately rather short, so she was forced to venture farther, farther and farther, heeding the tug of her restless spirit until – hm. Uh-oh. This city was supposed to be small and easily navigable but where was she?! “This has nothing to do with being too proud to look at the map beforehand,” the distressed damsel muttered to herself (in Spanish of course.) Passing pastelerías and heladerías and cervecerías, dodging in and out of strolling Spaniards, finally humbling herself to ask for directions, she was pleasantly surprised at how safe she felt throughout the endeavor. Arriving at the Plaza Mayor just in time to witness the glorious illumination which occurs at dusk, she was able to orient herself towards home.
“Being lost isn’t so bad when it’s in a place like this,” the princess decided, upon settling down for a warm supper with her new family. “In fact, I can’t wait for next time!” And she lived happily ever after.