Santiago de Compostela and Couchsurfing

June 19, 2009

I spent last night sleeping in the Reus airport. For some reason it feels like I´ve done this one too many times. I feel good today and cannot wait to meet Jon, my first couchsurfing experience ever.

At this point I drivel on about purchasing a bike, which I´ll talk about later. I make it to Santiago de Compostela, and Jon´s place:

This is incredible. Jon is trusting and friendly. I walked in the front door, a little late, probably making him late for work, but he was all smiles and gave me my own room and my own set of keys to the place. He offered anything in the fridge and from the looks of this guy´s kitchen he likes to cook. Santiago de Compostela is so much different than Sevilla, it is very humid here, the people speak clear, perfect Spanish the way you learn it in school, and the climate is a bit colder since we´re so much further north. Also, for those that don´t know the Cathedral of S.C. is where ¨el camino de santiago¨ ends, the several-month-long peregrination can begin from as far as France and people who finish it get a certificate as well as special treatment in hostels and homes along the way. For those that finish it, it is truly an incredible experience, and you can hear the cheers of celebration for kilometers when the weary travellers reach their destination.

Jon himself has a Ph.d in theoretical physics. He studies, tests, writes, and studies some more the energies and properties that hold our universe together and govern the world as we know it. He works primarily with String Theory but loses me in the infinite complexity of the theories. What I can tell from this is Jon is one hell of a smart man. He´s also hosted hundreds of couchsurfers from all over the world. Of all of them, he says he´s never had a bad experience. There´s even another couchsurfer staying here who hasn´t been home to England in two years! Jon is a photographer in his spare time, and has some great pictures to his credit.

Tonight Jon invited me to join him and his friends Ana (from Colombia) and Ben (from South Africa) for dinner. I´m starving from travel and Ana is a fantastic cook. Together Jon and Ana whip up a fantastic dinner of coconut rice and what we call ¨Jon Shock Chicken¨, which is so fantastic we nearly finish all of it. The dinner conversation was great and Ana invites me to a free concert being held at the University the next night.´

Jon and I. I gave him a CSU t-shirt.

Jon and I. I gave him a CSU t-shirt.

Inside the Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

The Cathedral at S.C.

The Cathedral at S.C.

A couple of ¨camino¨ers

A couple of ¨camino¨ers

A ¨solar halo¨ Jon told me about it.

A ¨solar halo¨ Jon told me about it.

May 20, 2009

´I found a person who´s will to let me Couchsurf with them in Munich, so that´s good news. I´ve sent requests for Salzburg and Frankfurt, Rome and Florence as well but so far no luck. Everyone´s too busy.

Ana invited me to a cocktail party at her friend´s place to hang out before the concert. Jon had plans so it was perfect that Ana invited me. Chris, the couchsurfer from England, doesn´t speak Spanish, which is a little difficult but he´s hanging in there – definitely doing better than I would in his situation.

Ana´s friends were great. We had so much fun talking and hanging out that we missed the concert. I think we all ok with that because it was actually pretty cold outside.´

Checking out the ¨Harry Potter Library¨ with Ana

Checking out the ¨Harry Potter Library¨ with Ana

Our first night´s dinner. left to right, Jon, Ana, Chris, David

Our first night´s dinner. left to right, Jon, Ana, Chris, David

May 22, 2009 Cooking Octopus

I didn´t actually write a journal entry about this, but for those that don´t know Galicia is FAMOUS fo seafood. It´s next to the coast and so seafood is practically a way of life for these people. I asked Jon – since he likes to cook – if we could cook octopus and he said sure. He´s never done it before, so that makes two of us. The day of, I went to a big market and picked up a kilo of frozen octopus (a whole one). They even give you a student discount at the market. I brought that sucker home and started to thaw him in the sink.

During the day there is a lot to see in S.C. the parks are beautiful due to the cool, moist climate and I spend a lot of my time there. But it´s also interesting to eplore the town and Cathedral so that where my time goes during the day. Also, if you remember I was awarded a research grant to study Gallego, the third most commonly spoken language in Spain, so whenever I see a sign translated in 3 languages (Castellano, Gallego, English), I snap a quick picture. The Cathedral of S.C. holds the remains of James, the Apostle who intitially made the trek across Europe. It is in memory of that event that people still do it to this day.

That night, Jon came home from work and we set to work preparing the octopus. You have to remove the beak, eyes, and other internal organs before you cook it. The octopus uncooked is really just a lumpy, slimy pile of goop so getting everything out seemed challenging, but it wound up taking only a little while and we had it boiling in no time. It actually went really well. Later on, Ana, (Colombia), Ben (South Africa), Aña (Moscow), Jon (England), and a guy from Wisconsin, and I all sat around a table and ate together. I couldn´t have imagined a better last night in S.C.

Pulpo! Pre-cooking

Pulpo! Pre-cooking

IMG_4680

It turns pink when you cook it

It turns pink when you cook it

Left to right, Wisconsin man, Jon, Me, Ana, Aña, and Ben

Left to right, Wisconsin man, Jon, Me, Ana, Aña, and Ben

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One thought on “Santiago de Compostela and Couchsurfing

  1. Wow, reading this brings back awesome memories. It was just great to have you in Santiago and it’d be fantastic if we could meet up another time on another continent. I’ll see if I can make it Japan way any time soon!

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