Sunday, 27 March 2011

Sod it, I´ll sort it out later

Living la vida loca here in Madrid, the good times come in swings and roundabouts. Facing my first visitor-free weekend in six weeks – for which I had carefully organised two days of blank space – I was looking forward to being blissfully lazy and unsociable. However, probably due to a combination of overtiredness and drowsiness (caused by antibiotics taken for a piercing that went badly wrong) I found myself at the wrong end of a trough. Rather than revelling in a weekend of guilt-free nothingness, I was friendsick and craving a night giggling in front of a mindless English gameshow - Take Me Out or Total Wipeout to be precise.

However, by now accustomed to pangs of homesickness, rather than throw myself hopelessly on my bed after work on Saturday, I somewhat reluctantly put on my trainers and went for a run. Although afterwards my body was grumbling with uncomfortable twinges, it had the desired effect. After twenty minutes of puffing my way around Retiro Park I stopped yearning for a night of Total Wipeout and began chewing over a basic blueprint of what to do with myself until 2012. I returned mentally revitalised with a vague plan. Although my hazy ideas will undoubtedly be redrafted several times over, one feature that I am fairly confident will remain constant is travel - albeit as yet I don´t know who I´ll go with, where I´ll go or when.

With travel on my brain, I am now in quandary. Is time to quit my weekend job and start exploring Spain: living right in the middle, I´m ideally placed to explore the four corners. However, it is just as tempting to continue using the welcome wodge of Saturday school cash to pad out my backpacking piggy bank. Just how much should you skrimp and save for a rainy day? When is it okay to think “Sod it, I´ll work as little as possible, live cheap, enjoy myself as much as possible for as long as possible and deal with the problems later”?

Living an adventure is certainly an appealing prospect. I recently found myself sharing a bench with a familiar-looking guitarrist: as I pass the hours between classes rotating between different benches in the city, he strums his way around the tourist hotspots. Curious about his story, I started a conversation. After the obligatory polite chit-chat about the weather, he started to tell me that travelling as a living is easily doable: all you need is a skill that is universal and can be employed wherever you are. For example, he had previously worked as a chef, and many of his friends now scrape a living as clowns or performers. Floating from place to place unburdened by responsibility is indeed a romantic notion, and I´m certainly not against living without luxuries: when travelling I relished the simplicity of living out of a backpack. Similarly, considering that since arriving in Spain I´ve had my wallet, coat, phone and camera nicked, I´m learning (albeit the hard way) to attach less value to material things.

However, a quick glance around at the sorry collection of human statutes attempting to squeeze a euro out of sceptical tourists in Plaza Mayor is enough to expose the rough reality of what is just a romantic idea. When my wallet was swiped and I lost a good chunk of my months wages, not only was I lucky enough to have generous friends, but I also had enough cash in the bank to pay them back. As much as I don´t mind swapping flights for overnight buses and restaurants for market stalls, I don´t think I could forgo the emergency cushion of cash in the bank. When returning from Barcelona recently, I somehow found myself on the verge of missing my flight home with no credit on my phone, no bank cards and less than a fiver in my purse. To say it was a stressful morning is something of an understatement. As such, the thought of being stranded in a foreign country without the emergency option of plastic money is enough to squash any urges to take to the road. I suppose the “I´ll live for the moment and sort it out later” physche is just one step too far for me.

So, it looks like the Saturday job will continue for now... at least until I get dreadlocks, shop exclusively in hemp shops and become a real hippie!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds idyllic. Go and watch 'Into the Wild' now!