After feeling really discouraged and disillusioned because things didn’t work out the way I desperately wanted them to, I managed to pivot and devote my energy to having fun and connecting with friends, old and new. Of course, there was still the source of stress that was finding a room for Radek. More on that later.

Now for this particular post, I will need to introduce a couple vocabulary words:

My new living arrangement is SO great; I really feel like another member of the family. The Sanchez family treat me like a son, and I couldn’t have asked for a better living arrangement. The mom, Janet, is super sweet and caring. We bonded over our love for Peruvian cuisine and INCA COLA. She taught me how to make a Peruvian sauce called la broncaina. I also went with her a couple of times to walk the dog and buy groceries when I had nothing to do. She is like my mom in the sense that she can talk forever, so we always have things to talk about. The dad, Marcelo, is cut from the same cloth. He is hard-working, super nice, and he loves to tinker. He and I bonded over our love for soccer and watches. He has a very nice collection of watches of all sorts of different brands. Nothing crazy expensive, but all very elegant. In fact, he knows a place that can help me get my watches all fixed up and is planning to take me next week. The son, Diego, is my age. We have very different personalities but I think that we compliment each other very well. I really like him and it is nice that he has friends that I can always go and hang out with. We also share passions for music, skating, and tech. The other really good thing about this new place is that while it is pretty far from my host family distance-wise, it is very well connected by the commuter train. I can take the commuter train from the train station by my house and in 11 minutes be at the metro station by my host family's house. So I won't be missing my siblings too much!

In addition to bonding with my new family, I have been reconnecting with my old friends from when I went to school here. First, I reached out to Reda and Uri, who are just as cool as I remember them being. I watched Reda’s team absolutely demolish the team they were playing, with the big man himself leading the team. Although he shoots free throws worse than Shaq (sorry to expose you like that chief). Then, I hung out with Libe, who I was never that close with in high school. He is witty, sassy, and shares my love for fashion and clothes. He showed me how to live the Barcelona lifestyle like a true local, giving me advice for buying groceries, going to bars/clubs, and shopping for trendy clothes. In fact, he took me to some of the cool new stores that have become popular in Barcelona since I have been gone. We checked out the Carhartt store (shoutout Kade), the HUGE Uniqlo store (shoutout Reed), and then this cool store called Weekday. He also took me to this little joint called “Patatas Sultan” that sells french fries for 1 euro. Apparently it’s a MACBA (skate plaza) life staple. On the way over, he told me that the guy in the store was always pretty rude, but when I found out the owner was Persian and started talking to him in my (broken) farsi, he warmed up immediately. Now I have a place to take a snack break while skating!! Lastly, I reconnected with two of the girls from my school, Valeria y Marta. I never really interacted that much with them in high school, but Valeria was SUPER warm when I reached out to her out of nowhere on instagram. She is smart, sweet, and sees eye-to-eye with me on a lot of things. She will be my go-to when I have girl questions in Spain LOL (dont worry Ally, you wont be replaced).

This past weekend was a huge party in Spain called La Mercé, where they celebrate the patron saint of Barcelona. It really has nothing to do with religion in any way, shape, or form. Basically all of the young people go out and get wasted in the streets by the thousands! It is, as the locals say, "typical Espanish" (check my manalogue post to see what mean). I went out on Thursday night with my roommate and friend, Diego, and then my Venezuelan friends. We hung out, skated a little, and then went to get some alcohol when the plaza started filling up. When we went to the paki to buy a couple of beers, the following dialogue ensued:

Paki: "Put that back, I can't sell you alcohol"
Mana: *sigh* "why? do you need to see my ID?"
Paki: "No, because of the time of night"
Mana: "What do you mean? Is it illegal?"
Paki: *getting upset for no reason* "You, where are you from?"
Mana: "I'm not from here, I'm a guiri"
Paki: *pointing at the door* "YOU, GUIRI, OUT"
Mana: "uhhhh okay"

Needless to say, we found a different paki to go to LOL. Although at that paki I did have to ask some Spanish kids to enter with me so the guy wouldn't charge me more upon detecting my American accent. Once we finally secured the drinks, we went to go hang out with the rest of the crowd, which is always a good opportunity for me to make friends. At about 2AM, Diego and Gabriel got tired and decided to go home, leaving me with their other friend Edgar. I decided that it would be a fun idea to start at the top of the street and sit down on my skateboard and have random groups of people push me all the way down the street. I ended up FLYING down the street and lost my friend. After spending some time looking for each other, he decided to go home, leaving me alone with a group of friends that recognised me as the "Chico skate". While talking to them, some girls came up to us and I met la Blanca. Let's just say there was a mutual romantic interest there. Hopefully I get to see her again soon.

The next night, Friday, I went out with Junior and his friends but I was SO tired from being out until 6AM (shoutout Farru and Balvin) and waking up at 9, that while everyone was dancing and having a good time I was sitting on a bench trying to keep my eyes open. A couple of girls walked up to me and told me "My amigO thinks you're cute". I told them thanks, but I'm not gay. Promptly after, one of Juniors friends came over and told me "Mana, tonight you seem a little slumped". They have known me for two weeks and already realise that no energy is very uncharacteristic of me. I ended up leaving early with Junior at 2AM. Before calling it a night I decided that I would try and see if I could find some of my other friends, but upon walking around I got a bad feeling and felt some weird, ghetto vibes, so I decided to quickly get the hell out of there. While I was walking to the metro station, I got pushed to the ground by a group of people screaming "OUT OF THE WAY, OUT OF THE WAY!!", running full speed to an oncoming ambulance. Guess I don't even have to play soccer to get pushed to the ground. Anyways they were carrying a guy on a stretcher with a blood-stained towel over him. The next morning I was watching the news and found out that that incident in particular was the earliest-occurring incident of many that night. Turns out, that man was stabbed with one of the many pieces of broken glass on the floor. After that, there were accounts of people vandalising property, burning cars and motorcycles, and damaging police vehicles, complete with theft, fighting, and sexual assault. In accordance to similar events back home last year, I would deem it a "mostly peaceful" night. A combination of my fatigue and my experience with the calm, perfectly correct events of Friday made me stay home on Saturday night.

On Saturday, I devoted my entire day to finding a room for Radek. I spent the whole week on the different apps and internet channels, making appointments to see rooms. I ended up going to see three different rooms, but the only one that seemed like a decent room with a decent landlord was so overpriced for what was being offered. After coming home feeling a little bit defeated, I vented to my host mom a little bit about the whole situation. She told me that she has a coworker that used to rent out her extra room and that she would call her and see if she would be willing to do so again. Thirty minutes later I was in the room talking to the woman. I told her on the spot that Radek would rent the room without even consulting with him yet. He is getting a bigger bed and room in a slightly better location with a better balcony AND paying the same amount as me. But of course I always say that it's the people that make life worth living, and I have the best possible people around me at my new place. I honestly couldn't be happier about the way that things turned out for me and for us.