Somehow, someway, everything always happens to me. I think that the way that I live and interact with people somehow creates a bunch of crazy stories.

For this post, you will have to know the following "typical Espaneesh" vocabulary words:


Week three. I finally feel settled-in to my new Spanish life. I keep learning "typical Espanish" things, this week learning about crossing the street on red. Only noobs wait for the crosswalk to turn green, while the seasoned veterans just sort of weave their way through oncoming traffic. The first main event to tell this week would be my birthday. This week I turned 22, which makes me feel even older than I already did hanging around Junior and all his friends. I might be freshly 22 but I still look like I am freshly out of high school. On Sunday I was fortunate enough to celebrate my birthday with my host family, where we ate a very special Peruvian lunch. We even recreated the photo of my 16th birthday that I spent in Barcelona. That being said, on Monday, the day of my actual birthday, I felt really lonely. I woke up in my new place, with nobody home, 10,000 kilometers away from the people that I love. It was weird because the last time that I spent my birthday in Barcelona it was more or less the same, but I think now it made me a little sad because of how much more I value the people that I love and that love me back. Plus, all of my friends and family back home were asleep when I woke up. I actually ended up spending my birthday with some 30-somethings from Reddit at a random bar in Barcelona. BUT once 7pm or so came around, I spent the rest of the day on the phone with everyone calling me from home. Then, once I got home, I had a glass of wine with my new host family to celebrate the occasion. Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes.

This week started with a trip to the watch store, where I needed to get three watch batteries changed. Marcelo (my new host dad) took me to this store that he knows that was owned by this Indian man. He tried to charge me €20 for the three batteries, but because I knew how he operated, I told him that in the US I could get them all changed for $5 each, which of course is BS since it would cost me about $20/battery. So I ended up getting them all three done for €15, which for me is a bargain and a half. Thank God (or Allah?) I grew up with a Persian dad.

After that I spent the next couple of days out-and-about doing fun stuff around town. I went to the beach on what seemed like the last day of warm weather of the year with one of the guys that I met on Reddit. We hung out on the sand for a while and then I went over the skatepark to work on my FS180 on the bank. On the way home, I ended up stopping by the only Persian store in all of Barcelona, where the owner invited me to have a cup of tea with him. He is a super nice guy about 50-something, with a youthful spirit (much like my uncles iykyk). He will be a good person to know in order to gain access to the Persian community. When I got home, I ended up talking to Arane, who invited me to come visit her in Madrid, since she had some days off of work. It worked out that Barcelona was playing Atletico Madrid the upcoming weekend AND that Alvaro was planning on visiting from detective school in Avila. So I bought a ticket for Madrid for the next night, taking advantage of the time I have before Radek gets to Spain. Later that night, I went out with Junior and my good friend and compatriot, Brian, to watch the PSG vs. Man City game, where we watched Messi score an emphatic first goal for his new club against a huge rival.

On my last day in Barcelona, I ended up meeting up with Carolina, who is a good friend of my old host mom's sister. I only met her one time in my entire life, but I guess she really liked me when we first met, because she wanted to see me while I was in town. I met up with her and her boyfriend for a coffee, where we talked about politics, music, art, and culture. My kind of conversation. An intelligent one. After that, I sat around scouring the relevant channels looking for a English-speaking book club in Barcelona. Without much luck, I decided that I was going to start one myself. I put my head together with Chris, another guy that I met who was looking for a book club, and came up with the Barcelona Book Club. We created a Whatsapp group with about 20 people, got book recommendations, and set up a vote for the first book in October. The first book will be "Waves" by Virginia Woolf; definitely not a book that I am excited about, but majority rules, and I suppose I believe in democracy. You might think "what kind of guy goes across the world, looks for a book club, and then creates one when he discovers there isn't one?" Answer: only me.


9PM Barcelona Sants. After sitting and chatting for too long and having to rush to get home and pack in 30 minutes, I finally got on the train and in my seat, or so I thought. When I got on the train I ended up finding a really nice seat in the back next to a charger, only to be kicked out by someone that came and told me that I was sitting in their seat. I looked back at my ticket and realized that there were assigned seats LOL. Big screw up. When I finally got to Madrid, I was so tired from having such a long day, but also so excited to be reunited with Arane. We ended up getting home and staying up until sunrise, talking and laughing and catching up. Not the most ideal start to a fun-packed, super busy 5 days, but yet also the perfect start at the same time.

After having a VERY slow start to an early morning, we went walking around Madrid. Arane showed me some skate spots around the city, some of the sights around her neighborhood, and this cool (and more importantly free) arcade down the street. After that we met her boyfriend, Adri, in Retiro Park and walked around and took pictures in the glass palace. Later in the day, Arane's friends took us to this enormous mall that is open to skaters, roller-skates, and scooters. You SKATE from store to store on the glossiest, smoothest ground in an air-conditioned building. When I first got into Arane's friends car the first thing I asked her was whether she was a cayetana or not because I saw a Spanish flag bracelet. It was really funny because she’s anything but that. Anyways we got a really good laugh out of that. After walking (or should I say skating) around the mall for a while, we sat down at a beach-themed rooftop bar complete with sand and a DJ playing only the best reggaetón songs. We drank and joked and danced until it was time to go back home and watch "Aquí no hay quien viva" and chat the night away once again.

The next morning, Alvaro cut my hair, because without tradition we are nothing. Every time I have gone to casa de Varela Martinez, Alvaro has cut my hair, each time doing a better job than the last. I mean he only had 4 years of practice between this time and the last time. He gave me a skin fade, meaning that he started with a zero on the bottom and went up from there. If my dad were to see me he would assuredly ask me why I have decided to look like a skinhead.

We ended up going out AGAIN. The plan was to go out with Arane and some of her friends that aren’t as welcoming as some of her other friends. She said that if we got bored, we could do a bomba de humo and dip out and hit a different club. Long story short, the night ended up being a disaster. First, I made some other friends in the club and went to hang out with them all night since Arane’s guy friends weren’t that cool. Then, I left the club and snuck in beer and didn’t share with anyone, which upset some people. After that I went to talk to some girls, who didn’t believe that I was actually American since my Spanish accent is believable enough. In order to convince them, I showed them my ID. One of the girls insisted that my ID was fake, bending it every which way until she CRACKED it. Cracked ID + being 10,000 kilometers from home = very unhappy Mana. To top it all off, me and Arane ended up disagreeing on a few things and I decided to do a bomba de humo by myself and go home by myself on the metro. Everyone was pissed off with me; one of Arane’s friends said that I was doing “emotional chantajation”. But we all ended up making up and laughing about it and going out the next night, which is a whole ‘nother story.

I will back up a little bit chronologically to tell another story. When we were getting off the metro on the way to the club, I accidentally stepped on this old man’s shoe. When I say old, I mean like 80 something years old. He had his leg in the middle of the metro, so it really wasn’t my fault. But being the nice guy that I am (lol), I repeatedly apologized to him as I was getting off the metro. When I told Arane and her friend what happened, Arane’s friend, Laura, told me “This is Spain. You don’t apologize. You tell the man to go to hell and to move his FUCKING leg” LOL. Fast forward to Mana in the middle of a bomba de humo, I get on the metro to go home from the club at 1:30AM and SEE THE SAME MAN. He came up to me and said what a coincidence to have seen me again and he appreciated the fact that I was so genuinely apologetic about stepping on his shoe. He told me that he would like to treat me to a lunch on Sunday, to which I gratefully obliged. I asked him for his phone so I could give him my phone number, but instead he pulled out a ripped piece of paper and a little knife-sharpened wooden pencil and told me to write down my name and number. Maybe I should start doing that with people here, just for shits and giggles. He ended up calling me on Sunday morning and I met him downtown at a very fancy and expensive paella place to eat the best paella I have ever had in my life. He is a very nice old man and was not pervy in any way. I think he was just lonely and young at heart and enjoyed hanging out with a young man. He was an architect for many many years, with a passion for the art that he creates. His passion for his craft translated into him doing very well for himself and making a lot of money. In fact, he got to meet Franco (the dictator) and his brother. When I got home, Valle, Arane’s mom (and my second mom) scolded me for going out to lunch with a random old person. Glad to know that there are people out here that care about me.

After reading in the park and doing some more sightseeing, I sat down with Alvaro to watch the Barcelona vs. Atletico Madrid game. Barcelona lost and Luis Suarez scored against his old club and didn’t celebrate. We were watching the stream illegally so we were a couple minutes behind the real game. But Alvaro had an app on his phone that reported the game’s events, so he knew that the Suarez goal was coming and asked me “How do you think this game is going to turn out. Who is going to score next?”. To which I responded, “I think Suarez is going to score before half time but I don’t think he will celebrate.” Sure enough, I was right. Guess I have that high level soccer IQ.

Chapandaz was the name of discoteca of the night. Arane’s friends started to wait in line to get in at 9:30PM. When we got there at 11:30PM after the game was over, we cut everyone in line to join them more or less towards the front. When we got to the front, I took a selfie with everyone behind us that we cut LOL. We didn’t even end up getting in until 12:30AM, but the wait was definitely worth it, because the bar was jungle-themed, played the best reggaetón songs, and had a delicious signature drink! Now the problem with the night had nothing to do with the bar, but had to do with the night. Because there was a big soccer game that no Spaniard would dare miss, the club was full of gay guys and girls. In other words, those who don’t care to watch the soccer game. For those of you that know me very well, you know that I often get confused for a gay guy. While it doesn’t really bother me and I usually take it as a compliment, it does make me uncomfortable to get hit on by gay guys, especially these kind, which were very bold and pushy. A series of incidents with gay men occurred that night:

First and foremost, as soon as I got there I felt eyes on me. It didn’t put me in a mischievous mood like it would be if it were girls looking at me. Quite the contrary, I was feeling pretty uncomfortable. The men in there were undressing me with their eyes and I could feel it. No bueno. I couldn’t even look around without having some guy trying to make eye contact with me and give me the “fuck me” eyes. I ended up going to the bathroom and had my dick stared at by the big fat gay guy peeing next to me. Then later in the night MY SONG, “Volví” by Bad Bunny and Aventura came on. Will even said that when that song came on in the club in Vegas it was like “[my] soul left [my] body and was possessed by reggaetón”. Anyways, I was waiting all night for the song to come on, just for some gay guy to come over and hit on me right when it starts. He wouldn’t leave me alone either. He was right in my face the whole time, saying “oh theres no way you’re straight, you’re just playing hard to get”. He went to try and grab me and I shoved him so hard that he almost fell over. But being a straight male, I was in the minority, so his group of friends almost tried to fight me. I ended up going to a group of girls and telling them to save me, only to find out that ALL THEIR FRIENDS WERE GAY. The last of the incidents was me dancing with my friends and a gay guy coming up behind me trying to get me to dance on him. I was so fed up at this point that I gave him a big, hard… ELBOW right in the chest. From then on, they mostly left me alone. I guess I got added to the “no-fly” list. I walked out of the club thinking “why are girls so beautiful?”. Like if I were gay I would have it so easy, but NOOOO I have to be in love with women.

The next day I woke up pretty upset with the gay community, so Arane and her friends thought it would be a good idea to take me to the gay neighborhood of Madrid. It started out with Adri giving me a motorcycle ride around the center of the town and ended with me, Arane, Adri, and Andrea walking around Chuecas (which means “bent” in Spanish). Chuecas was complete with a rainbow metro stop, rainbow flags hanging in every street, many many sex shops, and a store that sells dick-shaped waffles. Luckily nobody gave me a hard time over there because I’d have pitied the fool. Later in the day we went to a bar called 100 Montaditos, which is a Madrid tradition for me. Alvaro took me when I came at 16, again at 17, and then now at 22. The beer is still big and the prices are still cheap.

Instead of a moral to leave you with, I will leave you with the question I always ask myself. It is the same question that Mario Balotelli once famously asked a crowd in Manchester, WHY ALWAYS ME? For better or for worse, it’s always happening to me. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.