2/2/2017

Childhood is Global Travel

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The bus trip to Alicante is brief but the visual treats are plentiful. There is the first circle of restaurants and cafes just around the corner of our stop. There is the square with the giant palm tree and workout equipment with the elder gentleman in jeans, sweater, and a cap, doing a slow peddle on the stationary bike. There are the children running along the sidewalk teasing each other and the parents pushing toddlers glowing as they grip a new toy from the market. An older brother holds his sister by the shoulder and gives her a casual kick in the butt from behind and she lunges at his arm before they settle back in their walking rhythm next to each other with ease and familiarity. 

It’s just over a mile between stops but we pass dozens of tiny communities. The older generation wanders arm in arm with their partner or adult children, holding a cane in one hand and gripping the support of their loved one in the other. The lady with the bulky coat and shopping trolly shuffles to get off the bus and the gentleman standing near the exit moves out of the way and helps her quietly, without her seeing, positioning the trolly so she can pull it off the ramp. 

We exit the bus and walk the few minutes to our destination. There is a man washing the windows two stories up who hears loud chatting of a family and looks to nod at them. The adults of the family speak in fast staccato while two young children run ahead and hide behind the statues of mushrooms and Alice In Wonderland themed street decorations. The older sibling watches out for the younger one, wrapping her arm around the toddler and guiding her to the slide. The toddler can almost make the latter’s steps but the mother calls out a warning and she climbs down the two rungs and takes off to the next mushroom behind her sister. They are laughing and calling out to each other in their own language; not Spanish, not English, but Childhood.

I recall when my young son asked if there were kids in Germany on a trip I was taking there years ago. These young children, not yet jaded to the politics of the world or the reality of some who abuse power, enjoy a world the adults can’t see. Time is not linear to them, it slows and quickens depending on context. Fun is simple and friendships are plentiful. The world is new and large and small, everything existing at once and not at all. 

There are many new and different things here in Spain for me, but the most prevailing thought I have is how familiar everything is. This is my first trip to Alicante, but there is already a comfort to the predictability of life. The ladies at the market who check out my purchases are the same as the people at my local grocery store. The old man on the corner reading the paper could be the same regular I see at Starbucks in my neighborhood, always sitting outside, regardless of the weather, reading the day’s news in print. The styles of clothing are slightly different, but not really. The food is a higher quality but still resembles something I’d make at home: eggs, bacon, sliced cucumbers and avocado. The music vacillates between Spanish top hits and American top hits, and I hum a song my children introduced me to just a few weeks ago.