So it’s been a while (and most probably a while will pass) since I last wrote a post on my personal blog. I wonder why. Probably waffling on is not my forte. Or maybe I have nothing to say at all. Nevertheless it’s good to come back from time to time to a place where you can share some thoughts and feel no pressure of academic writing. 🙂
Now that I’ve got into Wordsworth’s ‘pensive mood’ I keep repeating these particular two lines:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought.
So something extraordinary happened in my boringly exciting life this summer. I participated in the International Researcher Development Week organised by the University of Granada. A wonderful experience, full of interesting sessions and discoveries. I diligently attended all the events organised by the staff and was impressed by their professionalism, on the one hand, and by the University’s various labs and research hubs making a real change in people’s lives, on the other. Definitely the very first warning uttered by one of the organizers at our very first meeting didn’t stick in my mind. I distinctly remember him advising all the attendees to buy a hat as the ‘Granadian’ sun is merciless, particularly at the end of July.
So the first four days ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, bareheaded. Needless to say that at that time I felt good. Yet, On Thursday afternoon I realized that I was totally worn out. So that was the result of the sun’s gentle pat on my head. So I bought a hat on Thursday evening and decided that that would count for the already passed four days. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
At the closing ceremony I felt OK. A bit dizzy but OK. That Friday I walked up to Alhambra (the famous palace and fortress in Granada) with my hat on. I felt empowered. I had the hat, so the sun couldn’t do any harm to me. The next day, a fantastic trip to the Mediterranean Sea. Wow. That was something! A person who claims she can’t swim swam and swam and made it alive to the shore. I felt like a fish in the sea (not as gracious as a dolphin but still OK). I felt at home! Yet, I did it again. I left my hat on the shore as it was far too beautiful to be watered in the salty sea. In addition, there was wind and there was a big chance that one dolphin might end up wearing my hat so I would leave it on the shore every time I would go for a swim (and trust me I stayed more in the sea than on the shore).
Feeling ecstatic I payed little attention to the sun’s grin. I came back home and was looking forward to the next day. ‘Oh Alhambra, I’ve heard so much about you. I’m coming.’ To be on the safe side I decided to walk to Alhambra in the afternoon to know exactly how much it would take me to get there on foot. When I got to bed at night I knew exactly when to start off in order to be on time there the next day. I paid little attention to the fact that I felt quite unwell. I told myself that the best therapy is a good night’s sleep.
In the morning one of my friends strongly advised me to take the bus to Alhambra. But stubbornness is my second name. So while I said ‘Yes’ to her I walked to the dream castle. I would stop on my way as I felt dizzy, but I made it. I was on top of Granada. ‘Alhambra, here I am!’
Once there, guess where did I go first? Exactly, to the bathroom (I apologize for this detail but it’s an indispensable part of our life). So, with my hat on, I went to see what exactly I would do after I have visited the palace (I was scheduled to enter it at 12.00). So I discovered there are plenty of places to visit afterwards (and I would definitely do that, I had my hat on)! Yet, I started feeling more than dizzy. So I decided to sit down next to a wall and patiently wait for 11.45 (the time when I should stand in the queue to enter the palace). While sitting there I did my best to convince myself that I would make it.
11.45 – I queued. 11.50 (more or less) – I fainted. And, God, I was lucky! Just seconds before passing out, a Red Cross doctor was passing by. I stopped her. I apologized. I fainted. So I woke up lying on the stones to the palace, my hat one stone away.
The Red Cross Lady was doing her best to bring me to my senses. She was talking in Spanish and I was talking in English (which didn’t work). Then I started talking in Italian and it worked. We managed to understand each other. A wheelchair appeared out of the blue. It had the effect of a pumpkin turning into a carriage on me. I was taken to the resting room. Somebody took my hat.
I think I was there for quite a while. There are not enough words to thank the Red Cross Lady who, unlike me, was sure that I would eventually get to the palace that day. She even called someone to ask if I could enter after I got better. She gave me some syrup to drink. She took my blood pressure. She felt my pulse. She even made sure my sugar was OK. And then she gave me my hat to put it on my head.
As I couldn’t lie there forever she advised me to go home, have a rest and then get back in the evening. So she called a taxi and the distance to Alhambra became larger and larger with ‘every wheel the taxi took’.
At home I went straight to bed. It was quite disappointing to find an empty house. I thought that my friends would pat me and say ‘Poor thing’, instead they were having fun swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. I slept till evening and every time I woke up I worried I would not be able to sleep at night. Yet, I had a great night’s sleep. So my body had its revenge on me. My recklessness cost me a fortune. And it was not about the ticket (it was about 20 Euro), it was all about the experience I would have got.
The next morning I was already waiting for the plane to Barcelona in a cafe at the airport. My hat was carefully placed on the sit next to mine. I still felt dizzy and angry with myself. I had no idea how I was supposed to survive alone in Barcelona the week ahead. Then I pitied myself. Then I encouraged myself. Then I said I would make it. Then I went to check in. Then I got on board. Then I was up in the sky. And my hat was left on that sit at the airport of Granada. We had only three adventurous days together!
So Barcelona, here I was. Bareheaded, again! This time I bought a hat on the very day of my arrival. But this is the story of another hat. So maybe another time when I’m ‘in pensive mood’, again, I’ll write the story of the second hat. Meanwhile Wordsworth was a genius. At the time I did not think of this adventure as something worth remembering, now I cherish every single detail of my wonderful stay in Granada.
I hope no one will mind the change I’ve made to the last line of Wordsworth’s poem:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with Granada.