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Author Topic: Welcome to Portugal...?  (Read 3129 times)
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« on: February 08, 2009, 04:20:30 AM »

Time flies when you’re having fun, it really does!  I have been in Spain for nearly a month now; tell me why it feels like I just got here?!  Everything has been more spectacular than I could have ever imagined.  I’m not too sure if I even want to go back home! Wink

The most rewarding part of the trip so far has been the actual flight into Madrid.  I left the San Antonio airport with all four pieces of my own luggage and all sixteen friends and faculty at one in the afternoon.  The plan was to fly to Houston, then to Newark, NJ, and then land in Madrid.  Who would have known we would have needed to make a “pit-stop” in PORTUGAL! 

Before this year, Madrid hadn’t seen snow in over fifty years; sounds a little familiar (Texas anyone?)  So naturally, the airport was no where near prepared for the six inches of snow that day.  We got to Madrid on time but were told we could not land for another ten minutes so we waited patiently circling Madrid above.  By the time we knew it, ten minutes had turned into thirty and the Captain was telling us the Madrid airport was temporarily closed due to a snow storm!  Plan B was to now land in Portugal, refuel, and head back to Madrid.   

Originally the Captain only predicted about a forty-five minute delay in Portugal but once again the forty-five minutes passed and people began getting claustrophobic and sick having only the recycled air to breathe.  After an hour of restlessness inside the plane, they decided to let all the passengers go inside the airport until further notice. 

At first I really didn’t think anything of being stuck in the airport at Lisbon, Portugal until I realized I had to get my passport stamped in order to enter!  So other than my Spanish Visa, I received my first stamp in my passport!!  I was pretty stoked about that, even if it was only the inside of the airport in Portugal that I saw.  While in the airport I was able to really get to know the people I would be spending my next four months with.  Each one of them seemed like great people and it made the adventure even more exciting.  I was also able to make new friends from Valencia, Alicante, and Madrid.  Despite the vast language barrier, we were able to understand each other and enjoy one another’s company. 

Finally, after only about four hours in Portugal, we were able to board our plane and head to Madrid.  We arrived in Madrid around eight at night; we only suffered a nine hour delay!  Once I stepped outside the airport my body filled with excitement.  Snowflakes were falling, trees were covered in blankets of snow,  and the smell of fresh air lightened my head.  My roommate, Jen, and I grabbed a taxi and headed to our new home together. 

The taxi driver seemed a little bitter having to drive us all the way to Alcala de Henares so he didn’t speak much to us until we had to pay him.  He stopped in front of our apartment complex and from a window on the third floor we see a woman yell out “Hola Allison y Jennifer!” 
We quickly gathered our luggage and paid the taxi driver.  By the time we turned to look at the door our host mom, Maria Carmen, was standing there with arms wide open.  She greeted us with more excitement than I could have imagined.  She hugged us tightly and gave each one of us about fifty kisses on each cheek. (no exaggeration!) 

After the most inviting welcome ever, she anxiously took us upstairs and showed us our rooms.  We each have our own room with bed, desk, bookshelf, closet, and window.  While we unpacked, she prepared dinner.  Jen found a brand new blow-dryer in her closet and I found a brand new hair straightener in mine.  We asked Maria Carmen if she misplaced them and she said we were silly and that they were gifts for us.  Jen and I looked at each other and new we had the best host mom out of everyone! 

After dinner, we asked Maria Carmen if she could take us outside to play in the snow because neither one of us had ever seen snow before.  She gladly said yes and we all ran to put our coats on.  She led us downstairs and outside to the little courtyard of the apartment complex.  There, all three of us took in the beautiful white snow everywhere.  We all threw snowballs at each other and tried to make snow
angels.  It was our first day with our host mom and we already knew we loved her and Spain.  It was the perfect ending to the worst flight ever! 
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