This is the first day I’ve spent an entire day working in a city while doing the Camino, and I’ve enjoyed the experience throughly. It feels as if all the times I’ve moved within Madrid have been lessons in quick adaptation, and the training has been fruitful. In the end, when life fits in a backpack, moving to a different neighborhood is not all that different from moving to a different city.

I had a good productive day, starting with mass in the morning, then work at the library, a picnic at the pool, then back to the library. I was thinking “this is wonderful, I can repeat this routine and remain in Cervera while I’m productive. When I get bored, I’ll simply walk until the creative urge strikes again”.

Then, as usually happens in moments of certainty, somebody throws a wrench into the gears and makes your platonic ideas fizzle away: a young woman walked up to the bookshelf next to me, and started pulling out travel guides on Mexico. She seemed unsatisfied with whatever she found in the guides.

I must be frank: I was terrified. Should she be anyone with whom I held no romantic interest I wouldn’t have hesitated one second, but this was like jumping into a freezing pool. My mind was racing “I’m too nervous, I’ll seem creepy, what do I say after ‘excuse me’”. Finally I cleared my throat “excuse me… are you going to Mexico?”

She turned around and smiled excited “yes! why? are you Mexican?” and conversation just flowed naturally from there…

—“oh you’re going to Chiapas! I’ve been there, I wish I could tell you all about it but this is not a good place, how about getting a coffee?”
—“I’d love to, but I can’t now, how about tomorrow?”
—“Yeah, sounds great! How shall we do…”
—“Let me give you my number…”

I was left in a daze. It felt like I hadn’t done anything. There was neither pride nor regret. I had just been myself and she had been herself and it was natural that we should meet up afterwards.

I was left (positively) emotionally shaken, and I found no concentration to be able to continue work. So I came back to the monastery to calm my nerves by drawing. The feelings settled into serenity, and I was glad to have broken a two year stall on romantic first-steps.

Later at night, she texted me to change the plans: she had told a Mexican couple about me, and they wanted to meet me, so they proposed dinner at their house. I enthusiastically accepted, of course. My only problem is that the monastery/albergue’s doors close at 10pm. And here I am feeling like Cinderella.