Check out my latest piece for Roads and Kingdoms!
My latest piece for The GroundTruth Project and The World Report!
A piece I published with The GroundTruth Project on GlobalPost. Check it out.
Ah where do I begin? I’ve never been good at saying goodbyes. As someone who’s moved around and traveled their whole life, I’ve become so accustomed to saying goodbye to people I love the most and people I have just met. I’ve also become accustomed to the idea that I will see those people again. My best friend in the entire world, Emilie, and I said “see you later” to each other four years ago and we have met in three different countries since then. So with that in mind, I’m not too concerned about saying goodbye to the absolutely lovely people I have met on this reporting trip.
That being said, now that the time has come to a close and I’m beginning to decompress, (despite the dreadful paper I have yet to write #vomcity) I am starting to realize that a little part of my heart is left behind in that hellishly hot apartment in Madrid. The “Trapz House” and the “Trapz Queenz” became a small family. I’ve really loved looking over other people’s articles and blog posts and Carlene’s beautiful message to all of us. Everyone else is far better than I at verbalizing the trip’s end.
The beginning of the second portion of my journey was somewhat of a microcosm of my time on the reporting trip. I met my dear friend, Emilie and we ventured on a 1AM bus ride from Madrid to Valencia. The plan was to sleep on the bus so that when we arrived in Valencia at 5AM, we would not be completely destroyed. Unfortunately, the bus was filled with Spanish high schoolers that spent the majority of the ride screaming to each other and I wasn’t able to sleep a wink. When we arrived to Valencia, we waited for a few hours with our luggage for the sun to rise and for the stores to open. It was necessary to fuel myself with a cafe con leche as soon as possible. We left the bus station only to get disgustingly lost and give up and take a cab to our apartment. Our host wasn’t able to meet us for a few more hours so we parked on the bench and I slept for a bit. After a short snooze, I found a cafe that had opened, and from my memory, mustered up enough language capability (no language of mine was functioning at this point) to order an egg sandwich. That sandwich was our shining beacon of hope that things would progress in the right direction. Naturally, our host was late because we are in Spain and it is a governmental law to be late to everything. But, we had a home.
Although Emilie and I were dangerously crabby and Em suffered a sunburn of a lifetime after tragically falling asleep on the beach…we survived. And we came out the other end stronger, smarter and closer to each other- much like the infamous reporting trip. While enduring the many struggles of the trip itself, there were layers of ailments and complaints to follow. But now, standing at the precipice looking back, I’m so happy it happened.
Missing you all already.
While traveling from city to city and continually bonding, my roommate and I carried a game I had learned from a friend back home. The objective of the game is to come up with band names but the catch is the phrase has to come up in conversation. Morgan and I were the main players but there were several additions made to our list from our fellow journos as well as Carlene and her husband, Geoff.
Here it be:
Casual Carcass (All vegan band)
U-Turn At Buckingham Palace
Hell in Florals
Thank you to all who participated!
My friend and fabulous photographer, Maria, and I first went to Patio Maravillas to report without any idea of what the building was or what it meant. While we waited for No Somos Delito, the Spanish organization famous for the first hologram protest against the impending ‘gag law,’ to begin their meeting, we sat in the bar downstairs. As we sat with our beers and looked around, the quirkiness of the building sinked in. We kept saying “This place is so cool” and “I love it here.” The bar and building was decorated with graffiti and furnished with an amalgamation of mismatched tables and chairs.
She and I needed to use the bathroom at one point. We came to find two stalls that were only covered by either half a door (Maria’s stall) or half of a shower curtain (my stall). In order to maintain some of our dignity, we talked to each other very loudly over us using the toilets.
I remember saying, “This looks like a place where the okupa people would hangout.” Maria and I had wanted to do a story on the okupa movement but had found it nearly impossible to contact them. The okupa movement is a movement of people or ‘squatters’ that occupy empty buildings that have been evicted. At the time, we didn’t know we were in essentially the Mecca of okupa.
A few days later, this building which turned out to be a cultural center for the community and an occupied building, was boarded up and everyone was evicted. But Maria and I have some fond memories in that building from before that happened.
It was a pretty cool experience to have been in this building where several activist groups had gotten their start, including the political party Podemos. The group that I was interviewing, NSD, forced me to take part in their improv practice. I mean really forced where I needed to speak both English and Spanish. But it was a blast and we came out of it with that hysterical picture of me dance-jumping.
The few times that Maria and I were in Patio Maravillas gave us just a taste of how colorful the building was and really how kind the people who occupied the building are. Squatters often carry a negative stigma and I was happy to learn otherwise from personal experience.
The community has been evicted but they quickly occupied another space after a lengthy protest against the eviction. Long story short, watching people fight for something so tirelessly, even if that thing may be illegal, is pretty incredible.
Rain and lower temperatures in Madrid are a gift. This morning while waiting for the rest of our fellow journalists to slosh into the makeshift-newsroom, we made a list of songs to accompany the pouring summer rain.
Note: I did not say it was a good playlist.