Last weekend I celebrated a night out in Mahon with my flatmates. Drinks, a little dancing and attempts at socialising with drunken Spaniards. A typical evening here in Menorca. I chose to leave the party early at about midnight but that left me alone in a city I’d previously only visited during the day. I chose to write down my thoughts as they came, providing an interesting stream of consciousness that I would like to share with you guys.
You know what’s exhausting right now? (Other than everything else I’ve complained about so far). Being a young girl. Being a young girl with long blonde hair. Now why, why, why is this such a big deal here in Spain? I don’t want to think that the colour of my hair changes anything or makes me more vulnerable but when I’m walking through a town, especially at night, I feel like there’s a target on me. A neon flashing sign saying ‘this girl is not from this country’. I can feel the eyes of men following me wherever I go and when I look back to see if this is the case I get gestures to compliment the stares. Now I am writing this post at 11:55pm from an empty bus station as I wait for a night bus that right now I can’t see turning up. I’ve had to walk past men making comments, most of which I can’t understand and honestly, it scares the hell out of me. I am alone and I have no one to turn to right now if something should happen, in fact come to think of it I don’t even know what the emergency services number is here (what a rookie mistake). However I have taken a couple of extra precautions which relieve me somewhat and ensure that I am relatively safe and secure. First, a piece of advice, try to avoid going anywhere alone during the middle of the night. Now that sounds like an obvious one but when you’re so used to doing things alone during the day, the night doesn’t seem so different. But there’s a reason all the horror stories take place in cover of darkness, something that I can’t help but remind myself over and over again. The instant I started to feel uncomfortable, I separated all my belongings, some stayed in my bag, some in my back pocket and some in the pocket of my coat. This means that if one of these objects was snatched away from me, I’d at least still have some money plus either my phone, keys or credit cards. I also made sure people knew where I was going, straight to the bus station and then back to my house, this way people would know where to find me if necessary. Alongside this, always have a back-up plan, I made note of where an empty taxi was waiting just in case the bus doesn’t show up like I expect it won’t. (Note that this contradicts what I said before in terms of informing my friends of my plan which slightly concerns me as no one will know that I’ve got into a taxi rather than a bus).
I have five minutes left before my bus is supposed to leave, the board above me mentions no note of a night bus and the station is abandoned. I have no hope of finding my friends as they have moved onto a different bar that I can’t remember the name of. I have managed to get myself into a terrible position for a night out I never really wanted to be a part of anyway.
Three minutes. I researched this bus both online and on the bus station signs so this isn’t a case of bad planning, but who knows maybe I’m being dramatic, but at the end of the day (quite literally) I am relying on this as my mode of transportation home at 12:10am.
And there we have it, no bus has turned up, we’ll give it a couple more minutes and then we’ll just curl up in a ball and cry. And then find a taxi.
I’m in a taxi, about to spend another €20 I don’t need to spend but hey, what can we do when other forms of public transportation let us down????
Okay so the taxi only cost me €10 but that’s not the point, I’m allowed to be mad.
What I’m trying to say with this post really is that improvisation is an inevitable part of living alone and in a new country. You just need to have a clear head and not panic. Every country is similar in terms of basic public transportation and knowing full well that on a Saturday night there will always be taxis out and about means that you won’t be stranded anywhere for very long. Just make sure you have the necessary emergency funds and be aware of your surroundings.
Back to the present
Please be aware that I was in a very bad mood that night and Spanish public transportation is usually very punctual, much more so than in Britain. I’ll never know whether the bus showed up, half an hour late isn’t much a stretch where I come from but in the situation I was in I wasn’t willing to wait that long.
It’s such a shame that my hair draws so much unwanted attention to me, but blonde hair is a novelty here and that’s something I’ve had to get used to wherever I go. Luckily the tourists are starting to show up which will either make me a bigger target as people are expecting foreigners with expendable money to be wandering the streets or hopefully the attention will die down with more blondies among us. I guess we’ll just have to see (and hope) for the second option.
On a more positive note, it was St George’s day on Sunday which meant the Giants (Los Gigantes) came out to play. I’ve been waiting for the Giants since the day I arrived and I came across them merely by accident. In Menorca they refer to this day as St. Jordi and many know it as the ‘day of the books.’ On this day men typically give roses to the women and woman give books to the men. The history of this being that from the blood of the dragon that George killed to save the princess came a rose that he then gifted to her. It’s a beautiful story really. Shame I learnt more about it here than I did in England, considering it’s the patron saint of my own country. But Spain is good for multiple things and celebrating is one of them.
I hope to start posting more regularly now that I’m back in Spain and summer is kicking in. Big changes are being made both in my online world and real world so we’ll have plenty of things to catch up on soon!
Lots of love, Lottie xoxo
P.s. Want to see all these things as they take place? Follow my snapchat: Charlotteraeee