I think I can make this story into at least a trilogy, and I feel like I'm running out of stories so I need to draw this out as long as possible. During my senior year of high school a group of us took an epic trip to Spain that would forever change our lives. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience. There are things that happened there that I'm not necessarily proud of, but I would not take back one moment of that trip. At least I don't believe I would since I can't remember one of the evenings. And so the story begins...
When I began high school I knew that I would like to accomplish was to learn another language. I found that Spanish would be the most useful. Plus French was the only other language offered at my school, and I sure as hell wasn't going to waste my time learning that garbage! There were 3 Spanish teachers at the school, but as I progressed through school I continually had the same teacher. Many of us that were in her class continued on, because she was such a great teacher. By our junior year we discovered that there was actually never a Spanish 4 class offered at the school. We talked to her and convinced her to create a Spanish 4 class so that we could all continue to learn under her tutelage. Essentially, she was our Mr. Feeny.
As our senior year began, we had a brilliant idea during one of our Spanish classes. The class should take an exhilarating trip to Spain! Mrs. Wilkinson, our wonderful teacher, said she would be more than happy to look into the prices and information regarding using a student travel agency for this trip. It all fell into place from there. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to make the trip from our class, but a great majority did. I believe the head count consisted of 3 males and about 20 females. This could only lead to good results one would assume. Mrs. Wilkinson and her husband were the only chaperons for this affair.
Once Spring Break approached we took off on our soon-to-be epic journey overseas. As we were on our flight, an event occurred that would make for a much more intense trip. That day was the day that Iraq was first attacked the the US. The reason I mention this detail is because it would lead to one of the craziest days of my life.
We arrived in Madrid early that next morning. Nobody from our group had an idea of the events that had transpired in Iraq, but we would soon discover this event had in fact occurred. As we exited the subway, and proceeded out the tunnel to downtown Madrid, the group saw a gigantic protest happening in the town square. Signs were held up by angry Spaniards. The one that I will always remember stated in Spanish "We hate Americans, I love Bin Laden." At that point I realized that this was a sticky situation to be in. There we were, with our baggy pants and New Era hats on. The Americans stuck out like sore thumbs. The outcasts took a seat outside at a restaurant and watched the madness ensue. Angry protesters would march by, and upon seeing us start chants that did not sound very friendly. Being the fool that I am, I attempted to join them in some of their hostile chants, though that did not seem to please members of the mob as they passed us.
Eventually we moved on to our hotel, which was amazing. All the hotels we stayed at during our time there were 4 or 5 star hotels. It was truly an amazing experience. That night the group ventured into downtown Madrid to explore the area. We split up into smaller groups and went our own ways. That is the point when things really began to get real. Since some of our crew consisted of the 18+ crowd we were able to secure some alcohol. We were told at the outset of the trip that drinking would not be allowed, but obviously that would not hold up. Quickly a small group of us downed a bottle of vodka. Then the fireworks began. Many of the smaller groups had combined to form a large pack now.
The two other males accompanying me on the trip had gone into a bar to utilize the facilities. While I waited outside with a herd of females I suddenly heard the sound of glass smashing everywhere. A riot had begun in downtown Madrid. People were racing around wildly and bottles were smashing everywhere. As I waited out there I began to hear the sound of police sirens, and the ladies huddled into a large doorway. By large I mean it was huge as there were a good 10-15 of us. Suddenly a brigade of policemen came around the corner and the ladies backed further into the doorway and I was actually gently shoved out into the road in front of them. It's always good to be amongst a group of friends you know will be there for you! As I stood in the road alone I stared at numerous policemen pointing their guns down the street at me. Now, I don't want to sound too dramatic, because I believe they were likely only shooting beanbags at individuals, but it's still not a comforting feeling. Drunk fool I am, I simply raised my hands in surrender. A few moments passed and they continued on their way to find the source of the riot.
Once the other fellows joined us outside, the crew decided it was time to reunite with the chaperons and company. Upon finding them we were all quickly ushered towards the taxis. Each male was assigned a group of ladies to ride in the cabs with back to the hotel. My cab ride back did not seem out of the ordinary though the taxi drivers are menaces to society out on the roads. However, another cab received quite the outspoken cab driver. I was informed they were told something to the extent of, "You OK, Bush..." and he proceeded to give the throat slashing gesture toward them. Luckily, we safely reached the hotel in one piece and our trip could continue. This was only the first night of one of the greatest weeks of my life. The rest is to follow...