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Haz el bien, y no mires a quién. -Spanish Proverb


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aerial views

I’ve flown in and out of Bilbao more than a dozen times, but today the view from the plane window was unlike any I’ve seen before. As we took off at 6:45 this morning, the city was still lit up like night, but the sun was just starting to peek over the horizon, dimly lighting the coastline and mountains.

After all this time I’m able to easily identify each part of the city from the plane window based on the bends in the River Nervión. Now on the brink of sunrise, the bends can be seen as outlined by the evenly spaced lamps along the promenade, and I think of the hundreds of miles I’ve run there.

running around river bends in central Bilbao

running around river bends in central Bilbao

I see the blinking lights from the Iberdrola Tower, Bilbao’s lone skyscraper, and I think of the way it’s shiny exterior seems to reflect the sky in a different way every time I see it.

I identify the surrounding beach towns (Algorta, Sopelana, Gorliz…) based on their various unique curvatures of the coastline, and I think of the surf lessons, never-ending beach days with friends and the countless times I’ve sat and watched the sun sink into the water from one of the many perfect perches along the coast.

a fall sunset in Sopelana

an autumn sunset in Sopelana

I see the lights from the Puente Colgante transporter bridge, and I think of my days as a student here when I lived just down the street from the historical bridge, back when even just Getxo felt like a big place to me. I think of how fortunate I was this year to have had the chance to return to this neighborhood for my work.

Puente Colgante

Puente Colgante

I see the mountains that tuck Bilbao into its seaside nest, and I think of the many hiking excursions and the excitement I feel after hiking up a mountain to get a new perspective on the surrounding landscape.

taking a breather after climbing Vizcaya's steepest peak: Monte Anboto

taking a breather after climbing Vizcaya’s steepest peak: Monte Anboto

No matter how much I fly, it never ceases to amaze me how small the whole thing looks from the plane. This tiny-looking little world that once felt so big to me has become the perfect-sized place I’ve been so fortunate to call home for the better part of the last three years.

I didn’t board the plane feeling ready to leave this place today. But I don’t know if I could ever feel that way. A place that becomes so deeply a part of you is a place you will never be able to say goodbye to forever. So although I don’t know when or in what context, I’ll be back, Bilbao.

Hasta la vista.

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’twas the night before Spain

Tomorrow I will embark upon the longest journey of my life to date. I will get on a plane just a few hours from my home, but when I land I will be 4,500 miles away. In a different time zone. A different world. I have told many of my friends and family in recent days that the stress and nervousness has been outweighing the excitement, but that is soon to change. What’s packed is packed, what’s done is done. Now I just have to get on the plane and begin to soak up each moment

My feelings tonight are reminiscent of those I had the night before leaving for my first study abroad trip– a summer program in Costa Rica. One thing I loved most about my entire experience there was that each morning, it was so easy to get out of bed because I knew that a brand new day of great adventure lay ahead. The adventures were both big (zipline tours, surfing) and small (exchanging money, conversing with locals), but all incredibly valuable and stimulating. I savor each and every memory from my month spent there. Even the times that were frustrating, scary or difficult I remember fondly because they were such valuable learning experiences. I’m thrilled to have five entire months to be immersed in a new culture. Five months to call a new place home. Now THAT is pretty rad.

Saying goodbyes has not been fun. I have never been away from friends and family for this long, and I know it won’t be easy. Thank goodness for all of the ways modern technology allows us to stay in touch, even across oceans! I will close tonight with a short video clip of two fluffy friends I will miss very much, my sister’s corgis: