I hated Tuesday afternoons as a kid. Why? Because NAPS. They were the worst. My mom made me take them before every Tuesday night meeting and I hated that! Six year olds have much better things to do than SLEEP. Rugrats wasn’t gonna watch itself.
But wow, how I came to appreciate them as an adult. For real. So, combine that sentiment with my longtime skepticism about jetlag. I don’t really believe in it; I think it’s very beatable. But man, was I in for a surprise when it came time to leave.
I had a theory. Since my flight was leaving so early in the morning local time, and I’d be arriving at 7am Barcelona time, I figured that if I slept very little the night before I left, I’d be nice and tired for the flight, so that I could wake up in Barcelona ready to take on the day.
So I carried on with that plan to get very little sleep the night before. Then I proceeded to get very little sleep on the airplane too. That wasn’t the plan.
So I landed in Barcelona on, let’s call it about 3 hours of sleep in what had been 19 hours of travel. Obviously that wasn’t ideal, but I figured I’d make the best of it.
I landed on the one year anniversary of my friend Ella’s move to Barcelona. We’d been friends over the years back in Orange County, so it was cool to be able to catch up with her while I was there. She was kind enough to set me up with a place to stay with a brother in her congregation who was my age. His name was Ruben and he was in the English congregation there in Barcelona together with Ella. He picked me up from within the city and showed me to his apartment.
So there I was at about 8:30am, still on 3 hours of sleep and finally with the opportunity to put my luggage down. Ruben told me he’d be going in service at 10. What else do I have to do right now? I thought. I’m sure most would say “sleep”. But that wasn’t my answer! I got dressed right away and hopped in Ruben’s car to head to service too.
It was at the meeting for service that I was able to reunite with Ella for the first time in over a year. I was also able to meet some other brothers and sisters there in the congregation, all of whom were super warm and welcoming.
Ruben and I went with two other brothers to do a bit of street work. While it was a bit of a slow morning, it was still nice to be back out in service and to be doing so in a city where I’d never preached before. I was looking forward to taking a brief siesta after this, but there was no time… right after service we changed and headed right out for a hike.
We met up with about a dozen other brothers and sisters from Ruben and Ella’s congregation and hiked up in an area about an hour outside of Barcelona called Matadepera. It was grueling from the get-go. Steep, sunny, rocky… the works. After about two hours of hiking, we got to a crucial point… do we continue or do we go back.
One sister explained, “We could go back to the cars and be there in 10 minutes if we go back, or it’ll be a 2 hour round trip to the next peak if we go forward.”
The group shared opinions. “I’m up for whatever!” I shared (not true).
“Ok, let’s keep going!”
“Sounds good!”(also not true).
Well here we were, locked into two more hours of hiking. The exercise was good, the trails continued to be intense, but it was all worth it. At one part we climbed up a stack of rocks with a tiny waterfall flowing through them, and climbed into a network of pitch black, wet caves. Have you seen Cloverfield? Remember the part where the friends are underground in a sewage system and those monsters come out and attack them. I was definitely ready for them to come and get me, and prevent me from seeing my momma in a few months. Fortunately that premonition proved false and I survived. We literally hiked above the clouds in time to catch an incredible sunset. It was a race against the sunlight, as by the time we got back to the cars it had gotten totally dark outside. But after 4 hours of hiking, I was super excited we’d done that. It was such a memorable experience, and definitely a testament to creation. However, I was starting to remember that my hike had lasted longer than the amount of sleep I’d gotten in the past 28 hours.
But time to charge! Ruben and I raced back home and showed up an hour and a half late (CPT alive and well) to our dinner plans with Ella and the rest of her group, out to celebrate her year anniversary of Barcelona living. We enjoyed a great dinner, and went to a cool bar afterward that had a real LA-speakeasy feel to it with some really awesome looking (and tasting) cocktails. We finished the night at an Irish style pub. But Barcelonans stay out late. Really late. By the time I got back to Ruben’s it was far into the wee hours of the morning. A quote my friend Khristian and I would use during our travels has often been “Sleep when you’re dead!” But after being awake for 33 out of the last 36 hours, I was finally, FINALLY able to get to sleep…
But not for long. The meeting was just after 12 noon the next morning, so it was time to rise, study the lesson, and get to the Hall. Here, I was able to continue meeting brothers and sisters, including a brother named Omar, whose family was originally from my area in Orange County. It was nice to come in contact with some more people from my area. It was great getting a chance to connect with those in the congregation, during the meeting and over a (really tasty and really cheap) Chinese lunch afterward.
The night was a bit interesting. I ended up being on my own for the night, as everyone happened to be busy. So I ended up doing something that I would probably never do back home… I basically took myself on a date haha! I went to a nice dinner and got myself some lamb and red wine, went on a nice romantic evening stroll, went and grabbed something to drink and danced. I showed myself a great time! Hey, I was in Barcelona on the weekend… I wasn’t gonna just let myself sit around and do nothing.
Between fancy drinks at the W Hotel in Barcelona, strolls down the expansive beach shore, and a final morning in service with Omar and my new friend Tom, my final day and a half in Barcelona did not disappoint.
I felt that this was a much better visit to Barcelona than those previous. I was quickly able to determine why. One, I was able to hang with locals–people who knew what they were doing, what places to go, and what to go see. Before I’d been with other travel buddies who were just as new to the area as I was. Two, I was able to connect with people in the congregation. Getting that taste of the brotherhood by being at the meeting and going out in service kept me feeling refreshed, since it’s such a big part of my normal routine.
And suddenly, a wave of stress was upon me. I was running, I was sweating and panting. Being late and rushing for a train is never fun. It makes for a decent laugh after, but in the moment, nothing else matters. Omar had taken me out to a really cool tapas bar, but we ran a bit close on time. But I made it. As I sat down in my seat, huffing, puffing and visibly stressed, the lady next to me spoke to me reassuringly that it was alright.
And she was right. I plopped down, threw in my headphones, and sat there with a huge grin on my face.
I was over-the-top excited for my train’s upcoming stop.