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The Borderless Country

The Spanish Prisoner

SPAIN | Thursday, 15 May 2014 | Views [216] | Scholarship Entry

"How did I end up with this tiny room," I thought, still delirious from my flight, as my handler dropped my bag on the ground with a thud.

"There's no window," I noted to the concierge.

I had just arrived in Barcelona. The sky was overcast as we drove towards the city. Spanish shutters adorned the windows and balconies of the apartment buildings. My mind thought of Hemingway, bullfights, wine, cigarettes. It was August.

The concierge went over to the wall and opened a rectangular metal lid that looked like it was the cover to a fuse box. A small opening was revealed that exposed the inner shaft of the building that went up to the roof. He closed it as my mind reeled in horror.

On the right side of the room, a bed was squeezed between the wall and radiator. There was a worn wooden desk next to the bed under the "window". To its left, a sink and mirror. Then there was a closet in the corner, as it wasn't nearly cramped enough in this broom closet.

"Are there any other rooms available?"

I was told when one opened up, then I could switch. My anxiety began to heighten. I've been in tight squeezes before, but could I live in this box for the next 5 weeks?

I immediately went out to take in the city and stayed outside for as long as I could, but slowly a feeling of dread began to swell. At some point I had to return to the room. I eventually became so tired I didn't care. I needed to sleep. It would be better after a good night's sleep, right?

In a small space with a bright overhead light, it was stifling. I had showered but immediately began sweating. I didn't dare open the lid to the "window" in fear something would crawl in, so I turned off the light, and lay down. My feet touched the radiator. Good thing it was summer!

In the darkness the heat felt smothering and thick. There was no clock so I didn't know what time it was. I had a watch but had to turn on the light to see it. My mind raced. I tried to relax and breathe slowly. Soon sleep overtook me.

I woke up intermittently during the night, sweating profusely, and in desperation I opened the lid. A faint light streamed in piercing the darkness. Then a little air wafted in. I was able to breathe easier as the air loosened; the room opened up a little as the heat released its grip. Gradually the light increased as it got closer to morning. I began to feel at ease.

Over the next few days I adjusted to the quaint confines. Nothing ever crawled in as I initially feared, and I never did switch rooms.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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