Monday, March 29, 2010

heART Attack

It had been a long trip. Over 24 hours had passed since we had left New Mexico.  Now all that stood between us and what would be our "home" for the next 10 months was the final taxi drive.  As we zig-zagged through the streets of Murcia, I couldn't help but wonder what we would find at the end of our journey.  The director of the Teacher Exchange Program had warned us against including a house exchange in the job swap, but if Lily was to make it in the United States, on her Spanish Teacher's salary, we would have to swap homes as well as jobs.
We had met Lily and Elmer back in New Mexico and they seemed like a nice enough couple.  Their enthusiasm about the our house made me wonder what their place was like.  My curiosity was about to be satisfied as the taxi driver slowed down and announced our arrival.  We slowly crawled from the air-conditioned taxi into the dog days of summer.  The sun had set hours ago, but we were still attacked by a ferocious heat.  As my feet touched the ground I could almost hear the soles of my shoes sizzle.
We stood at the edge of the pathway and took a deep breath.  We both expressed our confusion simultaneously as we uttered, "Didn't they say they lived on the ninth floor?"  The building before us was only two stories tall.  We cautiously approached the building, and discovered that the apartment we were searching for was nonexistent--at least at this address.
There was nowhere for us to turn for help.  We didn't have a map to clarify our location and the streets were empty; summer vacation had not yet ended and the locals were still down at the beach escaping the sweltering temperatures.  We slowly melted onto the steps.  A silent anger filled the air.  After a few moments, Mark pointed out that there only seemed to be one tall building in the area and it was several blocks away.  Our journey was not yet terminated and we began to haul our overstuffed luggage down the street.  With each step the sweat stains around our necks and arms grew.  The stream of curses that came from my mouth were endless.  I was too tired and it was too hot to be wandering the streets in search of our new home.
After what seemed like hours we arrived at the door of the towering building.  To our relief, the keys slid into the lock and we were able to enter the foyer.  We cautiously loaded our luggage into the rickety elevator.  Unfortunately, we couldn't fit everything in on one trip, so we slowly went up one at a time.
I stood outside the apartment door anxiously waiting for Mark.  When he arrived and opened the door our tour began.  Just on the left was a small bathroom.  To my relief there was a bathtub--I would not have to give up my weekly indulgence.  Across the hall was a small dark bedroom.  There was not much room, but no worries we weren't really people who spent much time in the bedroom.  The kitchen was clean and tidy.  The retro dining room set was cute and a nice "toque."  
Suddenly our tour was interrupted by the ringing of the phone.  I rushed down the hall and swept the wall in search for the light switch.  When I eventually found it, I froze in my tracks and my jaw hit the ground.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  There on the living room wall was an enormous elaborate wall painting.  I'm not talking about a nice framed painting of Guernica, but a huge spray painted mural that looked like it belonged in the New York Subway.  I was speechless as I looked at the graffiti covered wall.  I shook my head in disbelief as I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.
My shock was interrupted by the continuous shrill of the phone.  I picked up the receiver  and squeaked out a barely audible "diga."   I was greeted by Lily and a perky "Has llegado?"  I could only reply  "Don't you dare paint on my walls."


  1. Hi Maya, what an interesting experience. And my curiosity is peaked by the New York Subway graffiti like mural on their living room wall. I can't wait to hear more on this story...

    Have a great day today.

  2. Wow! what an experience and beginning. I can't wait to read more. I probably would have been in tears.

  3. Hi Kathy, I spent 10 months with a personal view of graffiti. Too bad it wasn't painted by a better artist--I know there are some wonderful graffiti murals out there, but the one in our living room wasn't one of them. I have a picture, but it is back in my storage unit.

    Hi Marta, it was a shock. I'm able to chuckle about it now, but at the time it was very traumatic.