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An Unexpected Source of Wisdom

Sometimes I truly believe that before befriending one another or starting a relationship, people should take informal tests of compatibility. This theory would be also known to the crazy How I Met Your Mother fans out there as something along the lines of The Olives Variable. In other words, as an olives lover, you should, for your own good, befriend only these people who loathe olives so much that they would always kindly give them to you. Or vice versa, if you happen to have an irrational fear of olives, the other person should be able to enthusiastically and fearlessly devour them to save you.
Life, however, works in mysterious ways: I befriended that one person who is, no doubt here, as clueless and disoriented as I am. Funny enough, we would always decide to go on spontaneous trips together with no maps or plans whatsoever, which, as you could imagine, would always put us in interesting or even life-endangering situations.
If I had to rate my favorite stories about getting lost (and actually loving it!), this is how the unofficial chart would look like:
1) Desperately trying to get something to eat in Valencia.
Siestas are a well-known trademark of Spain. Yet, as a capital with booming social and economic life, Madrid has somehow managed to escape this cultural peculiarity. Therefore, before setting foot in Valencia we could not have imagined that one could be starving to death and there would not be a single restaurant to save them. This is how the otherwise gorgeous city turned into a test of our survival skills – we would be roaming its streets for hours (which at this moment looked to us as if they were taken out of a zombie apocalypse movie) and ask strangers if they knew of a place that was opened. Most of them would just shrug shoulders with sympathy and leave. But there was this amazing couple, probably in their fifties or so, who offered to walk with us until we found something. Well, we did not, but the conversation we had, be it in broken Spanish, was like a chicken soup for the soul.
2) Desperately trying to find a place to stay in Valencia.
Reading this, one would think that Valencia can be pretty horrible to its visitors. It was in fact a beautiful place, but, as I mentioned, I had crossed paths with the only human being as unlucky as I am: without knowing that a popular rally was to be held in Valencia this exact weekend, we decided to go there without having booked a hostel in advance. Because of the event, however, all beds were already taken. We needed to stop tens of people on the street and ask them for the closest hostel or hotel in the area. After many unsuccessful attempts, we were finally directed to a hostel that magically had two free beds. Maybe we are not that unlucky after all.
3) Getting lost in the wild nature.
It was my last day in Spain and I wanted to spend it hiking. So far, so good. We got on a train that took us to a little town close to Madrid from where we were supposed to start the hike. When we stopped a fellow mountaineer and asked her how to get to the most beautiful peak in the area, it turned out that we had it all wrong – the wrong train, the wrong stop, the wrong side of the mountain… However, the woman was very helpful and assured us that the place we had ended up in was just as beautiful as our original destination. With the initial panic gone, we started a friendly conversation that lasted for a good quarter of an hour (by far the longest and most relaxed conversation in Spanish I have had).

After all, the Olives Variable might be just a scam, a conspiracy to keep people from experiencing the most amazing and educational moments life can offer? And not that I find it very practical to form your philosophy of life based on television, but How I Met Your Mother seems to suggest the same. Take it or leave it.

Nadezhda, Madrid

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