Huelva, Spain, Monday November 28, 2016

After days of rain, the forecast for today is for “partially sunny” weather here in Huelva. That will be a relief after days of putting up with rain that has everything soaked.

I have no few pictures to post today, because I spent a good part of yesterday riding three different trains to get here, all the while looking out the window at flooded fields. It was dark and gloomy outside. I did have some interesting seat companions on all three trains, however.

I wrote yesterday about the Arab Muslim café where I ate breakfast and a recitation of the Koran was playing on the TV. Here’s a picture of the café. You cannot read the TV screen in the picture, of course, and even if you could, all there was to see was an image of the Koran with the text that was being recited shown in both Arabic and German translation.

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I got to the train station in Algreciras very early. I always seem to arrive everywhere early and panic if I think I’m going to be late. The following train is the one that was waiting to take me on the first leg of the day’s journey. The two men dressed in green are washing the train, although there seemed to be no reason to do it given that it was raining.

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A few stops after I got on the train in Algeciras (it was one of those trains that stops at every rock pile and outhouse), two Americans got on carrying enormous backpacks. One of them clumsily although unintentionally whacked me pretty hard with his backpack as he spun around while trying to find his seat. I said a few words to him in English, and hearing me speak that language, my new seat companion began speaking to me in fluent English with a heavy Spanish accent.

She worked for the Andalusian Tourist Board and spoke not only Spanish and English but also Italian and German. She had been to the Grand Canyon while on a business trip to Las Vegas, but like many European who visit the Canyon, she had no idea that she was in Arizona. She thought the Canyon was a Vegas suburb. Everyone in Europe knows more or less where the Grand Canyon is geographically located, but almost no one has every heard of Arizona or its capital, the sixth largest city in the USA, Phoenix. They do know the location of comparatively dumpy little towns like Las Vegas and San Diego.

We both got off in Bobadilla to change to different trains. I was starving, and I had time enough to run across the street in the rain to a café and have them make me a cheese sandwich to go in the Spanish style, which means using olive oil instead of butter or margarine. I ate it on the platform while waiting for my train.

On the second train, a young lady was sitting across from me furiously writing page after page in what appeared to be her journal. She was also wearing earphones connected to her cell phone. On the table between us she had a book in English, so when she finally stopped writing and took off the earphones, I spoke to her in my native tongue. She told me she was from Colorado and worked in Spain around Americans, but she didn’t seem to want to be specific about her job. After we had spoken awhile, she admitted that she is in the US Navy stationed in Spain. She added that she was not supposed to be open with civilians about being in the military due to terrorism threats. There are probably terrorist cells in every European country who would like to kidnap someone in the US military.

She got off the train in Dos Hermanas, two stops before the end of the line in Seville Santa Justa station, where I was to change trains. I was concerned, because I only had 16 minutes between trains and I didn’t remember the layout of the station. I needn’t have worried. I walked up the ramp from the train platform, and there was a screen showing the train departures. My platform was the very next one, and the train hadn’t even arrived yet.

My seat companion on the third train was a young female university student here in Huelva. Finally I had a chance to speak Spanish. She said she was from a small village that I would never have heard of. We spoke intermittently, because she kept getting interrupted by a bout of texting on her cell phone.

I walked the mile from the train station here to the youth hostel, in light rain. I am staying in a double room. My roommate is a Swede in his 50s who is trying to get permission to work in the USA. The subject of Donald Trump inevitably came up, and he said he was very happy with Trump’s election. He explained that he is a member of the Swedish anti-immigrant, right-wing Democrats Party, Sverigedemokraterna. He said he is strongly against immigration.

I couldn’t stop myself from asking him if he didn’t think it a contradiction that he is so strongly anti-immigrant and yet is trying to get a job in the USA. He couldn’t understand my point, “No, but I am going there to work.” I responded that most migrants are looking for work, just as he is, but he again protested that his case was different without being able to explain why. At that point I decided it was useless to discuss the point and changed the subject.

My apologies to Trump supporters, but I find over and over that those who back Donald Trump have a habit of not understanding logic and facts.

The hostel here is very large, very modern, and almost empty. I feel as if I am one of a handful of privileged guests in a modern hotel. I just took the following picture from the table where I am writing in the hostel’s covered courtyard. By this time of the morning, about 7:30 local time, more light should be coming through the translucent roof, but it is still very cloudy and dark outside. At least the forecast calls for no rain today and perhaps a few peeks at the sun.

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Well, they’ve just started serving breakfast, so I’m off for some chow.