Right now, I’m sitting in a bar in Castrojeriz having a café con leche while using my iPhone’s translator app to figure out how to ask the bartender if the farmacia is open today, Sunday. It’s working, but understanding the response is rather challenging.

No one speaks English in here. I told the local sitting next to me, thanks to the app, that I wished I knew Spanish and that I would learn before I return to Spain the next time. This is how it looks on my app, Me hustaria que saber a espanol. Voya aprender antes de que viniera la proxima vez. I have no idea if I pronounced it correctly though – likely not.

You can get by with only English here, but it would be much more meaningful to be able to converse with these people and learn about their lives. This journey has inspired me.

The locals have been very nice and are trying to help me. The bartender told me the farmacia opens at 10:00 a.m., in 45 more minutes. My plan is to purchase some anti-inflammatory cream to put on my leg. Maybe the pharmacist can also show me how to wrap my leg properly.

To prepare, I have been studying my little Spanish phrasebook/dictionary while sitting at the bar and then typing what I want to communicate into my iPhone’s notebook. Here is one Spanish sentence I have prepared, Necesito algo para mi pierna por favor which means in English, I need something for my leg please.

Ok, time lapse! Now, there are a bunch of children hanging out in the bar.

There are ten of them between the ages of four and twelve. They are so great! Three girls came over to say hello to me and then a few of the boys came over.


I gave out a few more Canada pins and maple leaf tattoos. They were definitely a hit! A little boy even gave me a high five and another happily showed me the back of his hand where he’d stuck a tattoo. The bartender smiled, pointed at my pins and pinched his collar, so I gladly pinned a flag there for him as well.

My conversation with the children has been fun and enlightening. They are all learning English in school so they gathered around and asked me questions about what it is like in Canada. I described the mountains, the snow in the winter and how nice it is in the summer.

They told me much about themselves as well. The girls love Justin Beiber. They are all from Madrid and are here in Castrojeriz on vacation for the weekend; however they are going home this afternoon – back to school tomorrow.

I asked them what they aspire to be when they grow up. One of the girls wants to be singer or an actress and another girl, a doctor or surgeon. One of the boys was keen on being a veterinarian and two others want to be a primary school teacher and an architect. There was even an aspiring soccer player in the mix. Wow! There is lots of ambition here!

It’s interesting to see the activity in this bar. The interaction between the locals, bartender and children is so family-like and warm yet this is the same environment that is considered taboo for children to set foot inside of back home.

A small boy of maybe four years kneeled on a bar stool giggling while the bartender teased him. It’s normal in this culture for children to be here.


It’s been a very enlightening morning and to think I would have missed this if not for my shin splint. I guess you could say my ailment was a blessing. Now off to the farmacia!