Whew. So! Lemme tell you about the last few days!
So I’ve been on the hunt for an apartment. Me and my friends have been part of a group with a head start in apartment hunting, but it’s still very difficult to find an apartment even without the back to school rush of newcomers. For one, this is where I’ll be working throughout my time here:
So it’s somewhat crucial that I’m within an hour’s length of that single spot (in my case, it’s one or two, the school I’ll be teaching at is in-between both points).
How the search typically works here is via the almighty, “WhatsApp,” a cellphone application that you can message people through. As an American, I’m used to sending emails, not texting potential landlords, and yet every day, I would open WhatsApp on my phone, and start sending messages to numbers attached to apartments I saw.
A good 80% of the time, I was left on “Read.” Meaning that landlords saw my message, and just chose not to respond to it. I tried not to take it personally, but sometimes my brain did go, “Is it my profile photo? Is it all of this brown skin?” I can’t ever truly know, but it does happen, and I did think it!
Of the apartments I have seen, one brought me to the middle of nowhere, but really close to my school, four stops away. Cute studio, double-bed, private bathroom, but completely isolated with empty fields on all sides. I arrived there at 8am, just standing next to an empty Burger King, waiting for the landlady to pick me up. I saw about three cars the entire ten minutes I waited.
Interestingly enough, I had to talk myself out of that apartment.
Tina, you’re a loner by nature. If you get a studio, you will never, ever see the outside of your bedroom, you will never practice your Spanish, and you’ll waste all your time in Madrid under the covers in your room.
So onto the next.
This other place was alright, but it would have just been me and the landlady. She was 60+ years old, and she had a lot of rules. Keep it quiet, don’t stay out too late, no guests, but feel free to cook, sometimes she does yoga in the living room, so don’t be surprised if you see her teaching a class sometimes.
And also, if I wanted to participate, go ahead and hop in, it’s good for you.
While I liked this lady, I knew this apartment experience might be a bit stifling, so I said no to it as well.
After seeing this place, I started to get a little sick.
It started off very typically; coughing, sneezing, runny nose. But as someone who just got over pneumonia before leaving the country, I’ve developed a good sense when something is off (or I’m just paranoid now… I’m just paranoid now). I brought a thermometer with me, so I pulled it out and tested myself. 99 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Uh oh,” my roommate said, “You have a low grade fever. You’re definitely sick.”
The next day, I was sitting at 100 degrees. I had apartment viewings to plan, bank accounts to open, and Spanish drinks to drink, but I didn’t have the energy to do much at all. I slept all day, missed my Spanish class, and before I knew it, it was time for dinner.
The next day is where things went south…er. My fever wasn’t going anywhere, I was hot, as well as cold enough to shiver, I was sweating, coughing up things, and I was just generally getting worse. By the time the afternoon hit, so had the nausea, and then things got a lot worse.
I’ll save you the details, but from Friday to Monday, my life was a blur.
I had to go to the hospital. I went to a bilingual one, where, after yelling at my international insurance provider and paying for my visit out of pocket, they tested my blood, urine, temperature, and even took an X-ray of my torso. After hooking me up to an IV, my doctor strolled in and told me, “You have a virus. Eh colly?”
“E. coli,” my roomie and I said at once. The doctor nodded. “Yes, you will need to be on a strict diet, and have antibiotics.”
At this point, it’s nearly 2am. My roomie (who by the way, has been an absolute trooper being that she’s had to share a room with my invalid ass, coughing and sneezing and farting all over the place) says, “Is there a 24-hour farmacia nearby?” The doc says yes, and after drafting up my prescription, I hobble down the street behind her in a daze to the pharmacy.
24-hour pharmacies in Madrid sort of work like that door in the Wizard of Oz?
The doors are gated shut, but all the lights inside the building are on, and the bright green FARMACIA just keeps on flickering as if to say, We are so open, you don’t even understand how open we are!
But there is indeed, a bell. I press it, and a woman comes out of nowhere and opens a small window in the gate. I felt like Dororhy looking up at her and saying, “Necesito ….prescription?” I realize in that moment that I don’t know the phrase for, “to fill a prescription,” so I just hand her my hospital paperwork. She hands it back to me in under ten seconds, then closes the gate. My roommate and I just stand idly for a second, confused, but not going anywhere, when she comes back, opens the gate, hands me a lil’ box of pills and says, “2.5 Euros.” I pay, hail a taxi home, and go to bed. I have no idea what made me this sick.
It takes me about four days to get to the point where I can get out of bed and out the house. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so violently sick since high school when I caught the stomach flu. On one hand, I’d like to think that this makes me an official TRAVELER, because only people who travel often get stomach bugs and parasites, right? BUT ON THE OTHER HAND,
This past year has been a gauntlet of random illness here, pneumonia there, why can’t I catch a break? What is my immune system doing? Wasting it’s time being allergic to pollen, probably. This is ridiculous!
I was even sick on my birthday. ON MY BIRTHDAY. Me and Beyonce were supposed to go out that night in Italy, but nooooo, where was I? In BED. SICK.
Long story short, I ended my pound the pavement apartment search early and just “booked” an apartment via the website Uniplaces. It felt like cheating, but when you can’t get out of bed for four days and have four days left to find an apartment before you get kicked out into the cruel, cruel Madrid desert, you just find a spot and settle for it immediately.
From the looks of it, my apartment isn’t half bad. I’ll tell you more when I see it.
For now, I’m going to enjoy this break that I’ve earned, and relax. Right after I take my next antibiotic.