Are You a Believer?

Shannon Sotomayor
April 15, 2016

The one place I promised myself I would travel to no matter what was Spain. With a surname like Sotomayor, how could I not visit the place of my heritage, of my family? So to Barcelona I went alone, my first solo travel experience. I planned to treat it as my last hurrah in Europe; a time I could use to try to wrap my head around saying goodbye to the culture, goodbye to the life I've created here, on my own terms. And I'll be honest, I was worried. I'm a nervous traveler under the best of circumstances, but this time I would be left entirely to my own devices. But this is where I can't help but laugh. 

Of course in the moments of being lost, dealing with the language barrier, navigating the Barcelona metro - in all of these moments where I felt completely lost in the world and caught in between where I wanted to be and where I was going - I always find someone. Someone reaches out. 

Now my mom would call this an angel. Most of the time I would call it a coincidence. Over the course of this trip I realized maybe there was something more special to it. 

After making friends with Norwegians and locals alike, I wasn't sure how to spend my last day until my new friend Adrian offered an idea. 

"Well you want the authentic experience, right? Well I know all the places, I'll take you around. Meet me in the afternoon."

Adrian works at the hostel I stayed at. His dad is Italian, his mother Argentinian, and he himself is a world traveler. 

He said, "When you're family history is from one place, the people are very connected to their land and feel that's where they belong. But when you've got an international history, you realize that you belong to all of the cultures. And that allows you to be curious about all places. So I'd say I belong to One World. Not a nation."

Adrian took me to Sagrida Familia, to El Born - the old town neighborhood, to local Spanish/Italian restaurants, to handmade ceramic shops, and finally to the Santa Maria Cathedral. As we strolled the length of the pews, the sun piercing through the deep blues and reds of stained glass, he asked me, "Are you a believer?"

"In God? Well, I believe in something special. I believe that something about the world and the people is special. But that's as much as I need."

And why shouldn't I believe in that? In all of my vulnerability as a person alone, traveling, even as a young woman particularly, I have experienced such kindness and comfort in all of my travels, especially in Spain. I have been greeted by new, but warm faces. New friends met in shared, hostel bunkbeds, at seedy technicolor bars, and along the stretch of the beach kissed by the Mediterranean Sea.

How much luckier could I truly get?

Once Adrian and I said our goodbyes, he told me, "I'm sure I'll see you again. You've got the curiosity for the One World."

So here's to believing in that.


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<p>I was once told that acting is professional lying. But in my work and in my art I&#39;m constantly reminded that we&#39;re all looking for truth, whether that be the simple truth of a friend&#39;s laughter or the truth of a moment in time. And that&#39;s why I&#39;m here, to find a little bit more. I&#39;m sure I&#39;ll come across something.</p>

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