We wake up an hour before the conference starts. More accurately, HG wakes up and I get up.
She runs out and grabs us two cups of joe, some bread, and a sandwich for me while I get dressed and quickly go over my presentation. Wolf it all down before dashing out the door.
I hoof it over to the Picasso Museum but promptly get lost. An Australian bartender sets me on my way.
Him: It’s over there, between those two buildings.
Me: The alley?
Him: (laughs) That’s a street, mate; alleys you can barely squeeze into here.
A few stressful minutes later, run into several people that heard me speak last year before I settle into an orange chair in the rear.
Her: Mr. Lo! How are you? (later) Hopefully it’s not as exciting as it was last year when that woman yelled at you.
Me: It wasn’t so bad; at least everyone remembers me.
Me: Technology has changed so much recently, especially since I was a kid, and probably the same for most people. For example, how old are you?
Her: um, 21.
Me: Well, I don’t have any examples for you then.
After several other presentations, it’s finally my turn.
Me: The First Amendment – Freedom of Speech – is what Americans are known for. Well, that and McDonalds.
Silence. Complete and utter silence.Then five seconds later, laughter.
I forget that they’re translating what I say into French and Spanish. Relieved, I continue and my jokes elicit the polite laughter I’m expecting. Soon, I smile and finish on time. No one screams at me.
Afterward, we’re at lunch where I end up sitting with some Germans.
Her: You taught yourself German because you couldn’t sleep? Why?
Me: Why not?
Waiters come with small sandwiches and olives. The olives are terribly bitter so I have a sandwich. It’s great – Spanish ham and a soft cheese.
So I have another. It’s blue cheese and tuna. I almost gag so I put it off to the side. Taking a bite of another, it’s different fish and cheese sandwich. Again, I almost gag.
Soon, I have a pile of half-eaten sandwiches on my plate and decide that bitter olives aren’t so bad after all. We Americans are so spoiled when it comes to food.
Bellies full, we head back to the conference but not before I realize that we were just noshing about 100 feet from a 2,000 year old Roman Theater.
Back inside, stay for the other American to finish her speech as a sign of solidarity but then I can’t stay awake for the second half of the presentations so I head back to the hotel to rest.
End up working on a few things instead of resting before I run back to the conference hall for drinks.
Outside, several wine tables are set up and I have a glass of white. Then a glass of red. Then a glass of a dessert wine.
Sommelier: What do you normally drink?
Him: Such a shame; we have none.
Me: That really is a shame.
Afterward, take a meandering walk back to the hotel as I take in the sights. There’s something beautiful everywhere.
The Spanish have this habit of having dinner at 10PM so they invite HG and me out to eat. Tell them it’s too late for us but, as luck would have it, I run across them as I head home. They insist I come in for a bite but I tell them I can’t as I give them a rueful nod.
After a pleasant night, have an agonizing night as I don’t sleep for more than an hour.
When I wake up, I look down at my hands and notice they’re shaking again.