One of the things that always makes me feel like a real local… is going for a run. Jogging along with other native folks, sweating just the same, definitely has a non-tourist feel to it. Of course, don’t get the wrong impression—that I’m some kind of perfect die-hard runner—nothing could be further from the truth. I have only gone running a handful of times during my whole entire trip. That’s pretty pathetic when I think about how I would run or go to the gym back home at least three times a week (okay, on good weeks). But, hey, I did cycle nearly the entire length of Vietnam and the amount of walking and hiking I’m doing is incomparable to my old daily life of sitting behind my computer cooped up in the caverns of a TV station studio or editing room all day long. Not to make excuses, but I did have an unfortunate ankle-twisting situation months ago back in Melbourne, Australia after one too many glasses of wine and some steep stairs to the bathroom. This put me off of running for awhile especially since my ankle looked like a mango for a few months.
So, now that I got a brand spankin’ new ipod for my birthday (thanks mom!) and my ankle has had six months to heal—I figured I’d run (no pun intended) out of excuses. Plus, thankfully Claudia dragged me out to run in Cologne and I couldn’t believe we ran about 6 or 7 kilometers… something I rarely do.
So here I was jogging along the palm-tree lined streets of Valencia, Spain. It was beautiful. It was warm. And the centuries-old architecture was distracting me from the fact that I hate running.
And then, I saved a life. Oh yes, you heard me. On a busy boulevard I noticed a car was stopped in the middle of the street beeping its horn. I thought they were saying ‘hola’ to an older woman who was standing in the grassy median while her dog did his ‘business.’ Then the dog-woman started flailing her arms wildly and I got curious. I stepped off the sidewalk to have a look past the parked cars that were blocking my view. There, in front of the car, was a tiny grey kitty, stopped dead in his tracks full of fear. An animal in distress always sends me running (no pun intended)… so I jumped out into traffic (it was me or the cat) and shooed the little guy to the safety of the sidewalk. He darted under the parked cars and the four of us (the dog walker, the car passengers, myself, and, of course, Señor gato) let out a sigh or relief, exchanged waves and smiles and went on our way. No one spoke a word, but it was nice to see we were all on the side of the cat. And, in some odd way, I felt like a member of their society and not just a jogging tourist.