I LOVE YOU LEO A. DESTINATION SOMEWHERE

I LOVE YOU LEO A. DESTINATION SOMEWHERE by Rosa Aneiros

After university, Leo is due to go travelling for six months with her friends Aldara, Inés and Martiño, but at the last minute her friends pull out and Leo is left to travel on her own. Her first stop, in Lisbon, Portugal, is a rain-soaked disaster. She is dragged around the city by her overbearing host and only really gets a feel for the city during the final few days, when she is cooped up in his apartment. But everything changes with her next destination, Barcelona, where she meets up with a group of friends from Latin America who call themselves ‘Ruth & Co.’ and busk for a living. Romance, excitement, frustration, appalling and luxurious living conditions, familiar and foreign cultures, follow as Leo travels to Granada, Córdoba, Seville and Cádiz in Andalusia, Marrakesh in Morocco and finally Istanbul. In this first instalment of Leo’s travelling adventures, Leo discovers that she must learn how to leave a place before she can truly enjoy her experiences, and how travelling can bring you back full circle. She is also mystified by the graffiti that keeps appearing along her route: ‘I Love You Leo A.’ Who is it that has scrawled this graffiti wherever she goes, and what do they want? Only by continuing with her journey and not giving up will Leo find out the answer to this riddle!

Chapter 1

@ALeo90

I still can’t believe it. I’m off, off, off!

My journey around the world in 182 days

is finally starting.

8 January 2011 at 16:12

 

Leo went through the security archway with far too much insecurity in her feet and restless pumping in her heart. That may be why the civil guard ordered her to take off her boots and passed the metal detector over her nervous body. Had it been able to measure her heartbeat, that little device would most probably have exploded as soon as it reached her chest. But it didn’t explode, possibly because such instruments know nothing about the comings and goings of the soul. Meanwhile, the X-ray machine was closely examining the contents of her rucksack. The rucksack didn’t seem exactly comfortable with its contents. It had gone from carrying sheets, folders, books and notes to holding lists of Internet addresses, descriptions in different languages, a passport, a brand-new debit card, some socks and a scarf.

‘No jeans, make sure you put on some comfortable leggings, because long journeys require you to be particularly comfortable. And watch out for the air conditioning! Always have a scarf ready to protect your throat.’

Aunt Cris’ words clashed violently in her head with her mother’s advice:

‘Call whenever you can. And if you ever wish you hadn’t left, catch the first flight home. The first flight, understand?’

Not the second or the third, her mother went on, but the first flight home. She still hadn’t made it through the security archway and her mother was insisting on the need to return.

But Leo didn’t turn back. Instead, she took a look around and sighed. Finally. She couldn’t believe the day had arrived. A tear appeared on one of her eyelids and she knew it was as a result of emotion, though whether it was down to enthusiasm at achieving her dream, or remorse, she still couldn’t say. She had six months in front of her to find out. Six months!

She again went over the essential luggage in her mind – passport, debit card, student card – and admitted the last few months hadn’t been easy for anyone. All those around her seemed to have been touched by the magic wand of tragedy. Can you imagine! She thought most of the adventures would take place on her journey, but she learned that sometimes everything happens just before you leave. Her preparations had turned into a whirligig of meetings and mix-ups, and her monotonous, stable life furnished with family, friends and studies had suddenly decided to jump into a 55-litre backpack. She had felt the betrayals constantly bumping into her euphoria but, against all expectations and contrary to what the undoubted plot had set out to achieve, she hadn’t gone back on her obsession.

As was to be expected, her mother had reacted indifferently to begin with, then with amazement and finally with something that, if it wasn’t resentment, was remarkably similar:

‘I can’t believe you’re doing this to me. I can’t believe it, Leo. Not you. What are you going to find out there, tell me, what are you going to find?’

Just in case her words hadn’t sounded convincing enough, when they left for the airport, her mother announced her father and brother would be coming along to say goodbye. So the last thing she saw on the other side of the security area was her mother’s impassive face, Roi’s wheelchair and her father’s crutches. However hard she tried, Leo could think of few things crueller than bringing along the whole family to remind her of her supposed constant selfishness. Her mother had always possessed the uncanny ability to poke around inside wounds.

‘Call whenever you can. And if you ever wish you hadn’t left, catch the first flight home. The first flight, understand?’

Leo saw through the blackmail and didn’t hesitate. She said to herself, ‘Come on, Leo, don’t give up now,’ and forced a smile. She’d borne the brunt of so many reproaches over the last few months that, if she hadn’t already repented, she wasn’t going to do so now. Not now. As the civil guard passed the cold metal detector over her body, Leo looked back at the airport lounge where her father, mother and Roi were slowly waving goodbye.

Roi winked and pretended to type in the air.

‘Yes, I know. I promise a tweet from every airport and bus or railway station. And if I don’t have time or can’t, at least a message from every city I visit. I promise, Roi.’

Of course, thought Leo, I’ll log into my email account and use Skype, but she swore she wouldn’t update her blog for all the tea in China. Nor her profile on Facebook. If somebody wanted to follow her footsteps around the world, then they should go with her and not stay sitting at home. Her resentment at the way her friends had suddenly pulled out formed a lump in her throat. She would just hang a remnant on the clothes line of Twitter from every point on the globe she set foot on, she said to herself again. A kind of smoke signal. I’m alive. I’m fine. That’s all.

If she hadn’t counted on those presences at the airport, she certainly hadn’t expected the absences. She couldn’t believe they hadn’t turned up. She couldn’t believe they couldn’t even do this for her. Neither Inés nor Aldara, not even Martiño, had turned up to say goodbye. How could they be such cowards? Such stupidly selfish cowards. Not even this, however, the thorn of her best friends’ betrayal, caused her to change her mind. The scanner showed her the amusing image of her most treasured belongings and the civil guard’s gesture indicated she was free to carry on. She should carry on.

She looked back for the last time. She smiled and blew an enthusiastic kiss. Her father, mother and Roi essayed a similar pretence of happiness and continued waving goodbye in a farewell that threatened to last for ever. Leo looked back and saw nobody else to embrace in the distance. She marched up the escalator leading to the departure lounge.

As soon as they were out of sight, both parties tried to cover up their tears as best they could.

The escalator sucked up any final trace of remorse.

 

Translated from Galician by Jonathan Dunne

Additional Info

  • purchase text:

    I LOVE YOU LEO A. DESTINATION SOMEWHERE by Rosa Aneiros, the fifth title in the series Galician Wave devoted to the best of Galician young adult fiction in English, is available for purchase through your local or online bookshop

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    ISBN: 978-954-384-040-3

    Publication Date: 28 September 2015

    Language: English

    Paperback: 272 pages

    Dimensions: 203 x 133 mm