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For the week of May 17 through May 23, 2000

Runaway rents pad
in Spain


"Eat corn flakes and hot water. It’s not bad, sort of like cream of wheat."

Adam Brod


By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer

Adam Brod, the Wood River High School student and Ketchum resident who ditched a class field trip near Madrid a month and a half ago, announced recently that he has rented an apartment in Granada and plans on returning home in late July or early August.

The 18-year-old student caused a stir among teachers, fellow students and his family in April, when word got out that the high school class with whom he was touring Spain had inadvertently returned home without him.

WRHS teacher Shannon Sewell, who led the trip, apparently had major conflicts with Brod soon after arriving in Spain. With the intention of sending him home early, Sewell drove him to an airport near Madrid and left him alone with a return plane ticket, according to students who were on the trip.

Brod never made the flight.

For the most part, teachers—and WRHS principal Bill Resko—refuse to talk about their wayward student. But in a series of e-mailed interviews, Brod describes the events that preceded his temporary "defection," his strange and vagrant days since then and his planned method of returning home.

Sewell, and her sister, Bridgett Sewell, acting as a second adult chaperone, "were fed up with me," Brod wrote. "They had lost a lot of sleep over me and the problems I had caused, and [they] wanted me gone."

According to Brod and students who were on the trip, his offenses included spending too much time in the world-famous Prado Museum, dallying in a park and leaving his backpack unattended at an airport.

Brod’s overzealous enthusiasm perhaps caused just as many problems for the Sewells as some of the other students’ apparent questionable behavior did, but in a different way.

"They moaned about every hotel we stayed in asking why we weren’t staying in the Four Seasons, threatened to call their parents and wanted to go home," Brod wrote. "They didn’t want to talk Spanish [and] thought the food was disgusting."

One student, he wrote, who was sick with a hangover, claimed she was going to die and insisted on being taken to the U.S. Embassy to see a doctor.

"I don’t know if the U.S. Embassy deals with matters of medicality," he wrote, "and I don’t think she did either."

In any case, Brod admitted that he "didn’t like walking with the group out of embarrassment."

Early in the trip, Brod drafted a "Declaration of Independence" from the Sewells and his peers, stating that he could "run away in Spain and be happy. This is not a bluff. I am capable of existing on my own...."

After reading the declaration, the Sewells apparently decided it was time for Adam to go home.

"There was very little conversation on the way to the airport. Everything was too tense to talk," Brod wrote. "I think I asked her for the name of the hotel we stayed at in Toledo, and that was it."

After they left him alone at the airport, Brod wrote, "first, I wanted to sleep. I had received about 20 minutes for the past 24 hours, and I was stressed from the situation. I found a corner of carpet and laid down until I was sure I had missed my flight."

Brod’s father, local stonemason David Brod, said during a telephone interview that Shannon Sewell did not realize his son was still in Spain until the class had returned home and she called to see how he was doing.

These days, Brod, with only a few hundred dollars in his backpack, is living the life of a semi-homeless expatriate writer.

"Presently, I am living in Granada," he wrote. "I have a flat, three flat mates and a month’s rent paid. I spend a lot of time reading, writing and studying Spanish...I try to get up as early as I can every morning. Eat corn flakes and hot water. It’s not bad, sort of like cream of wheat. Study Spanish in the library of the Centro de Linguas Monderans (sic), read, write, have coffee with friends..."

Adam said he plans on staying in Granada until the beginning of July, then "making my way to the coast, finding a boat to wash dishes on and coming home. I will then make my way from the eastern U.S. to the western U.S. in time to register for senior year again."

Despite his self-deprecating attitude, Adam suggested that his teachers, after all, caused the problem. By assigning the works of Henry Thoreau, the 19th-century philosopher who famously advocated civil disobedience, they encouraged his revolt, he wrote.

On the plane ride to Madrid, Brod wrote, he reread some chapters from Thoreau’s masterwork "On Walden Pond."

Brod: "Thoreau’s the man...goes so far as to practice his philosophy so as not to be called a hypocrite, yet contradicts himself constantly. He’s the man. Takes confidence to live like he did."

Then, blaming the teacher who first assigned the book, Brod wrote, "I simply wanted to emulate Thoreau."

 

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