Tag Archives: Madrid

Bringing a little ‘Sun’ to a Madrid unemployment office

Ya hace dos meses que ocurrió esto, pero solo acabo de verlo hoy, y me ha calentado el corazón un poquito en un día lleno de nieve aqui en Canadá.

It seems appropriate to post it here since this is my little corner of the web with Madrid memories and stories – plus, I am missing los niños (and the sun).



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March 20, 2013 · 3:59 pm

Bus Beer Bunny

These three things happened in one day.

Every morning I ride the bus to school. This particular morning, when we were about 10 minutes away from work, the bus pulls up to a stop, and the doors open to let on a passenger. Nobody was waiting to get off the bus, but the driver presses the button to open the back doors as well. He stands up, opens the little gate to let himself out of his seat, and quickly strides to the back of the bus and out the door. We watch as he approaches a lady sitting outside selling lottery tickets at a kiosk. He jokes around with her for a minute, pays for a ticket, hurries back to the bus, through the back door and settles back into the drivers seat.

That afternoon I was returning to work after lunch. As I enter the front gates into the parking lot, a man is crossing the pavement wheeling a trolley with several stacked cases of Mahou Clásico beer. I climb the front stairs, and he pushes the cart up the ramp and strolls into the school, with about 200 cans of beer.

I still have no idea what it was for.

Next, I make my way downstairs to the kindergarten wing to teach one of my classes of five-year-olds. I get the kids sitting down on the floor in a circle, where they eagerly pull up four or five chairs at odd spots in the circle, hoping that I will choose their chair and sit next to them. With a bit of difficulty I sit and get the class started… when moments later, a small, black, fuzzy animal darts under my chair and we realize that the rabbit, who is visiting for the day, has gotten loose from its cage and is making a run for it.

All in a day.

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Some of my friends were here this week

A.k.a., I don’t know what to do in this city when it rains.

Lesley, Leigh and Charlotte arrived in Madrid a week ago.

And of course, it rained.

I should clarify. I am aware of the spring that Eastern Canada has experienced, but I am aware of it only in the abstract sense, in the way that Spaniards are aware that in some places there are actual variations in weather that go beyond “sunny and warm” and “sunny and warm.” So if I seem unsympathetic in my writing about the weather it is because I am turning into a bit of a Spaniard (only when it comes to weather. And other things.) Plus, if you don’t like the weather in Canada? Leave. Come to Spain!

It rarely rains in Madrid. This is (probably?) an exaggeration, but I am relatively certain that the last time in rained more than two days in a row was when Moira visited in October. Other than that, precipitation is a rare event, and inclement weather isn’t really a feature of life in Madrid. Especially in June, when it is supposed to be hot and dry. So far, June has disappointed on that front. (Note: it’s still really nice and you should still come visit. If you do, it probably won’t rain as it’s rained like six days already this year and I think that fills the quota for at least a couple of years.)

So of course it had to rain when my friends were here.

Which brings me to the question: What is there to do in Madrid*?                                  *when it rains?

The answer is a lot, but when the girls asked me what I thought they should do given that it was raining, this is what came out of my mouth: “Ummmmm….. ummmm…. I don’t know, it doesn’t really rain here…”

We found things to do. Lots of wandering. The girls visited the main museums, and when the sun was around we took a look at the sights.

We shopped. (Blind item: Which of them do you think bought a silver and gold sequined jacket?) We meandered around the flea market. They all bought handmade espadrilles from Lobo. Some got more than one or two pairs…

We checked out a few places in Madrid’s vast selection of drinking establishments. (Leave it to me to make bars sound the least cool possible.) Madrid apparently has the most bars per capita of any city in Europe. Also, Halifax is said to have the most bars per capita of any city in Canada. I choose my cities well.

We ate Spanish food and went out for huge cheap menú del día lunches and had noodles in the park. We stayed out till 5 dancing. We drank tea and baked brownies and cooked dinners. Before leaving yesterday, we stopped for churros and chocolate (completing the girls’ introduction to the delights of Spanish cuisine).

And we got caught in the rain a few times.

It all felt so normal. Especially after living in Halifax for four years, where rain is what’s normal.

That’s one of the best things about having visitors – it brings a taste of home and a taste of normalcy into this slightly odd life as a Canadian in a country with a foreign language and quite a different culture. Going to the cinema and seeing a movie in English has a similar effect. By way of example, being baffled at the bureaucratic procedures surrounding getting an extended visa has the opposite effect.

Then, of course, comes the worst part of having visitors – the fact that they are visitors means that, by definition, they have to leave.

My apartment is empty and the floor of my bedroom is visible again. As I sit here typing this in the park, the sun is shining. It has been all day (of course). I knew it’d come out when they left!

Visitors leaving is the worst, since you stay and they go. Yes, I had to break that one down for you. You go back to your actual normal life, that is, a “normal” life which doesn’t include them. This time I’m seeing these girls in Germany within a week, which reduces the sadness to pretty much nothing. At the other extreme, see: crying all the way to work on the metro post-mother’s-departure. Never told you about that one, mom. But come on, I can’t be the only one. No way.

Anyways. When you’re with awesome friends, there are always things to do, and if you have lived in Halifax you are well-equipped to figure out for yourself what those things are, even in the presence of rain. Dear Lesley, Charlotte and Leigh, thank you for coming,  see you in no time.

Dear everyone else: If you do visit Madrid, it’ll be awesome (even if it rains).


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Oh, hey!

It’s June.

It’s the beginning of the end of my first year in Madrid. The days are getting longer. And meanwhile, workdays are getting shorter – starting today, school lets out at 1:15, rather than 5:30. They ease you into vacation, here.

And I’m jumping on the blog bandwagon.

Why? For a few reasons.

First, I’m not always … ahem… adept at communicating when I’m away, despite my best intentions. (Sorry!) This way anyone who’s interested can keep up with what’s happening in life in Madrid.

Second, everybody’s doing it. I might as well join in. A little late to the game, but here I am.

Third, I have time. A lot of free time on my hands, in fact. This state of affairs will go on for a while, since I’m signed up for another year in Spain.

I’m happy to be spending another year in Madrid, even though practically all of the friends I’ve made here are moving on to new adventures in new places. I’ll make new friends. Learn more Spanish. Hang out more with fun kids. And some not-so-fun ones. Run more. Read more. Take more pictures. Travel more. Oh, and bake more – my new apartment will have an oven, so I can put an end to this sadly baking-deprived chapter of my life. I think that pretty much sums up most of what I do with my time. Did I mention I have a lot of it?

I’ll keep updates on here.

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