Category — Spain
As we roamed Madrid we found ourselves living in the space between when one thing ends and something new is about to begin.
Our great adventure, conceived over lunch in a neighborhood restaurant two years earlier, planned in great detail for nearly a year — and lived for the previous ten months — was coming quickly to an end.
Endings, no matter the circumstances, always come as a surprise to me. Where did the time go?
It seems like just yesterday we were wandering through Old Town Quito, wondering if we’d made some kind of crazy mistake by taking this trip.
Now, home was on the horizon: We’d be touching down at Washington Dulles airport in less than 48 hours. The fantasy we had been living would end; “normal” life would begin again.
On one level, we all knew it was time to head home. We were road weary and ready to experience the pleasure of a familiar place.
But I know my wife, and something was troubling Dani deeply.
June 24, 2009 8 Comments
Our friend Cris was Conor’s third-grade teacher, imported from Spain, to teach in the Spanish immersion program in Montgomery County, MD, public schools.
She was one of several excellent teachers from Spain to come to our community. At a time when many Americans were focused inward, our children had the tremendous benefit of being in the classroom each day with gifted teachers from a different country, a different culture.
We met Pablo in Washington too, when he was doing important research on child labor issues in third-world countries.
More important for our story, Cris and Pablo met in Washington – and when they returned to their native Spain they settled in Madrid.
Little did we know that one day we would turn up on their doorstep, be treated like family, and shown a side of life in Madrid off the tourist trail.
On our first night in Madrid Cris and Pablo took us to a tapas restaurant in a residential neighborhood not far from Plaza del Sol. Pablo spoke to the waiter, then asked if we would like to try to some dishes unique to Spain.
I was pretty sure I knew what that was code for.
In ten months of travel I had been very cautious with food. I didn’t eat any insect or “unusual” animal parts. But with just a few days till we returned to the United States, I figured what the heck.
The waiter brought several small plates to the table. There were a few items I could not identify. I decided not to ask any questions. I stole a glance at Dani and we dug in.
Fortunately, Pablo had ordered the wine as well.
As the evening was winding down and we were about to head back to our hotel, Pablo asked: “Did you enjoy the tripe?”
“I did,” I said.
“And I will remember it fondly if you don’t tell me what it was.”
June 22, 2009 1 Comment
A Day in Pictures
After three and a half months in Greater Asia, Madrid was familiar, welcoming – and a bit of a relief. It’s Europe. Like home, only different.
Our friend Gail turned us on to an absolute must in Madrid – churros and chocolate. I had lost twenty pounds in Asia (much needed) – I could see that wasn’t happening in Spain!
On the day we arrived the government announced that unemployment in Spain had reached 17% – but as we walked around Madrid, the city felt full of positive energy. The cafe culture was in full swing everywhere we roamed.
Also apparent: We were back in a Catholic country. Not since South America had we seen such ubiquitous religious iconography.
Not to mention the occasional fallen angel. I suppose even good girls stray from time to time.
After a day exploring Madrid, our only regret was the short amount of time we would be there.
Home was beckoning, and Spain was marked for a return visit.
Our pictures from Madrid are here.
June 19, 2009 1 Comment