Greetings from my little prison cell here in Madrid. After an hour and a half-long wait (don’t even get me started on the Spanish train system, Renfe. Let me just say it’s like your worst DMV nightmare, times five in cost, aggravation, and wait time, and NO ONE speaks English). Anyway, I persevered and was eventually able to secure a seat on the morning train to Barcelona. The hassle was worth it. I think it’s a good thing to be getting out of this place: It’s the kind of room you’d hang out in if you were part of a terrorist cell awaiting orders or maybe slowly going crazy and planning an assassination. I imagine it’s a room where Mark David Chapman or John Hinckley, Jr. would have felt comfortable and maybe even at home. If only I could get my hands on some pictures of Jodie Foster…
Anyway, it’s this strange little fluorescent green concrete room with a bare light on the ceiling and 18” x 24” bar-covered window about 14 feet up. The window effectively lets in street noise and the myriad sounds and smells of the various apartments in the area (doors slamming, people yelling, loud TV until 2am, gross cooking odors, and what could only be the sound of someone vigorously scrubbing a floor at about 7am). At the same time, it does not let in one iota of fresh air (and of course there is no A/C or fan or anything) or natural light. That would defeat the purpose.
This morning woke up at 9am and it was so dark, I thought it was still nighttime. For the rest of Madrid it was a sunny morning, but not here in my concrete box.
Anyway, and as you can tell, it’s kind of a soul crushing little pad, and I think it’s making me morbid. For stays of over a week they should throw in a fistful of antidepressants.
I did try to spend as much time as humanly possible outside of it. Madrid is referred to as a ‘walking city,’ and I walked my ass off today. Actually, I would assert that the reason it’s a walking city is because pretty much everything worth seeing is off one street – Paseo del Prado (which turns into Paseo de Recoletos). This is very convenient, until you’ve done the whole street. Then, it’s just a maddening labyrinthine of identical streets filled with tiny markets, shops with some seriously ugly clothes that reek of moth balls, and tapas joints. I have been incredibly lost at least five times today, and each time I was almost positive I’d been on the exact same doppleganger of a street once before. Anyway, if you keep walking long enough, you run into one of the ‘big’ roads, and you can straighten yourself out…just in time to take a break from the abusive sun and 90-degree heat by hanging out in your 88-degree lime green palace.
So, unrelated, but last night, while trying to find the latest episodes of Project Runway on YouTube, Spanish Google directed me to some lady’s video recording of herself talking about the episode. I got as far as, “Hi Everyone. It’s time for my weekly critique of Project Runway. This week…” and was able to stop it. One, because I didn’t want any surprises ruined, Two, because who the hell is this 50-something woman and why should I care? Then I started wondering, does anyone actually WATCH this? I mean, is there a weekly audience of dozens or even hundreds of people who tune in with bated breath wanting to know what Carol or Barbara or Diane thinks? I also have a weird impression that she was in a strange, dank room. Like a creepy Silence of the Lambs basement or perhaps this very pensione. Awkward.
Admittedly, the same could be said for my blog. Why am I typing all this up day and after day and does anyone give a sh!t and why??? But at least I have something original to say beyond regurgitating the contents of a show I just watched. (Although if you guys would prefer that, I could just go home and be a hell of a lot more comfortable.)
Meanwhile, I have found one good thing about not understanding the language: When men make what are obviously vulgar comments (usually identified by a mix of the tone of delivery and the look on their face), I have no idea what they’re saying. Thus, I find – for me, anyway – it’s almost impossible to feel offended when you don’t really know what’s going on. I’ve been responding to all comments with a chipper “Muchas gracias!” both out of personal amusement, and just to keep them guessing…