Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday afternoon stroll

Just being out and about in Madrid is enough to cheer a body up. Check it out for yourself:

Saturday afternoon pictures

Vacas Locas

Mad Cow Pictures

Settling in

I'd forgotten just how completely crazy Madrid can be -- people out and about at all hours of the day and night. Yesterday was a terrific day -- got some necessary chores taken care of in the morning. Then, as if to make me feel at home, when I went out to get some lunch (around 2pm or so), in quick succession, a few random occurrences helped dispel that "alone in the big city" feeling.

The first was, just as I was leaving the building, I bumped into the mailman who was vainly scanning the mailboxes for a "David Giltinan". It seemed impossible, as I hadn't remembered giving the address to anyone. But no, when I talked to my Scottish friend Yvonne on Saturday before leaving S.F. I had given her the address, and sure enough - he had a welcoming letter from Yvonne to brighten my day. Then, when I reached ROOT, one of my favorite restaurants from when I was here last time, the hostess greeted me, all smiles - and remembered me, even to the point of asking after my cats "with the Russian names". Now, granted, this was just professional hospitality on her part, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel nice to be remembered and welcomed. Later on in the afternoon, just wandering along, I spied a familiar face - someone waving at me from one of the little cafes - it was Pedro, director of the DonQuijote school. So that, all of a sudden, I didn't feel quite so far from home.

All in all, an afternoon that made me feel welcome to be back in Madrid, and not quite so anonymous. I'm really psyched about starting classes again on Monday morning. It'll be interesting to see how much of my Spanish I remember, and whether I picked up any really bad linguistic habits down in Buenos Aires.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The key to happiness

Well, I'm not claiming to have any definitive answers. But I think it must have something to do with being able to stick the right kind of plug in the right kind of hole and have it fit.

And although I did arrive at this conclusion after an hour and a half searching through Chueca, Madrid's ultra-chic gay ghetto, you can all get your collective mind out of the gutter and rest assured that my search was through various hardware stores. Looking for just the right adapter that would allow me to use the expensive battery charger I bought in Buenos Aires for my camera battery here in Madrid.

So when I found just the right adapter in the fourth store I tried, for only 2€, I was one happy customer indeed. Equally cheering was the sheer helpfulness of the guys in each of the first three stores I tried. In that totally straight middle-aged helpful hardware store guy kind of way, not at all like the cruisy gay hardware store guy kind of way one encounters at Cliff's Hardware on Castro Street. Not that I spend much time hanging out at Cliff's, or any other hardware stores. As those of you who know me hardly need to be reminded.

But anyway, for this morning, it's mission accomplished. The battery she is charging. So that later on I can go out and get appropriate photographic documentation of the cows that seem to have taken over the streets of Madrid.

Watch this space.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Barren Nihilistic Wasteland

Spanish TV. I'd forgotten just how appallingly dreadful it is. I lose IQ points just thinking about it. Dear God.

Greetings from Madrid

Yes, folks! Rather than spend February and March mooning around in the cold in San Francisco, I thought it would be more fun to do so in Madrid. So aquí estoy, figuring out yet again how to work this very ethpanish keyboard. I´ve already had to stop by FNAC to buy a mouse (el ratón); my general lack of physical coordination means I am most emphatically not a trackball kind of guy.

I got here on Tuesday -- have spent an inordinate amount of time sleeping since then. But have managed to get out and about enough to check some of my favorite haunts. Will be starting school on Monday - given my usual lack of restraint about these things it will be 7 hours a day of class for the next seven weeks. Though I´m glad to say last year's time in Buenos Aires and Guanajuato were obviously of some use - when I stopped by the school yesterday afternoon to finalize registration details, I managed to acquit myself fairly well.

DonQuijote (the school) has moved to much larger, more luxurious digs since I was here last. I am staying in an apartment I found online and that I've rented for two months until mid-April. it's close to where I stayed last time, so I know the neighborhood, and it's about a 15-minute walk to school, which seems ideal. Given the shameful state I was in by the time I walked up the 4 floors to the apartment with my suitcase on Tuesday, the exercise that walking around madrid will bring can only do me good.

yes, as soon as I get around to it, I will change the name of the blog back to MAINLY ON THE PLAIN.