Museuming, a Very Special Madrid Cameo, Tiny Sammiches and The Man from the Tomb

Instead of actually writing a logically organized post I’ll hit the highlights of today in (what I THINK) is their actual chronological order.

(Background) Talia, Alex, Jordan, newcomer Jill (from New Hampshire! Near Sunapee, no less!) and I decided to avail ourselves of the free admission offered by El Prado (and all other Madrid museums) on Sundays. We disembarked from the metro at Banco de España which was when today’s first odd occurrence…er… occurred. (Hey. I’m tired. It’s late. Bear with me.)

Approaching a crosswalk on the Paseo del Prado I had a moment of intense eye contact/stunned and befuddled mutual recognition with a man on the street. Tall, stoop shouldered, with a shock of springy dark hair and a set of–we’ll call them memorable–teeth, the man recognized me first.
“Caitlin? Is that you?” he asked in Spanish.
Holy shit. It was my Spanish Lit of the Middle Ages professor from La Universidad de Córdoba! Though two years had elapsed, Rafa recognized me right away and rushed across the sidewalk to give me a warm hug and the wonted Spanish greeting of dos besos on the face. We caught up–I, almost too stunned to react–and learned that he was in Madrid just for vacation, along with his new wife! Rafa, who has to be one of the biggest dorks I’ve ever met, must have been goddamn good in a past life. His esposa is an absolutely lovely, winsome little española who was very sweet to me. After Rafa told me that when I visit Córdoba I must look him up and have coffee, we parted ways and my group continued to the Prado. I can’t believe it–that man–that man whose class was SO HARD, whom I half loved, half detested for all of his smartness and awkwardness and unabashedly impossible, inaccessible reading and unreasonable tests–remembered me from two years ago and was so nice it almost made me cry. How very cool.

Through a crazy stroke of kismet (and Alex’s Lonely Planet guide), we ended up finding DeMontaditos, and just in time for lunch. DeMontaditos, you must understand, is the bastion of my favorite memories from my whirlwind visit to Madrid in 2005. This place is fantastic. To simplify things because, I imagine, the DeMontaditos staff deals with a profusion of non Spanish-speaking tourists, ordering consists of 1) grab a menu 2) rip off a simple, sushi-bar style check list, and 3) using the list, check off how many roughly 4-inch baguette style sandwiches you want, and with what on them. The bread is great, the choices are plentiful, and I was…well… an orgastically happy girl. Mmm sammiches. The solo drawback consisted of a profoundly demonic child who insisted upon racing up and down the stairs, SCREECHING, playing some kind of one-man relay to and from our table to the stairs and back again for the entire time we were there. Where were his parents? Not the foggiest. I don’t even know if the kid HAD parents–nothing that awful could possibly be of woman borne. The kid was a fucking terrorist.

Third event: on the metro back home, after the four of us had been riding La Elipa for a good three stops and were immersed in conversation, the Spanish version of Rip Van Winkle slowly creaked on and sat across from us. White haired, dark skinned, dressed in a white blazer with a deep, pink clay colored dress shirt beneath and white pants to complete the ensemble, he looked like a cross between a Spanish Albert Einstein and Mark Twain. The man had a quiet, time-warp air about him. He brought a feeling onto the metro car that I can’t precisely describe, Jordan and I looked at one another in awe as Rip Van Spaniard stared back at us, slack-jawed and glassy eyed.
“Jordan,” I whispered, “Do you think it’s Cervantes come back from the dead?”
“I was just thinking that!” he replied excitedly with a touch of fear. “Maybe!”
We got off the metro before he did–thankfully ending his staring session. I don’t even know what to think. I’m not sure if he was even human, but it was truly weird.

The last weird thing happened on Talia’s and my nighttime adventure walk. We saw a backpacked, middle-aged man in a public park at around 10 p.m. making very pelvic thrust gestures on a very…well… pelvic thrust-able playground toy. It was strange. We walked on, quickly, and I’m glad.

I like it here. There’s plenty, plenty, PLENTY of flavor.

All right. Being as orientation starts tomorrow relatively early, I should probably hustle my buns into bed. Now that I’m mostly caught up with the happenings of week 1, updates will come more easily and in a more timely, intuitive, non-summarical fashion!

Hasta pronto, anyone good, kind, and patient enough to be reading this!


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