Friday, January 06, 2006

Madrid Journal - Day Two

Today, I slept until one o’clock in the afternoon. Yesterday, after having dropped off my bags, Mario and I proceeded to walk for several hours throughout his immediate neighborhood. To my dismay, I discovered that I couldn’t make outgoing calls from Mario’s. This is understandable with the sort of living arrangements he’s grown accustomed. He is in the practice [habit] of renting bedrooms to students and such for extended periods. It makes perfect sense not to have a phone that makes outgoing calls, it’s easier to maintain a phone and not have disputes when it’s time to pay the phone bills.

This at first concerned me, as I had promised friends and associates back home that I would be in constant communication via the Internet and e-mail. This will not be the case. The Internet has not caught on here in Madrid. The places that offer Internet services are expensive, if not rudely so.

Mario and I walked to a few cybercafés to price them and to check their available services. There was one affordable place, but for the life of me, I can’t remember where it’s located. Mario and I were talking, as we zigged and zagged throughout the streets yesterday.

Afterwards, we strolled about the streets and winding paths to points of interest. There’s a group in town, The Harlem Gospel Singers, a group I wouldn’t have imagined to make a stop in Spain with its history of racism. All the same, I am told that the group is well received. Our next stop brought us to dinner in a pub on the fifth floor in a building with a patio that overlooks the opera house where the gospel group is making its home for the time being.

Walking through Plaza Mayor, we stopped to watch a troupe of fire-handling squatters that were a throwback to the 1980’s and punk music. Most had colored Mohawks of one sort or the other, ripped clothes, the men were wearing tights without the benefit of underwear, and the few women that were present were just as scantily clad. They had two dogs in tow that chased, and roughed up every other dog in sight as the troupe waited for the perfect moment to start their routine and ask for money. We soon grew tired of their routine and headed home. As we neared the front door, a friend of Mario’s called out to him in greeting. It was Paul, a resident of Baltimore, Maryland, who has lived in Madrid for the past six years. I also met his girlfriend, Maria Teresa, a dancer.

We stood in the Plaza and talked for the better part of thirty minutes before Paul and Maria made their way to a local bar. I enjoyed meeting them; both seem to be good people.

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