I was able to sleep for one or two hours, and soon our plane was preparing to land I went through passport control—they didn’t even look at my visa—and then picked up my luggage. All 50 pounds arrived okay! I arranged my luggage, backpack, and purse over and around a chair, and then waited for the arrival of my two fellow Fulbrighters.
Hannah was the first to arrive, and we chatted excitedly despite rubbing our eyes awake. Jaselyn arrivedan hour later, and the three of us took a taxi to the residencia. We split ways, and Jaselyn and I arranged to meet up an hour later. I tracked down the colegio’s computer lab with the goal of letting the ‘rents know that I had made it safely. Ideally, the joyous arrival message lands in their e-mail while they sleep. Immediately following the I’M-IN-MADRID!!! high, however, was a panic-ed question—Why did I just receive an e-mail from my bank informing me that my account has been deleted???
This unwelcome news put a new spin on my day. Not only was my head cloudy from lack of sleep, it was now layered with frustration. What was going on with my bank account?
Jaselyn ran to the bank, I bought water at the grocery store, and we decided to get something to eat. I noted that a tapas place was hoppin’, and when Jaselyn asked what tapas were, our lunch was her answer. Croquetas de jamón, baguette slices, and montadito (a type of open-faced sandwich) filled our table. The waiter, who announced our order with a hearty “Guapa!,” brought us potato chips as our aperitif. Tapas in Madrid are different from those in León; the former require patrons to purchase both drinks and tapas, whereas in León one simply pays for a drink and gets an accompanying tapa. Everything was delicious, especially the croquetas.
Feeling better, we headed toward the heart (or, should I say, SOUL) of la capital—la Puerta del Sol. I grinned at Tio Pepe’s sign, oohed at La Mallorquina’s sweet line-up, and soaked in the frenetic bustle of people and taxis and general city-speed. We passed street actors and musicians, fast food joints, and tourist t-shirt shops to end up in the Plaza Mayo.
We also looked into phone logistics. It is cheaper to simply purchase a SIM card to insert in our American models, which is what Jaselyn opted for. I will have to return tomorrow and make sure I have my passport with me, which is what one needs to get a phone or just a SIM card.
Our next stop was the Reina Sofia Museum. We weren’t actually planning to go in today, just to visit a newfound friend. Upon reaching the museum, I entered a mobile tourism booth and found myself face-to-face with madrileña I had recently been introduced to by my friend Leonese pal Bea. Patri was energetic and bubbly, exiting her unconventional office to greet me with the typical dual cheek kisses. She explained a bit about the city to Jaselyn and I, filling our pockets with info on Madrid.
Patri and I made plans to meet the following day, and then the three of us waved adios. Jaselyn and I found our way back to the residencia, but only after taking the wrong way—twice. I was grateful to be back, but the room was uber-hot. My thermometer read 87 degrees F, and to fix the problem, I propped the window open with books. A breeze has since cooled the room down a bit.
The residencia we’re staying in is a college boy’s dorm. Better than a shared hostel room, it’s a basic cube for living.
And, now, I am about to go meet more Fulbrighters at dinner. I didn’t know this until today, but 3 meals a day are included each day we stay at the residencia.
A view of my week-long home