Madrid, Spain

I am visiting Ellioto who is here in Madrid at Universidad de San Carlos III on a fellowship, living in university housing. Coming from a college town, I probably feel more at ease with the students than they do with me. English is not so much a second language with the locals as it is for the students who have helped us more than once; otherwise, I would still be trying to figure out those coin washers at the laundromat.

Arriving on St. Patrick’s Day, my Irish soul felt the luck of amazing weather, fresh and clear, luring my jet-lagged self out into the day. This weekend the temps are in the 70’s, though it’s a bit early and not yet consistent. With nary a cloud marring the blue, an occasional jet streaks stripes above me. The breeze gentles my spirit as I settle into this exotic land,

There are date palms trees here, the result of Madrid’s moderate climate. Birds harken in song and across the lush green lawn, groups of college kids dot the grass, their guitars plucking Spanish rhythms as they sing aloud. It’s hypnotic and I cannot sit still as I acclimate to the Spanish thrum.

Others practice gymnastic flips, on high and low bars offering me a show. Boom boxes rev up their moves, while their incomprehensible chatter reminds me that I am the foreigner here. And so, they pose and show off as I snap a few shots.

Similar to Oxford’s crosswalk law, cars stop for pedestrians and no one seems rude or irritated. I’m going back home with a more agreeable attitude.

There are not as many bicycles as in other European cities that we have visited, but there are bike paths, parks with fountains and playgrounds every few blocks where families with dogs complete the wholesome scene. Grandparents in tow, the children seem mellow and happy.

And what of Spanish food, you ask? It is not as spicy as Mexican; local cheese is delish;
Paella is a staple and the wine is less expensive than bottled water!