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Published: October 7th 2007
This is the Ministry of Agriculture.
We've been up nearly 33 hours without sleep and today was a lesson in how potentially disastrous a lack of sleep can be to a beginning journey. I thought there were going to be a few meltdowns. Between Amy having an upset stomach, a lack of sleep on both our parts and I guess what can best be described as a lack of mental preparedness for the language barrier, we were what is commonly referred to as 'frazzled' by people who don't approve of swearing in the States.
Initially when we got into the airport and went in search of the information counter, we found it on the ground level but the guy was still in the process of opening. He was busy straightening items up around the kiosk, and while we were waiting for him to do this, I noticed an empty discarded plastic bottle lying on the floor. So, being the helpful non-ugly American I picked it up and went in search of a recycle bin or trash receptacle. Not locating one anywhere in the vicinity, I returned to the kiosk and placed the bottle on the counter to take with me once we got our info and
This is how I know that this is indeed the Ministry of Agriculture.
walked further along the corridor. This was my first mistake.
The guy walked up to me, obviously reprimanding me in Spanish, and took the bottle off the counter and hurled it to the floor. I'm sure he was saying something along the lines of, "You stupid fucking American. Leave the garbage on the floor where our janitors who deal with this stuff as a career will eventually come along and pick it up rather than putting it on my counter that I just spent cleaning for one half hour of my life that I will never get back. Jesus Christ." I was feeling a little bad about what I imagined was a ruination of all the work he'd just done, but was also a bit amused at knowing that I was being yelled at without knowing exactly what it was that was being said. Even funnier was when he walked around the counter of his kiosk and asked in perfect English how he could help us. It was like the scene from Trains Planes and Automobiles where Steve Martin is going crazy about his rental car except it was in Spanish.
Eventually we made our way to Cat’s
No explanation needed.
Hostel where we were staying for the night. We couldn’t check in for a few hours so we left most of our stuff in the office, got a bit cleaned up, and went out to get our train tickets to Barcelona and explore some of the city.
The train ticket took us about an hour or hour and a half to puzzle out and stumble through with a limited amount of Spanish, but we got it accomplished and then went zombie like out to explore Madrid. We can’t even make a claim to being amateur photographers as we were almost completely unable to muster the discipline and persistence to get the photographs we will never have the opportunity to take again. I will post some of what we have and do the best I can in identifying said material, but don’t rely too much on my word as my notes are shite and I’m not certain of the accuracy.
We did have an interesting experience when we walked into a local’s restaurant with no English menus and a huge language barrier. Basically we just pointed at stuff on the menu that we kind of knew a few words for,
This is a statue of someone important. I just thought it looked great with all those flowers in bloom.
and ate what they brought us. It was a decent meal even though I only have a vague idea what it was we were eating.
I would like to make one comment about something I would have gone to see if I had the time and money, which was a bullfight. It is a bit incongruous, given my normal enthusiasm for animals. Not necessarily a PETA attitude, but I do likes me the other living creatures. Anyway, I never really got into Hemingway until college when I read his short story, “The Killers”, which lead me to his other great works; A Moveable Feast, Death In The Afternoon, The Sun Also Rises, etc. It was after I read Death In The Afternoon, Hemingway’s book on bullfighting that I became fascinated with the bullfight. Let me just say that even through the macabre interest engendered by the idea of a bullfight, I do find the sport cruel and inhumane. I don’t find the cultural argument a persuasive one for keeping the tradition alive, anymore than I find the cultural argument for clitorectomies in Africa a legitimate basis for continuing them. Culture does not give something a free pass.
Can you hear me now? Talking on my invisible Spidey phone to the Mother Ship...
There are some practices that just need to die out and be thrown onto the ash heap of history. But I understand that part of us (me) that makes the bloodsport such a difficult tradition to stamp out.
Well, we’re getting up early tomorrow and heading out for Barcelona. That’s it for Madrid.
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