The dream of actually contributing to the refugee crisis in a practical way came to fruition. We staggered into the arrivals hall into the open (literally) and welcoming arms of an Australian Spaniard who had borrowed a car to come and collect the gear. Our encounter was short, but heartfelt. Mission accomplished.
Here we were in Madrid, new and yet familiar. Returning to a place previously visited is quite different to being there for the first time. There were lots of “ah, that’s right, I’d forgotten that” moments and reconnecting with old friends, both the real people variety as well as statues and buildings and other things familiar.
Ah that’s right, the driver’s seat is on the left.
Ah that’s right, you stand on the right if you’re not walking up an escalator.
Ah that’s right, this is the gay district, where today we saw more same-sex couples strolling down the street in five minutes than we’ve seen in New Zealand…ever.
Ah that’s right, people are friendly and go out of their way to be helpful on the street.
Ah that’s right it’s spring and strawberries are cheap.
Yes, I’d forgotten just how well-dressed everyone is. Everything matches, lots of scarf accessorising, men in buttoned shirts and jumpers with the cuffs folded up, funky coloured shoes everywhere.
I’d forgotten the buzz, the vibe that is Madrid.
There’s the statue that Jesus sent us to find.
There’s the spot where we listened to street musicians until midnight.
There’s the wool shop where I made a purchase. Remember how So-and-So got grumpy walking there?
There are those majestic stately buildings that wowed us the first time we saw them, and are just as grand today.
It feels surreal after 40+ hours of travelling to be plopped here in this humming city for a fleeting visit. It was a delightful re-encounter, but it is already all but over. By 7pm the kids were in bed and all fell asleep immediately. I suspect they would not have lasted that long if we had not met up with a friend from a previous camino. A couple of hours of reminiscing pushed them all to the edge of Staying-Awake-Ability; hopefully our body clocks will adjust quickly as we valiantly attempt to adopt the new time zone. A six o’clock start tomorrow means there won’t be any sleeping late!