El albergue

El albergue

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Week One

It’s been a full week since I flew out of LAX to come here to Madrid, and it feels like I’ve been running nonstop the whole time.  Well, ok, maybe not RUNNING per say, but definitely busy.  Although, I have done a lot of walking….. 

When I first got here on the morning of the 21st, I had a bit of a freak out when I couldn’t find my two roommates, Kelsey and Danielle, where we had agreed to meet, but after schlepping my suitcase back and forth between the different metro stops at the airport looking for them for a while, I decided to just go to the hostel and hope they had the address written down and could make it there on their own.  So, needless to say, I was kind of worried when I arrived at the hostel, but the girl at the front desk was incredibly nice and encouraging, and as soon as I put my stuff down I got on the internet to see if they had somehow sent me an email to let me know where they were.  And wouldn’t you know, their layover in Boston had been unexpectedly extended for 24 hours.  Yes, 24 hours. 

Luckily, I wasn’t totally alone during that first day.  I met two girls who were also doing the Auxiliares program, and they let me tag along as they went to check out this really cute apartment right on the Plaza Mayor before wandering back and forth between three different store locations of the same phone store in search for one that had the models we wanted.  Then a quick trip to the grocery store, and I was ready to eat dinner go to bed already!

Thursday morning, I headed out to my orientation, and after getting slightly disoriented by some misleading street address numbers, I arrived at “Las Acacias,” which used to be a palace but has since been completely modernized and turned into an office building used by the Education Department of Madrid.  The grounds reminded me of faded old ball gowns or something of the sort – you could tell that they used to be beautiful, the envy of all around, but now they are rather faded and threadbare and unraveling around the edges.  But the building itself was pretty well maintained, with a few touches in the architecture here and there that let the royal heritage peek out from the more modern construction.

Friday evening, the three of us (the other two had arrived safely midmorning on Thursday) had our very first apartment showing, which was pretty exciting.  The apartment was pretty decent, as well as the location, so we told the owner that we were pretty sure we wanted it but could we call him in a couple days to confirm.  He seemed pretty ok with that and even told us he would keep it for us, but Saturday morningish, we got an email from him telling us that he had showed it to someone else and they had decided to sign on the spot, meaning that we no longer had this nice little backup option in hand.  We were a little taken aback, and the shock of our abrupt introduction to the cut throat world of renting in a big city combined with the other stressors incumbent on a major move was the perfect catalyst for a few showers of doubting tears and roommate heart-to-hearts. 

That was actually kind of what Sunday was all about – roommate bonding.  We tried to go to church in the morning at the place where Danielle and I had gone during our study abroad stays in Madrid, but it was closed!  I had known beforehand that there was a church-wide retreat going on this weekend, but I thought that they would still have a service for those that weren’t able to go.  Alas, it appeared that they had no such thing.  We were slightly saddened by this, but we got to meet two other girls who were in the same boat as us (we were all hanging out around the door in a more or less dazed state of confusion), and one of them even decided to go with us to El Parque del Buen Retiro instead of the service that never was. 

It was so great returning to El Retiro, my favorite part of Madrid.  We were able to catch part of the weekly free outdoor community concert, and even though the other girl had to leave fairly soon to meet up with a friend, we had some great moments of conversation and shared silence as we meandered through walkways or laid down on the grass in the shade.  We shared our thoughts, our fears, some Psalms, and even back rubs! 

On Monday, I looked at a few more apartments while Kels and Danielle were at their orientation, none of which seemed really up our alley.  But then on Tuesday when we went out on apartment visits, we found one that was perfect!   It had the misfortune of being a rather on the outskirts of Madrid, but the neighborhood seemed nice, the place itself was cute and well-kept, and the rent was amazing.  We decided to say yes, but we had already scheduled another visit, so while I went to the office of the agency in charge of the apartment to sign the “reserva” and put down a deposit of all the money we had on us (150 euros), the other two went to see that extra apartment just in case.  Well, wouldn’t you know, they decided that this second apartment was just as nice as the first one, if not better, on top of being MUCH better situated.  So this morning, we signed the reserva for that apartment and had to call the first people to tell them that we were backing out of the deal.  I felt really bad about it, especially since they were incredibly nice people, but the second one really is much better for us.  Besides, it’s sure to go fast since the rent is so low.

So tomorrow morning we’re supposed to sign the lease for our new apartment!  We’re really excited to have our own little place and not have to live in a hostel anymore, although the one we’ve been in has been super.  But yes!  Soon we shall be settling in!!!!