El albergue

El albergue

Monday, January 23, 2012

This is Madrid

This is Madrid.  The capitol of Spain.  The busy, yet still warm and inviting center of an entire country.  The big metropolis where you can find just about anything. 

Here, you can find salsa clubs, where people sway about the floor in small circles as they try to avoid the elbows and toes of their extremely close neighbors.  Where the rhythms are catchy and unmistakable and the chance to see some excellent dancing nearly always certain.

Here are the dusty convenience stores run by hard-working Chinese immigrants, where you can find just about anything you might possibly happen to want.  And if they don’t have it, the one right down the street surely does.

Here are the jazz bars, where you can go catch the regular live band performances of either slow and artsy styles or the swinging sound of Dixieland.  Where the band might be composed of four gray-haired old men, with one young ‘un on the drums, who enthusiastically whale away at their respective instruments, the lead singer jerking his head around energetically whenever he enters another seizure of scat singing.  Where you can just barely make out the faces of a couple of the musicians over the heads of a standing-room-only crowd and around the corner of a mirror-encrusted pillar.

Here are the quaint little novelty shops, the best often having to do with food.  Here, in fact, is Happy Day bakery, the tiniest little 50s-themed shop that happens to sell the most enchanting cupcakes and muffins.  Also here are the plethora of adorable little book shops with artistically arranged displays of second hand novels and brik-a-brak that make you long for an entire afternoon free for their perusal.

Here are the parade of seemingly random little fairs of artwork, jewelry, food, and whathaveyou, including a large scale fair for the celebration of Chinese New Year, where you can be sure to see anything from a stall selling hot sauce or ready-to-eat chow mein to chicken feet dangling temptingly at eye level from another stall to a vendor trying to sell lacy underclothing to the wandering crowd – where you can be sure to hear vendors banging drums or playing flutes to attract customers or the quasi-wailing of a demonstration of traditional Chinese singing.

Where you can leave the bustle and noise of a main street and almost right away enter the quiet of a residential district where it seems like the whole world is sleeping.

Where I am currently living my life. 

This is Madrid, my home for now.

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