Wednesday, January 14, 2009

La Vida Cotidiana - Daily Life in Madrid

So now that I've been here about a week, I've begun to notice a few things about daily life here that you in the states may find interesting.

1. Everything here is miniature-sized. The streets are narrower, the cars are smaller, the apartments are smaller...everything. My first real personal experience with this was in getting on the elevator in the apartment building (we live on the 6th floor) the first night. To use the elevator, you push a button that says "Ocupado" (busy), which will blink until the elevator arrives and then stays lit. You then have to open this door, which swings out toward you, and then a pair of small doors that open into the elevator. The elevator itself is approximately a 3-foot square, so these doors opening in cause quite an issue when you are trying to get more than one person into this box (although one morning we fit 3 of us along with my carry-on suitcase. It was quite the tight squeeze.) I have put a picture in here, though I doubt that you can get the full effect of how small this thing really is.

2. They really don't like bare feet. While in Toledo, we stayed at the FundaciĆ³n building there - they had dorm-like suites, so mine was myself and another girl, each with our own room and a shared bathroom. One night Jenna forgot her keys in her room while she was showering, and since the doors locked behind you automatically, she was stuck in her towel. I offered to go downstairs and find someone to let her into her room, only I had just taken a shower myself and, without thinking about it, went out in my bare feet. This would not have been a big deal back home, but one of the directors made sure to lecture me about it. Jenna was glad I´d gone down to get someone because, as she pointed out, if they freaked out about my bare feet they would have lost their minds over her just being in her towel...

3. Living with a 14-year-old boy is most interesting. Having never really been around a boy of that age, I´m learning quite a bit. Just now, for example, he came into my room, plopped down on the bed and started talking to me (this happens frequently). Tonight the topic, among other things, was guns. Carmen was in her room on the phone, so he told me to follow him and showed me the BB gun that he bought but hides from his mother because she wouldn´t like it. She came out of her room while he was showing me so I had to pull a diversion tactic while he hid it again. I´m actually probably learning the most Spanish from him because he not only talks about completely random things with me (like BB guns) but also because he talks much faster than Carmen does (at least to me), so I have to pay much more attention. He´s a good kid though and we´re getting along quite well, though it´s interesting to hear his opinion on certain topics. The picture I´ve included is of the snowman he made when they got their huge snow (of 4 inches).

4. I love this country, if only for the amount of carbs they consume. It´s rare here not to have bread with a meal, and you know I´m all about that!! There´s this great bakery just down the street from the apartment where I buy bread for my lunch sandwiches every couple of days. Ohhh that is my new favorite place. Also, they eat a LOT of oranges. I had eaten more oranges just in my first 3 days here than I´d probably had during the rest of my life combined. We´re all getting used to smelling like oranges all the time, which is far preferable to smelling like smoke, which is generally the alternative. Carmen does smoke, but only a few times a day at most and she shuts herself up either in her room or the bathroom to do so. The problem with that being, however, that once she leaves that room smells like smoke for a good half an hour at least. I´m getting used to it though and I know that it could be worse. Apparently something like half of the doctors here smoke, which we find weird but they find completely normal.

5. They don´t seem to make shoes for people with big feet. I discovered upon arriving here that if I really wanted to fit in I needed a pair of black boots (which broke my heart, you know), only I had the worst time finding some to fit my big feet! I ended up finding a pair at this really fantastic leather store that is on the way to my metro stop. Also, the sale season here literally lasts from the beginning of January until the middle of March. How lucky was I to arrive now?

Friday we are all taking a field trip to El Escorial (this castle-y thing, I think - perhaps I should read that information they gave us about it) and El Valle de los Caidos - The Valley of the Fallen. This is a monument that Franco had built for those that died during the Spanish civil war, only because Franco built it it really only contains names of people he wanted it to contain. Highly controversial.

Also, I just booked tickets to go with a group of girls to Paris the 12-14 of February, making sure to actually leave on Valentine´s Day so as not to depress ourselves too much...

1 comment:

Julie said...

Some comments:
1. How lucky that your room is blue. It's very nice.
2. Why is it that they don't like bare feet, yet have nude beaches? Clearly, this doesn't make sense to me.
3. I'm glad that you got a picture of Sol on your bed. I'm sure that he is glad that you allow him to sleep there.