I left Thursday morning for Madrid, and after a few little hiccups, I arrived around 9 o’clock this morning. Unfortunately, when our flight was delayed in Chicago and then we were put on a different flight to Madrid, skipping what would have been my second lay-over city, Boston, the luggage was separated from its owners and is still in Boston. Supposedly it will be delivered tomorrow afternoon to the place I’m staying, and I really hope it is. I packed two large suitcases full (right to the limit of 50 lbs. each) of things to leave behind permanently in Munich. I had only my essential documents and papers for getting a library card to the Biblioteca Nacional on my person, so I have no toothbrush, clean clothes, or the like. Happily, as I was taking my documents out of my small backpack, I found an old t-shirt that was supposed to be in the donation box a few weeks ago. I guess it was left behind for just the occasion of sleeping tonight. At least I can take this dirty shirt off for a while.
I am spending two weeks in Madrid now for researching books pertaining to my dissertation. The excellent thing about this situation is that it got my flight to Europe paid for, so I will be able to see Raul very soon!
Raul and I came to Spain in 2005, so this is my second time here. Madrid is pretty much like I remember it – not too enticing from the approach by air (it’s pretty arid), many people, and kind of dirty. I guess those last two describe most all capital cities, which is why I don’t care for them too much. Already today I’ve had my fill of people for many days. I took several Metro rides between the airport, the apartment I’m staying at, and the National Library. It seems like those stations generally smell filthy. It looks like there’s a more direct route by bus to the Library, so I will try that on Monday.
I’m staying in a room in an apartment rented by a Peruvian couple, for the really excellent price of $28/night, whereas most hotels and other apartment rooms in the same area were 70, 80, 90 euros a night. I have my own bath and access to their kitchen and WiFi (Wee-Fee). It was a great deal, and it’s very clean. As to be expected, it’s quite small, which isn’t a problem except for the shower. I literally could not turn around without either banging the shower door with my elbows or accidentally turning off the water. First world problems – at least the water was hot.
I wanted to make sure I went by the Library today, so after I stopped by the apartment, I just took a quick shower, put my dirty clothes back on, and headed out. It was pretty easy to navigate the Metro system and find it. The grandiose building sticks out from the ones around it. Spain has an old reputation of bureaucracy and “come back tomorrow” mentality, so I was thrilled when it took less than ten minutes total to get my researcher card. Armed with a gas bill to establish my residence, a letter of introduction signed by my thesis director, and my passport, I entered to find out what I needed to do. A colleague of mine had said it took her about 30 minutes when she did it last year. I had to stop at four desks and security before I could get it, but it turned out without a hitch. I requested the book I wanted, they assigned me a desk number, and then a red light flashed on my desk when I could pick up my book. I started reading one of the primary sources I’ll be working with.
I tried to stay as long as possible, but I was so sleepy from not having slept much on the plane that I had to leave. I went by a grocery store on the way home and purchased the requisite Taranu foods : yogurt, granola, salami, cheese, water, baguette, and a red bell pepper. I did not have success finding apples. I had a late lunch and then caught up on some emails. I’m trying to make myself stay awake in order to adjust to the time, but I’m having a hard time fighting it. That’s why I am bumbling through this entry. Good night!