Summer in Spain: Madrugada in Madrid
Ever since I began learning Spanish in the autumn of 2009, the number one travel destination that would tumble off my lips has always been Spain. After years of conjugations, canciones and culture, I grew to love what constituted the Spanish world: not only is the language fun and quirky in and of itself, the plethora of cultural perks you can find – from fiestas to siestas and of course, the ever dreamy churros con chocolate – never failed to enchant the wanderlust inside. And so it came as wonderful news when I was admitted into a summer program to be held in Salamanca, one of the most historic places in Spain. To make matters better, my parents decided to surprise me on the sideline by letting me know that we, as a family, would be traveling by car throughout the entirety of Spain ten days before my admittance into the program. ¡Finalmente!
I arrived at 11PM last night, with bleary eyes yet a fast pumping heart. Seeing words and vernacular I had only seen within the pages of textbooks during my first semester of Spanish in Year 10 was only the beginning of my excitement. And although our baggage did get lost and we had to wait, airplane attire-clad and all, we eventually made it out onto the quiet madrugada streets of Central Madrid in a taxi that cost more for a 15 minute ride than it does for an hour-long troupe to Hong Kong airport. Oh well.
One of the most fascinating brainwaves I had during that taxi ride was one which was heavily shrouded by the nostalgia I still feel for last summer, when I went to Exeter for a 5 week summer program. Although whatever I was seeing past the windows was completely foreign to my eyes, the notion that a lot of my friends would have gone home from the same airport, perhaps in the same cab, to the same place, with their mind filled with nothing but home was a spectacular fact to mull over. We travel the world to find new things, but things aren’t always so new. Everywhere we go, there are people who call that ‘everywhere’, anywhere, home; and just like that, Spain wasn’t a foreign, mind-boggling tourist planetarium but a beautiful place that can also be labelled fondly as ‘mi casa’.
Perhaps not for me, yet, but as I walked through the quietude of the 7AM streets when all the stores were still closed, I wondered what it would be like for me – a born and bred city girl too accustomed to everyday hustle and bustle – to live in a place where time is not a dictator but a friend who, well, is lazier than you.
I have yet to experience the true life in Spain, but it’s only a matter of time!