Clearly, I need to learn how to blog more often. However, for anyone that works with deadlines – when you have one as big as your dissertation proposal defense, everything else in life tends to take a backseat. So a quick dissertation update – I passed my oral comps AND my proposal defense! Don’t ask why I did them back to back…but I did and passed thankfully! But more on the dissertation front later – I have a post in line regarding the doctoral process for those that don’t understand all that entails to get those precious 3 letters behind your name…Ph.D!
Anyways, WELCOME TO SUMMER!!! For those of us in college administration, summer officially begins once those precious students leave and the graduates have crossed the stage. This summer I have only my dissertation to focus on and this trip I am currently on. So where am I??? Where in the world is Lani?? MADRID, SPAIN…hence the title! Yes, I am in Europe exploring a new country 🙂
Back story – C. is on a business trip and asked if I wanted to meet him here. Who says no to a free trip to Spain??? So here I am…in Spain for a week. Travel was quite painful this time around. I only had 2 meltdowns…mainly due to Delta being Delta and my second luggage being temporarily lost (thankfully found during the process of me filing a claim). But I am here and upon arrival to the hotel…I found a sweet surprise from C. On the night stand he had a framed picture of us and he left a note with Euros for me to enjoy lunch and explore the neighborhood. Such a thoughtful gesture! After getting settled in and briefly seeing C. during his lunch break, I went off to explore the area.
First off, the hotel is next to the Real Madrid stadium. Clearly, the non Soccer fan in me was unimpressed. But I know C. is excited to be so close to the stadium. Hopefully we will catch a game this weekend and I can see what this sport is all about. I guess if I am going to marry this man I will need to understand his beloved sport. 😉 After walking around the stadium I only had about 30 minutes to get back to the hotel to meet C. for dinner. Of course, the smart person would just retrace their steps and take the same route back to their hotel. Of course, on a beautiful day – I choose to just keep walking in a different direction assuming I would find my way back to the hotel. I reasoned that I was just walking a square block I would run back into the hotel…yeah no. After walking around and around, I eventually stumbled across a familiar site – McDonalds, hahaha. Yes, our hotel is near a McDs…anyways, I knew that meant I was close to the hotel. Unfortunately, I took the wrong street and got even more lost! After stopping in a bakery for a snack, the lady at the register told me to turn around and I would find my street (which ironically was the street where McDonalds was on…I just took the wrong turn at that intersection). 😦
Despite being 45 minutes late, C. was not back yet so I had time to get dressed for dinner. After meeting some of his colleagues, C. and I went to the mall to look for something for his Madre. The walk was quite enjoyable and the weather was wonderful (neither hot or cold…just right). One thing C. quickly pointed out was that he stuck out in the crowd…there apparently is not a lot of Africans in Madrid and he felt that people looked at him in a negative manner. Sure enough, after looking around more observantly, people did look at him differently than they looked at me. I am not sure if it was the area we were in which seemed much more affluent or if there is a general disfavor towards Africans in Madrid but I can sense he felt uncomfortable with what he perceived to be outright racism (apparently to add more fuel to the fire, the first day he arrived – a restaurant turned him and his colleagues away as they were searching for dinner claiming the kitchen had suddenly “closed” despite several people having just arrived to dine). Another observation as we were shopping, there are a lot of Filipinos in Madrid! I ran into so many at the shopping mall and C. said he came across a large tour group of Filipinos the other day. I wonder if they can see me and sense I am Filipino too as I tend to do when I have the rare sighting of other Pinoys in the South?
After shopping, we had a late dinner in a nice restaurant on our way back to the hotel. Dining in Madrid will clearly be quite expensive but on the bright side…wine is free flowing and cheap! I had a delicious sangria that paired nicely with my pasta dish. And we dined al fresco!!! It was beautiful, romantic and fun. As I told C. this is exactly what I imagine our life being like – full of culture and a dash of spontaneity. My last observation of the day, C. is quite the polyglot as he speaks Spanish very well despite lack of formal training, he claims its due to his years in South Florida during college. And for me, my 10 years of formal Spanish lessons has escaped me as I spend my time now mastering Portuguese. I forget little phrases like “gracias” and “si” instead saying the portuguese versions “obridgado” and “sim”. And of course, I didn’t think to bring a spanish-english dictionary for this trip – so I had to download the app on my phone this morning so I could navigate the rest of my vacay.
Now I am off to navigate the metro system and find the city center. Anyone that knows me knows I am not content with the nice neighborhood that I am staying in. I need to find the heart of the city, the historical districts, the street shops and cultural food…..
Until next time…