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la vida madrileña

hola y adventures en el parque

sunny 40 °F

so! I live in Barrio del Pilar
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(google map me, yo!)

Until literally yesterday I hadn't actually seen much - if you're alone and have to be back by 4:30 every night it's hard to get tourism on (constant theme of mi vida - be home before anything starts).
My family's parents (who are such cool, weirdly out-of-a-tv-drama people) were really surprised that I spend so much time with the kids "instead of always being on the computer like the other one" (what now, padre!!), but it's like - I'm in Spain, I have to be alive and home 4:30-10pm; I'm here really for the kids, not for me time/vacation. It's cool I get to see some of Madrid and the Prado and Spain, but I'm getting free room and board for being with the kids, so that's my priority. Which everyone finds shocking, haha.

anyway, the other day we decorated the house with snowflakes (whoo!), and ate pizza with barbacoa for dinner. Ordering pizza - haha Catherine you know how I can't even do that in English, lol. also in america do you usually tell them on the phone specifically how much cash/what bills you will pay with? Because that threw me, man. First I made the five year old talk but they kept asking "Where's your mom?" and then told her not to prank call and hung up !! so, I had to man up.

Then we sat on the couch and drank homemade fresh orange juice and watched Mari and Nuri's flamenco and rumba recitals and school plays. So cute !! They go to a British school, which means spelling lists are hilarious (this week we have 'colour' and 'flavour', ahaha don't ask me kiddo I don't speak your weird English).

View out our window:
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Spain is hot! and Spanish! I'm really happy I got to come here (it was a major weird last-minute random desperate see-what-happens seat-of-pants leap, but I'm so glad I did!!)

so, madrid. one of my favorite places is the lovely parque de buen retiro , basically the Central Park of madrid. it is HUGE!! I've been at least six times, and yesterday while walking through got lost again and saw whole new areas. love it!

there is always a TON of stuff going on there, too. on any given random day you may find:
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a hundred buskers playing a whole orchestra's worth of different instruments - here we have a trumpeter blasting some christmas carols on one of the main streets through the center, but in the course of this particular day there were also three accordions, a flute, two guitars, and a violin at various points in the park. festive !

roller-blading lessons! hordes of children, teens, adults of all ages...there are a lot of paved trails through the park, and the spaniards looove them some inline skating (they don't bike at all, weirdly - but they looove skating). there is also a constant presence from roving bands of tai chi practitioners and their slow-mo followers.

a gothic lolita photo shoot (have now run through two of these...okay then)

people trying to entice the HUMONGO red squirrels down out of trees with a variety of snack foods. they are so big!! and they have bushy bushy tails! and tufted ears! i am fan of spanish squirrels.

the weirdest, weirdest thing is the herds of semi-feral cats who inhabit the park. there are gajillions of them! just wandering around! I....totally don't understand.
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why are you here? where did you come from? what do you eat? who feeds you? what the heck?
there were a couple of disturbingly adorable kittens over in another corner, though...this one had a bumblebee on its nose, like some sort of twee children's book illustration. tiny wild spanish kitten who are you !!

aso, there is a big, square pond in the middle where you can rent a rowboat -seems to be the hot date ticket/meeting ticket/tourist ticket/what have you; anyway there are a lot of tiny rowboats dinking about on the mini square concrete pond like bumper cars. it is super fun to watch the little stories happening with the characters in each boat - for example the other evening we had things like
'boat 96: dude races to impress double date'
and 'boat 70: robust padre in blue checks hauls three sheepish children, avoids crashing into mom shouting from shore'
or 'boat 92: two chicas in matching white puffy jackets and silver headbands each take one oar' etc etc etc. there was also a three-boat drinking party and a cute adolescent date of a queer nature and a pair of what looked like toddlers staging a mutiny against their parents and basically it is a good evening just hanging around on the fancy statue steps with a drink watching the action.

another lovely spot is the palacio de cristal aka crystal palace which is purdy on the outside as well as interior, where there is an art installation that looks like a starry night - but the stars are actually little punctuation marks ! me gusta.
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there's also a groovy stone grotto/waterfall thing happening, huge weird white ducks and black geese with electric-orange beaks...nice stuff! my first time there i did get annoyingly hit on by some dude who started screaming 'GUAPA !! GUAPA!! WHY DON'T YOU WANNA KISS ME !?!' as i walked away (after he told me i should 'date him for protection' since i was 'asking for it with your face and your hair and your cuerpo'...um, W O W no gracias), which was...less lovely. spanish dudes, what is your deal?!

anyway, i have a bajillion more pictures of this place since it is like the size of seattle or some nonsense; i mean there is just LOADS OF STUFF IN THERE from manicured versailles-style gardens to statues of the devil (one of the few huge public statues to...lucifer! go spain) to 'memory forests' to stationary bikes constantly manned by elderly dudes to little japanese pagoda buildings to ancient ruins. woo!

but, ending on a positive: parque de buen retiro! you are awesome.

Posted by dodie.does 04:02 Archived in Spain

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