So I don’t want this blog to be all about me and what I’m doing on a daily basis. Partly because there are already 23492374349410 travel blogs like that, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. I just think I’m more creative than that. So creative that I just used the word “that” four times. Also, my day to day life will never be interesting, whether I live in the US, or Madrid, or Jupiter.
But once in a while I’ll write updates about what I’ve been doing/thinking/feeling, just in case any of you out there actually give a shit. So here are some updates, accompanied by pictures from a random Star Wars parade in Retiro Park last Saturday.
So I got to Madrid like 15 hours later than I was supposed to due to a flight delay. I met a fellow Auxiliar on the way over, which was kinda cool. When I got here, I stayed at an AirBNB In Malasana, a couple blocks north of Gran Via. A really convenient location.
To be honest, I haven’t done that many exciting things in the just over a week since I’ve been here. I’ve gone out to eat a few times (and I’m disappointed to report that I don’t like jamón ibérico. Sorry Spain, I know it’s your national delicacy, and I appreciate that it takes a while to make, but it tastes like solid, chewy olive oil.), I went to Retiro (of course), and visited the Prado and walked around and stared at art until I couldn’t stand anymore. But I’ve done a lot of sleeping too. And watching The Simpsons in Spanish.
But I guess I haven’t been doing as much typical expat stuff? I mean a couple times I went to McDonalds instead of searching for local cuisine. And I could be making a better effort to meet/meet with people, and/or take advantage of what the city has to offer. But you know, sleep. And internet. And staying in bed all day and doing nothing.
I’ve been trying to get out and socialize, though. Key word: trying. Some Auxiliaries had meetups this past weekend at bars in the center. So I went, cause I was open to going and I wanted to meet new people and have fun and be a normal person. But it was loud, and crowded. The type of crowded where walking involves inevitably coming into physical contact with strangers that just makes you feel wrong. And I stayed for a while, but then was all like: Haha silly Keziyah. Just because you’re in a different country doesn’t mean you’re a different person. You’re still an introvert with social anxiety. Now go home and watch The Simpsons. And I was all like, you’re right, other Keziyah. So I guess I need to find social activities that don’t involve lots of noise and interacting with tons of people. Because I just cant.
I’ve been seeing more POC than I thought I would. Every time I see a black person, in my mind I’m always like “YAY BLACK PEOPLE.” But only see them in the center of the center, near Sol/Embajadores. The rest of Madrid is still generally pretty white.
I’ve been hyper-aware of how people perceive me as a black person, based on things I’ve read about racism here. So far things haven’t been horrible, but I’ve noticed less obvious things. Things that are so subtle that make you wonder if it’s racism, or if it could be something else. Like waiters in restaurants ignoring me, or not making eye contact with me, and instead directing their attention to my paler friends.
Like, I also wonder what security guards/employees think when they see me walk into H&M or Mango. The other day at H&M, it was a good thing that I was paying attention because the cashier forgot to scan one of my items. I thought about how it would have looked had I, a black woman, walked out of the store and the alarm beeped.
After almost a week of searching, I found a piso (flat). It’s in Salamanca, right next to a metro station. It doesn’t have a balcony like a wanted, but it has large windows with patio doors, which is the next best thing. It’s a big room too, compared to many others I saw. In fact, it’s the biggest room I’ve had since college. The price of 480 per month is steep, especially since I’ll only be making 1000 a month from my job. But I was willing to pay for what I wanted. Here are views from outside my window.
I really like being able to speak Spanish daily. However, here in Madrid lots of people speak English, or at least enough to sell you something. So once they hear my accent they might switch to English. That doesn’t help me if I’m trying to get better. So listen, Spain. I am a guest in your beautiful country and I’d like to speak your beautiful language. So just let me. Ok?
Oh, and I started Geocaching. I totally suck at it cause I haven’t found anything yet. But me and a few other expats here are considering doing the Banango race next month. That should be fun.
And I guess that’s it for now.
All photos by Keziyah Lewis.