09 Apr An Ordinary Day in Madrid: A Walk-Through
Vanessa Uzcategui walks us through the events of her typical day in the city of Madrid, Spain.
It seems I have 82 days until I leave Spain. 82 days seem like nothing now that Bradley returned from Mexico so we don’t have to do the long distance thing. Now that joining him on the other side of the world is no longer a daily concern, I have plenty of room to start missing Spain before I go. I have taken little getaways and day trips here and there since my last entry, but the last three months have not been monumental in terms of travel. So I stopped blogging and let daily routines get a hold of me. It was not until recently that I started to shift focus and look at my everyday as if I was an outsider who has never lived abroad. I used to be that person, and I used to love reading blog posts that shed light on not only the exciting things about living abroad but the very ordinary ones, too. Those were always my favorite entries. I used to imagine my excitement would never wear off if I lived in Europe! But alas, it has. Somewhere between my 3+ hours commuting and social juggling, the fun parts began to feel like chores. The once beautiful cobble stone streets blended with the quintessential Spanish balconies. The once outstanding cathedrals faded in the background.
The start of April makes me feel like time is running out. I am already submitting job applications to schools in Mexico, and I just booked my last trip to Barcelona. I am becoming more mindful now – noticing, seeing, smelling, touching. I was frustrated last weekend because I still feel like I have not traveled Europe as much as I thought I would. “I just want the full European life. I love Europe. Europe is my baby!” I whined to Bradley while he chopped onions for the lasagna. “But you are living in Europe. You go to work here, you pay rent and you are dating a European man. Europeans don’t travel all the time. If anything, what you are doing is what Europeans do.” He straightened up my perspective. I am living here (with some travel benefits).
When I moved to Spain I was not sure how long I would stay, but I was open to forever. It’s been nearly two years, and almost every day I use public transport without reading any signs because I know the way by heart. I am a regular costumer of two restaurants in small town Algete (to the point where if I don’t have cash on me, I can pay for my drink and tapas next time I go). I am 100% aware that the bathrooms are clean in the bus station, but I should carry toilet paper in my pockets. I avoid going to Sol (the “Times Square” of Madrid).
Every morning, I take the 15 minute metro ride with toilet paper in my left pocket and my transportation card in my right one. I know to take off my jacket and put my hair up in a bun beforehand so I don’t suffocate. My backpack is always in front of me, hand over zipper. I ride the jam-packed metro ride to Plaza Castilla. Most people exit in this stop, popping out of the metro like a champagne cork and rushing up the escalators. Vicious elderly women will drag you like water current, and young adults will swing past you, blowing much needed air in your face.
The rare days I don’t bring breakfast with me, I pick up a Café Americano (which is just black coffee) and a croissant (make it an empanada on rough mornings) at Hello! for less than 2 €. Then, the green bus going to the suburbs arrives. This is my dreaded one hour ride with city traffic to small-town Algete in the mountains, northeast of Madrid. I lean against the window on the right side of the bus so I can take a good look at the mountains on the left. I eat breakfast and become absorbed in a book or a song, answer WhatsApp messages or check Instagram. Sometimes I appreciate what’s out the window, but the novelty of it is gone.
I arrive to school feeling rested from the weekend if it’s Monday, but feeling crappy after Tuesday. I assist teacherin all grades. My favorite classes are 1st grade English and 2nd grade Science. My least favorites are anything from 4th grade up. I do enjoy Mondays a lot. School goes from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm with a two hour lunch break where I get a lot done: writing, lesson planning, flight prices monitoring and boring errands. I basically do everything I know Netflix won’t let me do when I get home that night. I usually bring lunch with me, but sometimes I go out for decadent Spanish stuff under 5€ – the perk of working in Algete. My recent go-to is a toast with goat cheese and caramelized onions. I’ve been unconsciously turning vegetarian ever since I discovered that I LOVE the taste of chickpeas and tofu (not together).
After school I give private lessons to six children below 5 years of age and one 13 year old. I have gotten to know my little students well and I look forward to their hugs and smiles. My 13 year old student is a brilliant boy who helps me keep up with technology. These private classes are the part I will miss most from my work days in Spain. Typically, I get home close to 8 pm, drained from continuous lively interaction and an often sickening bus ride. As quickly as possible, I cook, shower, and have dinner while watching one of my go-to shows such as Jane the Virgin or Chef’s Table. Then it is off to bed, where I will fall asleep faster than my students can sing the ABC’s.
As in most nights and days, the alarm goes off too soon; I can never tell if it is Bradley’s or mine, but we snooze either way. My first thought is to get to my Moka Pot so as the dark coffee brews my heart beats again. Another day living where I have always wanted to live.
The best way to get around in a new country in by speaking the native language! Prep for your trip to Spain by learning the Spanish language now!