Thursday, 24 February 2011
Madrid's most photographed piece of pavement is located in Puerta del Sol, or simply Sol, as the madrileños affectionately call the bustling square that lies at the heart of the city. Ironically, Puerta del Sol—Spanish for Gate of the Sun—is shaped like a half-moon. Sun or moon, it's always a busy place, full of people rushing to or emerging from one of the square's five entrances to the underground, queueing up to buy lottery tickets, waiting for a friend at the statue of a bear pawing at a strawberry tree (the heraldic symbol of the city) or simply sitting at the base of one of the fountains to watch the tourists, the street performers and, unfailingly, the square-jawed Latin-American migrants wearing bright safety jackets that read COMPRO ORO ('I buy gold').
It seems like a half-remembered dream now, that autumnal ride from Holland to Andalusia. Almost four months have passed since I set up camp in Spain—first in Seville, then, just after Christmas, in Madrid. I've grown accustomed to the fast-paced rhythm of the language and the slow-paced rhythm of life. I don't mind having lunch at three and supper at ten. I no longer think evil thoughts when the cashier at the supermarket takes her time to have a good gossip with one of the customers. And, most importantly, I've learnt not to frown at the size of a caña (think: a beer in a whisky tumbler). Actually, I wouldn't mind sticking around for a bit.