Wednesday, November 18, 2015

On being out of town...

Up early and out the door to catch a flight to Madrid we were like a  small storm cell on the move.  We were to meet my father and brother in Spain while on their homeward leg of a trip to Andalusia.

It took a while to sort out where the counter was to drop our bags off.  We'd printed our boarding passes the night before and thought we were in a good position to have lunch in Madrid and to visit a museum in the afternoon that we'd missed the last time we were there.

We hand over our paperwork to the man behind the counter and... um... wot's all this then?  We need our passports?  When did this start?  Ugh.  Our Carte de Sejour aren't sufficient?  Non! There's no time to rush back to the apartment and be back in time for our flight, right?  Geez!  OK.  OK.  What to do now?

Over at the ticket counter we sort out our Next Steps.  These include buying new tickets.  At near full price.  For a 17h00 flight later the same day.  That would give us just enough time to return home, have lunch, nap a few minutes, and head back out to the airport.

An easy start to our trip had been disrupted.  Oh well, such is life, right?

Our return to the airport went much easier the second time around.  Even though my arm was tired from pulling the suitcases back and forth, to and fro, it was good to climb into the aircraft and be ready to head to Madrid.  A little asperine would keep any dull arm pains at bay.

Once installed at the hotel we headed out to dinner.  We missed our reservation for a famous place down near the mercado, but found what looked to be a decent place just down the street.  Suckling pig and lamb shoulder were on the menu, so why not give it a try?

Well, here's why.  The lamb was overcooked by French standards and looked like something the Egyptians mummified.  We confirmed this was normal practice after seeing other mummified lamb remains being hauled out of the kitchen.  As for the suckling pig, all I can see is that it's an acquired taste.  Much like andouillette sausage is an acquired taste.  The flavor is, oh, how shall we say?  Different.

After such a long and arduous day I felt we could do with a nice bottle of wine.  Red.  Delicious.  Just what the Doctor Ordered.  It left us a little tipsy for the walk up the street to our hotel and very ill-prepared for what came next.

Flopped out on the bed I thought I should check my messages to see if there was anything from my brother.  They'd be coming up from Cordoba the next day and I wanted to see if there'd been any changes in their plans.  Nope.  Nothing from my brother.

Instead the tablet's HD screen was lit up with questions/chats/emails demanding to know if we were all right.  I didn't know what was going on but quickly told everyone I could that we were safe and sound.  Jude kept asking me to see what was going on, even as I was frantically trying to reply to everyone.  With the first round of responses out of the way, I checked the news.  Horror of Horrors, Paris had again been attacked.  This would be the second time in less than a year.

An odd and frustrating day had instantly turned into a nightmare.

All we could do was watch the nightmare unfold and to try and contact as many people we could to inquire as to their safety.

In the end, an MUA I know still hasn't heard from two friends of hers and a shopkeeper's husband has a cousin who was shot in the leg.  We've not caught up with everyone, but it's looking like most of the people we know are still thankfully with us.

We weren't sure what we were heading home to, but after a four day stay in Madrid we are happy to report that security is very tight here.  Finally, some would say.  The idea of an open and free Europe that stretches from Greece to Brittany served rather well some who would do us harm.  That's changed.

Jude said we shouldn't let the Bastards win by staying home.  So we went out for dinner to a place where the burgers aren't half bad and une coupe de champ is a prerequisite to any meal.  At first the place seemed a little empty.  Not bad, mind you, just not quite as bustling as it sometimes is.

I can't explain it, but it gives me comfort to recognize the faces of people we've seen as we walk the streets in our neighborhood.  I don't know their names.  All I know is that they live.  It's a joy to me to see them.

A nearby table was clearing out after three elders had finished their drinks (it was far too early for a proper French meal - those start after 20h00 normally and it was only 18h00 when we sat down).  The man stopped to comment approvingly about my increasingly bushy beard.  His wife did the same.  We wished them both a bonne soiree.

A few moments later the woman returned returned.

"Vous êtes d'ou?"

"Nous venons des Etats-Unis", I replied

"Mais nous habitons ce quartier, en fait" said Jude

"Vive l’Amerique!" the older woman exclaimed.

"Vive la France!" I told her.

With a broad smile she leaned in a little closer and said in a rather quiet voice "Merci."

A pastry shop in Madrid decorated their window with
this symbol of solidarity.  It's amazing how quickly
a meme such as this can spread.

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