I am finally (!) moving to Ohio. The deal is inked in and we are returning to the Land of Not-So-Much-Plenty-Anymore. After seventeen years, it is time. I am looking forward to living in my own home, the use of large appliances, and a routine. Many kind people have warned me that I will be bored. I am sure they are right but as my mother says, I know how to entertain myself. Besides, it will take me at least a year to put everything away.
When I wrote my post yesterday (tee hee) I was obviously joking. There are many things I will miss about Madrid and I will lay them out below. It saddens me to say, however, that I will not miss the populace. Certain Spaniards I will certainly miss. But in general, the grumpy/surly/unhelpful/haughty person on the street will not be missed. If I had not lived in Brazil, perhaps this would not have affected me as much. Feel free to file this sentiment in the Expat Fatigue column; my patience has been severely tested. It also must be stated that outside of the capitol city, the paisanos are much friendlier. Bottom line: you can love a city but not the people (and vice versa).
So what will I really miss about Madrid? CBG basically wrote my post for me in her answer but I thought I would elaborate, in order of importance. Remember, this is from the view of an expat and I am sure I will inadvertently omit something.
1) CBG forgot to mention St. George’s Anglican Church. Love the people, love the church, love the pastor. After no church life in China, it is such a privilege to be able to attend.
2) Bible study with the women of St. George’s. No pretense, no posturing, no self-righteousness, just fantastic fellowship!
3) The Museums. Italy scandalized me. All that art and so inartfully displayed! The Prado, the Thyssen Bornemisza, and the Reina Sofia have mastered the art of curating. Even if you get tired of the Spanish art in the Prado, there is always a wonderful exhibit to visit.
4) The Plaza Mayor. Recently, Thing 2 has become a coin collector. On Sundays after church we head to the Plaza Mayor. He wanders with his father amongst the coins and Thing 3 and I sit at a table, read, people watch, or chat. The performance artist Fat Spiderman and his antics never fail to amuse.
5) The weather. This winter has been super fine, almost like a Southern California winter without the pollution. There is pollution here, just not as much. The blue, blue sky is a joy to behold after the gray, gritty air of Shanghai.
6) The beer. Tied with Mexico for a beer michelada is the caña. Ice cold, no matter the season, this draught beer it is yummy. I like the cheap stuff, Mahou. Followed close on the heels is tinto de verano, a light summer drink made of red wine and a lemonadey mixer.
7) Madrid, as mentioned by Mrs. Nato, as a travel portal. I have loved traveling around Spain and Europe. This has been a dream come true for me personally. Road trips, in particular, are a special way to enjoy the country, to get a feel for the landscape and the history of the country. Imagining Ferdinand and Isabella with their children traveling in caravan around the whole of Spain lends a certain appreciation for their vision and reign. (Today we worry about children traveling for over two hours in a car and plane but these children spent many a month walking or riding a horse.) This is actually #3 on my list.
8) Book Club. We actually discuss the books!
9) Almonds and olives rank just as high as the ham and cheese.
10) The red poppies that bloom in the spring out in the country.
CBG, Mrs. Nato, Nittany Kitten, and I all had different Madrid realities. CBG lived downtown near a beautiful park. Mrs. Nato had her military friends and delivered a baby in her own home. Nittany Kitten had her own activities. Our lists all look different, based on our own tastes and interests. The common denominator is that we all made the most of it, we all made a few friends for life, and we all will never forget this period of our lives. ¡Olé!