The Internet and Mexican Food

Authored By Brian

I landed in Madrid Wednesday afternoon and with my three bags in tow, had a very adventurous time navigating the metro. My arms were so sore yesterday morning from the carrying of some 60kg/125lbs of luggage up and down various flights of stairs and in and out of trains. In San Francisco, the MUNI trains have a small platform that pops up to cover the gap between the platform and the train making it easy to step without peril from one to the other. Europeans don’t believe in such frivolities although they do spend countless dollars on signage indicating stepping in the forbidden zone may lead to a loss of life or limb. This brings me to my only complaint thus far about the Pelican 1620 case I purchased – the wheels are too small and it’s too easy for them to get stuck resulting in a Charlie Chaplin-like slapstick routine of keeping your balance and baggage upright.

The first thing I did when I got into my hotel was lay down and let the sweat dry. A quickie shower later and I went out to explore the local attractions. Close by is Las Ventas, the premier bullring in Madrid. It’s very large and elegantly built out of red bricks in a coliseum type format. They have these really incredible 3’x4’ posters advertising bullfights this weekend that I am going to have to try and steal for my wall. I finished off my evening with some tapas at a nearby chain Cañas y Tapas for some croquetas con jamon and a mixed salad. In Spain, mixed salads always come with seafood, usually tuna, in them. I expected the same in Germany and Italy but found it was something they only do here. I am not a big fan of seafood but the tuna in the salad was pretty good. At some point I think I will be ready for some ranch dressing though since Europeans only use oil and vinegar.

Yesterday was the day I was supposed to go by the apartment I rented over the Internet, pick up the keys and meet the roommates. I hopped on the metro and after getting turned around a little bit at the Goya/Acalá intersection, found my way to c/ Naciones 12. It’s in a pretty nice area in a nice looking building but unfortunately that’s where the nice stuff mostly ends. The place is a little on the dirty side which seems to be a result of what even the Chinese government would admit to is overcrowding. Two couples, two single people and I are in what is really a two bedroom flat with a separated dining room. So much for finding a room on the Internet. When I first left, I considered simply never returning. I hadn’t paid anything yet and they only had my email address – what could they really do? I could probably find another room ASAP and be fine…

Unfortunately I am too conscientious to do that. I hate one thing in life besides nuclear warfare and carnies and that is people screwing me. Whether it’s business or personal, I always try to be a stand up guy because I remember the clients who jacked us up for tens of thousands of dollars in the VFIVE days or the guy that ripped us off on Ebay for a computer or one of the myriad other ways that some people leech off society and in their wake leave a line of fuming, angry people. People who would do some not very nice things to them if given the chance. The upside is that I’m going to Greece and Turkey this month with a visiting friend and will only be spending a little less than half the month in the apartment. If I stay in September, I think I will seek a little more relaxed space. The good news is that everyone seems very nice and speaks Spanish natively so I’ll be able to practice.

Tomorrow I am going to begin my “work abroad” program where I try to do some work on Pukka outdoors several days a week. The weather is gorgeous – about 33 degrees like it was in Rome but it’s drier and feels better. El Parque Retiro should be a perfect Central Park-like place to pull off my shoes and shirt, take in some sun, and do a little development. As geeky as that sounds, I can’t really think of many things better than breaking the bonds of traditional employment to enjoy the outdoors a little more.

Oh, so about the Mexican food. I have been longing for a Taqueria Cancun burrito pretty much since day one of my vacation and figured there would be at least a couple of Mexican restaurants in Madrid. I tracked one down that is well-reputed near Plaza Mayor and wandered around until I found it. I look on the menu for “Super Burrito” in one form or another and find they don’t have tacos or burritos!! I know those aren’t “traditional” Mexican foods but humor me and let me fill my stomach with some sweet pollo asado, rice, pinto beans, cheese, sour cream and guacamole all mushed together into a couple of steamed tortillas. Please?

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