A bomb exploded in Madrid on Monday morning. I have never been in the same city at the same time as a bomb before, and I have to say the experience was profoundly peripheral. I wouldn’t even have known about the bomb if I hadn’t been sitting, shortly after 9 a.m., eating bacon and eggs in a little café in the suburb of Torrejon, staring at a wall TV and wondering if “una bomba” meant bomb or something else, something more boring everyday, possibly to do with firefighting. (I had just learned “bombero” the previous day when a fire-engine wailed by). It kept scrolling along the bottom of the screen, “estella una bomba” or something like that, “blah blah blah Juan Carlos I.” I didn’t even have a phrase book with me.
Perhaps I shouldn’t begin my story at the end. “Begin at the beginning,” the King tells Alice in Alice in Wonderland, “go to the end. Then stop.” So I should perhaps go back a bit, to a rainy Saturday morning in Rabat. The kids are grumpy at not being allowed to sleep in, and I’m already regretting my decision to wear light-colored pants as I notice a mud splatter on the back of my calves. The children are shocked and amazed at how light we are packing, but we are flying the misnamed “easy jet” (heretofore to be known as Complicated Jet…I’ll get to that), and they only allow you one carry-on per person. Since we are planning to do a fair amount of shopping in Spain, we take one change of clothing, our toothbrushes, and not much else. Ilsa is stunned to be told she can only bring one book; she brings a 750 page book and frets the entire time that she is nearly finished, although she isn’t.
Have you got the picture now? Are you in mode, to follow the Nomad family on yet another trip? A friend kindly drops us off at the station, and we take the train to Casablanca, scattering ourselves throughout a crowded car so only two of us are sitting next to each other.
At the airport, everything is fine. We’ve arrived in good time. The train station is located at the airport, which I think is brilliant–it’s so convenient. We buy sandwiches in an airport café but the kids are still hungry.
Boarding the plane presents no problem. At first I like “easy” jet. The plane is new and clean and orange and white, with average leg room. I don’t mind them not providing any snacks because they have low prices; you can fly Casa to Madrid for less than 30 euros, for example.
“I hope the plane lands and then bounces and then lands again,” announced Abel, but he was sadly disappointed. It was a quick, uneventful flight. We made our way through the Madrid airport. We had arranged to stay in a guesthouse on the outskirts of Madrid–a suburb called Torrejon–and we knew we needed to take a bus. It took us a while to find the bus stop, and then we bought and devoured a pastry so that we’d have change for the bus. Eventually we went out and settled ourselves at the bus stop.
It was 8 degrees celcius.
Last time we were in Spain, we heard of the elusive “every half hour bus.” This time, yet again, we were told by the lady at the guesthouse of a bus that left every 30 minutes. But it was Saturday. The bus comes once an hour on Saturdays, it turns out. Of course we’d just missed it! You know us by now! We sat there on the cold concrete bench for 55 minutes before that nice warm plushy bus arrived. Meanwhile, a slew of other buses, going other places, came every 5 minutes…
…to be continued.