Well, yesterday I took my midterms. Hard to believe that my time in Spain is almost halfway over! This week completely flew by, too. It doesn’t seem fair that time goes the fastest when you’re enjoying yourself the most.
On Tuesday we made our first visit to the Prado Museum. I had been once before when I was stranded in Madrid four years ago, but I had forgotten about how beautiful the area outside is (and it’s not too far from my house here!). Thanks to my art history class from the fall, I seemed like a huge nerd and actually could identify a lot of the paintings and artists we saw. I totally geeked out when we saw The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymous Bosch—I wrote my final 6-page research paper for the class on it! Photos were not allowed, but as “Badass MC/Math Enthusiast” Kevin Gnapoor from Mean Girls says, “don’t let the haters stop you from doing yo’ thang.”
Shout out to my favorite art historian, Maria, and fellow Eunice-enthusiast/survivor, Claire!
Wednesday we had a group trip up to El Escorial, an old Spanish palace that is home to many things, most importantly the royal cemetery. The outside of the building is austere and gray, quite frankly very ugly. Back in the day when it was built (it only took 21 years!), the Catholic church was facing severe pressure during the Protestant Reformation from Spanish citizens about wasting money, so the plain architecture and appearance was King Phillip II’s way of stating otherwise.
I was simultaneously in the presence of 26 members of the Spanish royal family with 2 more rotting in adjacent rooms, biding their time until their bones can be put in their coffins. If walls could talk!
Additionally, and here’s where things get weird, El Escorial was built to honor St. Lawrence, who was burned on a grill. In order to remind the citizens of his martyrdom and sacrifice, the entire building is a grill. Yes, it is shaped like a grill. There are paintings of St. Lawrence on a grill, grills are carved into the doorways, the weather vain is in the shape of a grill, the backs of chairs are supposed to be grills, the list literally could go on forever. The jury is still out on this one, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that this is not the best way to pay tribute to someone’s death.
Wednesday afternoon I found myself in the barrio Lavapiés, a neighborhood known for its diversity and high immigrant population, for my midterm project (my exact instruction was to “go to the phone booths and talk to immigrants about racism in Spain”… not offensive at all). I was quite nervous to strike up an actual conversation with a stranger, so I ended up pacing back and forth in front of a Lebanese restaurant named Habibi because, let’s be real, if there’s ever an immigrant group I could pull this off with, it would be “my people.” After staring at the menu for 12 minutes too long, I finally walked inside and somehow used my desire to find baklava in this country as a way to talk to the owner. I ended up talking to Mohammed (not kidding) for about 20 minutes amidst the puffs of hookah, belly dancers, and Arab news channel rolling in the background. I was in my element—haha!
In other exciting news, I was running in the park this afternoon when I passed a girl wearing an ADPi Row Cup shirt. It turns out that she graduated from UCLA (boo) 2 years ago and has been working as an English teacher in Madrid ever since. I think we’ll end up meeting up at some point to talk about her job, which sounds awesome, so good news, I have another career to throw into the ring! It’s amazing to me how so many things have to go right for things like that to work out (if you want your mind blown, I’d love to elaborate on the story of my friendship with Charlotte). Hooray sisterhood that transcends all borders!
Tonight we have the goodbye dinner for my professor who is leaving this weekend. He’s only teaching the first half of our class, so we’ll switch to the other teacher from USC after our excursion to the North and a couple of weekend adventures of my own. It’s hard to imagine Madrid without our constant café-hopping, choice-of-club judgment, and never-ending bus snack provider.
In honor of father’s day this weekend I shall end this post with a quote from my dad’s favorite TV show, The Big Band Theory. “Good night and if there’s an apocalypse, good luck.”