This weekend, my program finally had its orientation in Madrid (even though I got here 2 weeks ago). Elizabeth and I were walking to catch our bus on Thursday morning, and ran into a whole group of Auxiliares from here in Valladolid. Turns out there are 26 of us in the city, which makes me feel a little ridiculous for not having found any of them yet. Also, apparently I did a really terrible job of looking for the facebook group, because it’s been around since like April. Whoops.
Anyway, Madrid! We got in around 12:30, and the whole group of us trekked over to the hotel. We seem to have gotten there just in time, since when we left 20 minutes later, there were about 50 people in line to check in (whereas there were 3 in front of me). I was randomly placed with two other Auxiliares, one British who’s teaching in Navarra, and the other French who’s teaching elsewhere in Castilla Leon. Elizabeth and I went with Catriona (the girl from London) to meet a friend of hers for tapas for lunch. We went to this incredible place called Txakolina, which I highly recommend if you’re ever in Madrid. They serve Basque-style pintxos, every single one of which was delicious, filling, and very reasonably priced. Elizabeth and I split two, and of course I forgot to take pictures of them.
Later that afternoon, we went to the Parque del Buen Retiro, which is one of my favorite parks, and maybe favorite places, in the whole world. It’s absolutely huge, and makes me want to explore Central Park further next time I’m in New York. Last time I was in Madrid, I think David and I concluded that we spent more than 20 hours in the park, and
we were only in Madrid for 4 days! So basically it’s the greatest. You should go.
Orientation took up most of Friday, and we spent both evenings hanging out with our newfound Valladolid companions. On Saturday, we went back to the park, and encountered an enormous group of peacocks! It’s not uncommon to see them in parks here, but I’d never seen baby ones before! We also found some feathers in the grass, which was pretty cool.
After watching the peacocks for a while, Elizabeth and I dropped our stuff off at the hostel where we were staying the last night, and then went to the Reina Sofia Museum. We’d both been before, but it’s free on Saturdays so we went to check out the temporary exhibits. I really enjoyed the exhibit on late Brazilian artist Lygia Pape (whom I’d never heard of). There was a whole room of really interesting conceptual drawings made entirely of straight lines, and an awesome wire installation (search “lygia pape reina sofia” for images).
We also stopped by the Caixa Forum, a sort of public service endeavor by a Catalan bank, where they have rotating exhibits. We saw a really interesting photo and documentary exhibit about Haiti just after the earthquake last year. We also saw the charming puppet you see to the left. I always forget how great museum gift shops are.
I was going to tell you about my first day of classes, and about what I made for dinner tonight (because I remembered to take pictures!), but now this post is really long, so more tomorrow!