July 2

Peaceful, happy travel day for the most part. I took the boys to Segovia and made a small mistake in the beginning. I got off at Atocha station and bought tickets when I should have gone all the way to the Chamartin station. But we made it, running, with five minutes to spare and sat in first class. It was only a 30-minute ride, which was super nice. Thing is, the train now drops you off miles outside the city so you have to catch a bus in order to get to the center. They must have done a lot of renovations within these past 11 years because there were many new buildings as well as some really great tourist spots.

Anyway, the bus drops you off right in front of the aqueduct and it really is a magnificent structure. We walked around it for a while, staring up at its grandness, and then got some churros con chocolate with fresh squeezed orange juice and then started walking toward the cathedral. Ok. That’s enough. There’s only so many cathedrals I can take. But the air was cool inside and we walked around counting the number of dead, bloody Jesuses.

We had lunch in a place called La Narizota. It reminded me of R. But not fondly. He’s kind of pissing me off. I’ve left him two messages and got no response, and Liam wrote him a big long email and he wrote him nothing in return. Typical, cruel and selfish. Then I wrote a big long email to everyone including him and mentioned something about me wanting to see the roadside graves of the Rojos–the leftists that the Nationalists killed in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. He wrote some big long explanation back to everyone saying the right side was the Rojos, not the left.  Then another email saying, “Oops. I was wrong. The Rojos were the Leftists.” What a jackass. His sister corrected him. Anyway, P wrote a big long email to Liam and Liam wrote back. How nice.

So after a long enjoyable lunch under an umbrella eating lomo a la plancha and gazpacho, melon for dessert and a café con leche, we meandered back toward the bus, bought  some souvenirs, had an ice cream and went home.

That’s when the fighting began…”He touched me,” “Yeah, well, he touched me first,” “I was playing with that,” “No, I was!” I quickly separated both boys and put them on a time out—on the train! I think they have had their fill of Spain. They both want to go home.

Dear Lord, I want that more than anything and yet, my job here is not finished. I realized yesterday in Segovia that I can feel okay here and actually thrive if only I pay attention to location. You see, what gets me down is the city and how dirty it is, and how overwhelming the people can be. I simply don’t like big cities, and, what’s more, I don’t like ghettos. And that’s where I am right now. In the ghetto. There, I said it. Vallecas is the ghetto. A proud one, mind you, but a ghetto nonetheless. Where Abuela keeps her shutters closed and doesn’t ever walk outside past dark. Where bars are on all the windows of basement and first floor apartments. And, it’s heartbreaking and uneasy having to walk past tenement buildings where dirty, emaciated people, with no running water collect on the stoop, eyeballing you to death with contention for all that you represent. Their eyeballs are glassy with poverty and suffering, and they drill holes in you, draining you of any small spirit of contentment you may have had. They say Spain is one of the happiest countries in which to live. Not here. To be happy, you need to get out of Vallecas.

Hey R, I have an idea…why don’t you just admit you hurt your son’s feelings? Why don’t you just say, “I’m sorry Liam. I didn’t know receiving emails was so important to you. And here’s another idea…stop talking to me through your seven year old. Be direct. If you have something to say, say it to me. And grow up.


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