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Saturday, 01 September 2018

Madrid: The Literary City of Amor - Page 3

Written by Caleb Gonzalez
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Walking through the letters district, I continue to find poems, phrases, excerpts, and quotes from novels printed in gold letters on the streets. The words are an active part of the city. I stop and read every single word and I go back to read the ones I missed. For some reason, even though the words shine in gold, they are in fact easy to miss.

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And I think about love after reading a question from the famous play Don Juan Tenorio by José Zorrilla…

¡Ah! ¿No es cierto ángel de amor, que en esta apartada orilla más pura la luna brilla y se respira mejor?

Then I find the famous beginning to the most revered novel in all of Spain. Right there. Printed on a street full of pedestrians: En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no ha mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín, flaco y galgo corredor… Don Quijote de la Mancha – Miguel de Cervantes

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The words became the catalyst to the novel that advanced the idea that people, indeed, were able to exercise their imagination. They didn’t need to hold back. That despite their circumstances, they were still able to hope. They were still able to dream. As I read the words on the street, I too, remember the meaning of hope and the power of an imagination. I stand on the street, observing the words of Cervantes, and I imagine what my future might hold and what it can be. I imagine myself, a writer at his desk.

* * * *

Traveling on the metro, I get off on the Arguelles stop close to the city center and go down to the basement of the nearest Corte Inglés, the department store, passing used and new bookstores. On Mondays and Wednesdays, the 100 Montaditos Bar offers one-euro sangrias. I step up to order.

“Name please,” the cashier says.

I tell him my name and he asks me to spell it.

“Where’s your name from?” he asks.

I’ve gotten used to people not getting my name right in Spain and later asking me questions about it. I gravitate to my default answer. “It’s Arabic.”

The young cashier brings out a few little sandwiches filled with slices of tortilla de patata and fluffy Manchego cheese along with my one-euro maroon colored sangria. Nobody else is in the bar. He takes a seat next to me. “Arabic” he says in Spanish. “De donde eres?”

“United States” I say. “Are you from Madrid?”

“I’m from Galicia. The northwest part of the country. A city called Vigo.” He says extending his hand to me. “I’m Xoel, nice to meet you.”

“Yeah, nice to meet you” I say. “So what do you do? Do you study?” Xoel gets comfortable in his seat.

“No, I moved to Madrid to get a better job. I’m studying at the police academy in Madrid. I wanted to be a police officer but in Galicia, the police academies aren’t the best, so I had to move here.”

He looks at me eager to tell me his story. Xoel’s words become a part of my quest to find the hidden stories of Madrid. This is one of them, and so I listen.

(Page 3 of 4)
Last modified on Saturday, 01 September 2018

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