Last night I went for a walk and found myself behind the Plaza Mayor and in front of the San Miguel Market. I found a terraza, which now with the weather changing are on every corner, and ordered a glass of Rioja and olives. I watched all the tourists with their guides, and Madrileños with their children. As I went walking home I heard someone ask for a light and I said loudly, yo lo tengo. There was an older gentleman walking down the street. He was carrying a bag with a book inside. He thought I was talking to him. I explained that I wasn’t.
He started talking and one of the many public relations people in the streets, who give out cards for bars where you’re offered a free chupito or drink to enter, asked if we wanted to get a copa. The older man took the card. “You want to get a drink with me?” he asked. I declined politely and said I was just heading down the street to the vegetarian market to pick up some yogurt and then was heading back to my apartment. He said he would walk with me.
Down Calle Huertas we walked and every public relations person who offered us a card, he took. We began talking; he’s a writer. He writes novels and poetry. He travels to Madrid a couple times a year, but lives in Barcelona. I got to the store, bought my yogurt and he and I sat for an hour on the bench outside. We talked about politics, literature, travel, history, and life. This is what I love about the city of Madrid – people talk to one another; people aren’t scared of other people. We exchanged e-mails and both thought how wonderful it was to meet a fellow writer from a different country on the streets of Madrid. Oh, Madrid, how I love you.by