Sunday, December 18, 2011

Not Quite Ripe for the Picking

This was quite a day with a bit of everything including almost getting pickpocketed. The day started out without incident, walking around looking for a puppet show that is supposed to be every 15 minutes; it is outside to accommodate the crowds. We found Micky and Minnie Mouse walking the streets like homeless mice. Later we saw Micky with another female mouse. Can male mice also be cads? Finally, we found the area where the puppet show is supposed to held, but nothing was moving regardless of our twenty minute wait in the cold. The temperature was 7 degrees Celsius today.

We returned to the Mercado to see the wares in the daylight. Still on display were mini-Marys, midi-Marys, and maxi-Marys with associated matching sized Josephs. Some Marys were larger than the barnyard animals. She showing off her status?

Walking to the cathedral, we heard music, perking our interest more. than it was. The church is traditional looking from the outside, but inside it is modern with vibrant colors. There was a group of people dressed in indigenous looking clothing, singing and dancing at the church front entrance. They performed for the 20 minutes we watched put started before we arrived, since we heard them. Later they followed us into the church for a service that was about to start disrupting any touristic events; they are stopped during services.
On the subway back, I watched this guy who didn’t seem quite right, but I couldn’t put my finger on why. He got on the metro car as we did and it was crowded. There was a short man to the side of us, looking at a map and staring at the route signs on the wall, looking confused. I pointed to the route map for the train we were on, but he didn’t acknowledge my assistance. I noticed that the ‘not quite right’ guy had a coat over his arm, strange since it was cold out. Then I felt the zipper move on my shoulder bag where my camera and extra lens are kept. It also had a smaller sized wallet with our day’s cash and my International Press card. The strap on the bag is not the longest, which I have disliked about it, but at the moment it was a blessing. When I reached to check the zipper, it was half opened and there was a hand there to greet my own. I glared at the man with the coat, but we had just pulled into a station. He said something to me to the effect of am I getting out, but it wasn’t our stop. Regardless, I wouldn’t have gotten off with him anyway. The map guy spoke to my pickpocket du jour, both getting off at a station other than what the map guy originally indicated wanting.

Cursing myself for my latent terrorism actions, after the fact I realized I should have stomped on the guys inner arch of his foot or yelled pickpocket at the top of my lungs, but during my traumas I keep my cool too well under control. Too many years of working the trauma until in hospitals has made me too rational when I am the designated victim. There must be something about me and Spanish speaking countries. I was mugged and then robbed two days in a row in Santiago, Chile, the latter being my birthday. That was a drag. The last time we were in Madrid, these two guys tried pulling a scam around buying currency on the street and then the 2nd fellow was a “police officer” who was going to arrest us for the illegal purchase. It fell through when the cop appeared too early, receiving the ire of his accomplice.

We had lunch at a local place. Two orders of ham, eggs, and fries with two small beers came to 28 Euros. We chose this place because it was so much cheaper than the other restaurants around. This city is expensive.

Returning to the room, we attempted a nap, but the hallway was noisy and I was still belittling myself for being a target. When we returned to go to the Prado, the streets were closed off for a demonstration, but we could not figure out what they were demonstrating. The Prado is free on Sundays, but after going to the tourism office, we were informed that the free time is only from 5-8 pm on Sunday. Three hours was more time than we needed; there is only so much you can take in without sensory overload. We did spend considerable time with Goya, El Greco, Rubens, Velasquez, El Bosco, and Brueghel. At 7:45pm we were done in and headed back to the post office metro station to return to the Mercado at night. Our timing was spectacular. They had started a Christmas laser light show on the post office building. There were thousands of people, the streets were jam packed for blocks. As soon as the fireworks started, we thought we had better work our way to the metro stairs otherwise we will be there for hours trying to get through the crowd. As it was, it was a tighter squeeze than Santa trying to get down a chimney after binging on all those cookies and milk left out for him.

The travel moral is: Even Mickey Mouse can be a louse. Be aware of Greeks bearing gifts, especially horses and Spanish carrying coats. Hold your bag tightly.
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