Sunday, January 24, 2010
More on the Hood
I know some of my observations about life in Madrid must seem rather obvious to people who live or have lived in major metro cities like San Francisco and NYC, but every day I still find myself marveling at the convenience of living in an urban environment. I can't think of anything we might want to consume, purchase, experience or imbibe that can't be done or found within a 15 minute walking radius of our apartment. On our plaza alone there are eight cervezerias, 1 shoe store (we bought Brodie's school shoes there), a music school (Brodie takes movement and music here), an English language book store, a shop specializing in tea, a wine store, a flower vendor and a natural food shop. That's a lot of life just right there. I realize that upon returning to Austin or wherever, the biggest adjustment will be driving everywhere. Even in Austin where we lived walking distance from a park, shops and restaurants I often found myself driving just because of the heat and humidity. Ah! Another thing I love about Madrid - NO HUMIDITY. But back to convenience: last Saturday night we met some friends out who now live in our neighborhood so we decided to first hit a cervezeria that specializes in German beer. Before I knew it we were eating dinner at the Chinese restaurant just down the street (at 11:00 p.m. mind you) and then headed home. Our big night out was spent just one block around the corner from our piso - I love this. It's also nice to feel as though you're contributing to the financial stability of your neighborhood. It's clear by the many shuttered windows and for lease signs that lots of small businesses have not survived Spain's financial crisis. I try to shop in the neighborhood mercado as much as possible (instead of the big chain grocery store also just up the street) but I worry for these little guys. Every time I go in I seem to be one of maybe 5 shoppers in the entire market. You can tell that at one time this was a major market because of the number of stalls, but I'd say at least half of them are now closed. There's one man who is SO nice that sometimes I buy stuff we don't need just to buy something. On a totally different subject, we have a new baby! Well, it's actually the same baby (Sabine) but seemingly overnight she's developed a different personality. Not that she wasn't lovable and adorable before, but when she was cranky and super needy it was more of a disposition that only a mother could love. Just in the last few days she's like sunshine on a stick. She sleeps through the night, rarely fusses, is trying to walk, babbling all the time and really experimenting with communication and signing. Putting her down for the night has also become this miraculously easy process. We used to have to time it perfectly, rock her, then lay her on her side while patting her, and so and so on. Now she takes a bottle, we brush her teeth and then lay her down and that's it. THAT'S IT. So needless to say, we've decided she can stay.