First Stop – Mejorada Del Campo

AKA – Spanish Culture in the part of the Madrid that sleeps. (A Good thing!)

I arrived at Madrid airport to be picked up by my hosts and taken to Mejorada Del Campo straight away. Mejorada is something of a ‘suburb’ towards the outskirts of Madrid. It is still accessible by Metro and the majority of people live in flats/apartments or ‘pisos’. I had organized to stay with them with a website called ‘Workaway’, in which I had agreed to teach/ speak to them in English in exchange for food and accommodation.

Cue one of the greatest experiences/cultural exchanges I have participated in. As well as the start of some great friendships.

I had been in contact with my super friendly host Ruth for a couple of months beforehand (although most Workaway ‘placements’ can be organized in days- weeks), and was overwhelmed by how cute and friendly she was. She was quite excited that I was coming and even told me I could possibly join her on a roadtrip she wanted to do. To which my thoughts were … sure that sounds amazing, but you don’t even know me … I could be a psycho killer! (I have since learnt to trust strangers more :P) I had gathered they were a family of artists. The girls 22, and 25 studied film, and frequently made videos. Their father played in a band, and their mother made artisan crafts which the home was decorated with.

So I had high hopes. I love creative people and I love enthusiastic people.

However one of the funniest things happened once I arrived at the home. Their mother attempted to give me two kisses, a Spanish greeting where both people kiss the air and touch cheeks… twice. (I’m sure this can be explained better) However I had NO IDEA what she was doing. My reaction was laughable, and it continued to be laughable for many weeks until I grew used to it. I just felt uncomfortable being affectionate with complete strangers at first sight. British reticence I guess… and me. However, although I don’t like doing that, I love the Spanish attitude of hospitality and automatic closeness with each other. Truth be told I actually don’t mind the two kisses now, given that it is a catalyst for warmth between two strangers.

In the next two – three weeks I was able to:

  • Attend a Spanish Barbecue
  • Eat some Spanish food (Tapas)
  • Learn some interesting Spanish
  • Go to Segovia
  • View some places ‘behind the lens’
  • Explain some English
  • Go to a gig
  • Explore Mejorada & San Fernando
  • Explore Madrid

However what I did do immediately after I arrived was eat an amazing authentic Spanish lunch, and then sleep a jetlagged 12 hours… right through dinner. Something I felt terrible about.

After I left Mejorada I lived in Madrid for four weeks while I attended Spanish courses at Inhispania Madrid.