Madrid, Concluded.

Tonight´s my last night here.

I seriously can´t believe it. I don´t *want* to believe it.

It almost feels like that time when I was six years old and went to Jamaica for the first time, and at the end of the three weeks when I was told we had to leave, I cried and cried the night before we left, saying how much I didn´t want to leave. (I won´t cry. Promise.)

But things have been so good. I gained a friend and a sightseeing buddy from the States named Jesse, and we´ve out for the last few days. We´ve been to art galleries, cooled our heels at a park, taken in bullfights and flamenco, and had tapas with fellow travellers.

Today, we became a trio, joined by a guy from Vancouver, named Jeremy. We went to the Royal Palace, where we went from room to room, making jokes and snickering to ourselves. Then we walked on in search of gelato, which we eventually found. SO. GOOD.

Next was shopping … which was kinda short-lived. I did get a cute sweater from H & M, though.

And we decided between the three of us to cook a huge pasta dinner, so we went supermarket shopping.

Vancouver Dude (Jeremy) and I then accompanied Jesse from Portland to Chamartín train station, but not before having one awkward moment on the metro. A Spanish man, who´d been eyeing our American friend from his seat, approached us, and asked him, ¨Are you American?¨

Sensing a confrontation, Jesse instantly said, ¨Canadian.¨ I didn’t get what was going on at first, but later it became clear this man wanted to rant, and when he ¨discovered¨ we were all Canadian, his demeanor changed … and his ignorance of Canada – based on whatever stereotypes he picked up – showed loud and clear. We just smiled and nodded until he got off at his stop.

We talked about it afterwards, and reflecting on it, I have to shake my head at how much that must suck for genuinely nice people from the States who get harrassed travelling.

Jeremy also experienced an awkward moment trying to buy a couple train tickets. He asked a security guard for help, and asked if she spoke any English, only to have her respond in perfect English that (a) she didn´t speak any, (b) the travel centre was closing, and (c) he could buy tickets either by phone or the Internet. (Hmmm … you know, if she came to Canada and was in the same situation, no doubt the person she was asking for help would be waaay nicer about it.) In any case, he somehow worked it out and got one of them.

Meanwhile, Jesse is now on his way to Portugal. I think he´s uneasy about the unknown, travelling through the night in a sleeper car, not knowing what he´ll see when he wakes up tomorrow. But I think he´ll be just fine, especially when he gets down to the beach and dips his feet in that Atlantic water.

And now, with a minute to midnight Spanish time, my turn approaches. I am so not ready to return. But perhaps what I return to will be better than what I expect.

And besides … I´ve already reserved three guidebooks from the library on South Africa. So that might keep me busy when I get back :).