*You’ll have to excuse any editing errors, given my sporadic internet accessibility, there may be some spelling and/or grammatical erros. <—There’s one now.
On my third day in fickle-weathered Madrid, it became apparent that I needed to buy groceries for my apartment. When I first arrived I was so hungry, but most markets were closed due to Dos de Mayo Uprising, so my options were severely limited. I scoured the cupboards for food and made use of what was left behind: half a package of dried noodles and a can of lemon sardines. Let it be known that few things in life are as revolting as canned sardines, namely hairy knuckles on a woman or the joyous laughs of small children. But being desperately ravenous and without any other recourse, I developed a negligibly edible lunch that would definitely besmirch my cooking abilities had anyone else ate a modicum of a nibble. I couldn’t help but think that someone – anyone – on Top Chef could have made better use with these ingredients and ended up throwing out the majority of what was made. The garbage groaned and declared me a mortal enemy.
The following day I made my way up to Puerta del Sol, which translates literally to “Door of the Sun”, but appears to be more a door to the tourist conglomeration of Madrid. Puerta del Sol is a huge shopping district within Madrid’s city center containing large, four-story-plus department and clothing stores which accommodate the most cutting edge and fashionable items at somewhat steep prices. Like most plazas throughout Madrid, Puerta del Sol opens up to a large courtyard displaying ancient edifices sprawling in each direction. Off to one side I see an incongruously placed, but considerably busy, McDonald’s and wonder how many American tourists necessitated that build.
Inside one of the stores I try to buy groceries and toiletries, but I’m thrown off by the prices. Fingernail clippers are no less than 6 or 7€ and hand mirrors run around 50 to 110€. I skip the beauty section and make way toward hygiene. At this rate I can expect to find toothpaste for around 4 or 5 thousand euros.
Around the center of the courtyard was a flowing fountain and large seating structures that were being torn down by construction crews. Apparently I’d missed a spectacle, but part of one still remained where a motley crew of costumed characters walked around.
I found Mickey and Minnie.
And Cookie Monster.
A sad and possibly suicidal Hello Kitty.
And Minnie and Mickey. And…Mickey?
NO. AN IMPOSTOR.
Also throughout the center are droves of street performers with sheets or hats laid out in front of them to fetch payment for their productions. There were two shady-looking tattooed men dressed as clowns (and what I mean by “dressed as clowns” is they had on mismatched knee-high socks, a sullied red nose and the clowns said “honk” when they squeezed them and multicolored baggy pants that probably hid shivs. Or diarrhea. Or both.). There was an older shawled woman turning away at an aging, large-sized music box that emanated a melody that warbled pleas for a tuning gone long neglected. I asked the person next to me where the monkey in a fez was, but they ignored me.