I feel a little bit less like an American in a foreign land and a little more like a real resident in Madrid. For months I have simply been the smiling foreigner in our community: the guy anxious to practice his spanish with any willing soul. I’m sure most people thought I’d only be around for a year and then I would disappear. Last evening demonstrated for me that I have advanced to something a bit higher up the ladder. Yes, I am a foreigner, but it is becoming more evident to the folks of our neighborhood that I am here to stay.
I was walking home from the prayer meeting at church and talking on my cell phone with my Spanish friend David. We were working through some details of Julie and I’s possible involvement in a christian summer camp. When I was a couple hundred meters from our apartment, a man named Mussá from Guinea Bissa interrupted my phone conversation. After hanging up the call with David, I offered to buy Mussá a drink and we walked to our nearest, filthy, smelly, coffee shop bar.
Our conversation really only lasted as long the walk to the coffee bar. Inside, 10-15 boisterous men vied for attention of the group, laughing loudly at their own jokes. Mussá and I did chat some, but we were interrupted by the store owner’s son showing us his football scars, an older spanish gentleman attempting to sell a CD of his very own flamenco originals, and a 20 something Palestinian man lamenting the economic crisis.
Walking home, I couldn’t help but smile and thank God for feeling a bit more comfortable in this environment, and that my neighbors are starting to stop me on the street and trying to sell me their cd’s. They are treating me more like one of their own.