My Madrid Bucket List
I’m sure that those of you that have been living in Madrid for a couple years or longer, whether you are TEFL teachers, teaching English in Madrid as an assistant, studying, etc know the feeling of having “seen it all, done it all”.
You have visited the museums and done the weekend day trips. You’ve spent hours in Templo Debod (or your preferred park) botellon-ing (a Spanish term which means -essentially getting your drink on with as many friends as possible in a public plaza, park, etc.), tanning (in my case, burning) and even exercising! Four years ago I studied in Madrid when they did the drum circle in Retiro on Sundays. You truly missed an authentic cultural experience if you didn’t live or teach in Madrid during that time.
Even being a Madrid veteran I still haven’t experienced EVERYTHING I’d hoped to while being a teacher here. I WISH I had found a piso (apartment) with a rooftop terrace, those go so quickly though! Or that I had been swooned by some Latin-Lover-Javier-Bardem-look-a-like after a night of listening to Spanish Flamenco guitar, like that scene in Vicky, Cristina Barcelona. We would get married or at the least I’d have a kid and stay as long as I’d like without having to visit Aluche ever again. Since I’m in a relationship already, it’s probably too late for that.
I’ve mentioned what experiences in Madrid I have under my belt and talked about my fantasies, which at this point aren’t going to happen. Here is a more realistic bucket list of 3 things I’d like to do (and plan on doing) before leaving my post as an English teacher in Madrid. Waaaaaah I’m going to miss this city.
I first heard about this sunny little hide away last fall from one of the Spanish teachers at the school I teach at. She had gone over the summer with friends and was telling me about it while showing me pictures. A change up from the typical pool option to cool off in the summer time, and super beautiful! The best part about it is that it’s not SO easy to get to (like a pool would be) so there aren’t as many foreigners/tourists. I can’t get enough of a truly “local” experience. Or hanging out in a place I don’t have to hear annoying American girls say “like” 15,000 times in one sentence. Sun, heat, Spanish, water, secluded Madrid. What more could you ask for? I’m going when it gets warmer. Can’t waaaaaaaait!
This teensy tiny Pueblo north of Madrid was listed in 20 Minutos newspaper a couple weeks ago as “Lugares con encanto de Espana” (Charming Places in Spain). It’s close enough to make a day trip of it (just 60km from Madrid) and is a gorgeous valley good for hiking and hill climbing. The buildings and houses are mostly made of slate and present an ageless feel to the village. With a population of only 354, it’s an ideal place to escape the city for a day of exploring a different side of Madrid with friends! I know there are some people that teach English in small pueblos such as this one, and it’d be interesting to see what a day in their life is like. Skim the list for yourself though, you might find something you’d be more personally interested in.
3. Paying homage to a city I love
It’s no secret that I love Madrid. I have enjoyed living here and have been so lucky to teach English in Spain for the 2 years that I have. That being said, I want to find a way to have a part of me here, even after I’m gone. I know that this is real life and not a romance novel or movie with some big teary eyed ending packed with cheesy and overacted “I’ll never forget you” lines, but it’s still always nice to feel like you have some sort of ties to a place that impacted you so much.
I heard a rumor that you could pay homage to Madrid by setting a turtle free in the botanical gardens at Atocha, only to go and find out it was an urban legend. The turtles are actually there though, and you cannot tell me that would not have been really cool. Setting a little Franklin free.
But the other day a coworker had a great idea of getting caricatures done of the four of us English assistants and leaving them at the school where we teach to hang on the walls. We’ve been fortunate to teach English at an extraordinary school, and many of the bonds I have made are with the students and staff there. I would have never dreamed of being a teacher while in college, but being an English teacher for the past two years has broadened my perspective, opened doors to many new and even challenging experiences, and changed me in inexplicable ways. I love the idea of giving something back to the school where people will actually laugh at it later and appreciate it. Does anyone know where I can find an artist to do the caricature? Just kidding.
If you are leaving Spain soon, or if you were, what types of things would be on your bucket list? -Jamie James
*Please note that the images used for La Charca Verde and Las Patones in this article are not my original photography. They were found using Google Images as this is a bucket list of things I hope to do and haven’t been in person. All other images are mine. ENJOY!