Just another surreal night in Madrid

November 15, 2012

Yesterday was the 3rd General Strike of the current crisis. I went to work because honestly, I don’t want to go to protests, and staying home to watch the Simpsons and drink wine isn’t a political statement.

After work I figured I’d walk down to catch the metro in Atocha, maybe missing some of the strike-day transport chaos. Well, I apparently miscalculated, because by the time I got halfway down calle Atocha, I started to see the flames of the burning trash cans barricading the street. By the time I made my way around to Reina Sofia, the riot police were just arriving and the black bloc was fleeing in all directions into Lavapies.

The most interesting part of the whole thing, though, was that everywhere around the riot zone, people were carrying on as if nothing were happening. Old people were taking their after-dinner stroll, students were drinking beer and eating calamari sandwiches in the bars, tourists were walking around with puzzled looks on their faces. Nobody except the riot police seemed to give a fuck about what was happening.

I had to make my way around some more burning barricades to get through the whole Atocha area, and decided (based on what happened last time there was a protest and the police attacked people waiting for trains in the station) to just walk home. It was a long night.

Afterwards, when I was finally back in my neighborhood, I went to the corner shop for a beer. Nothing makes me thirstier than seeing other people run around! The Chinese guy who runs the place was on the computer, playing a farmville-style game in which he was—wait for it—managing a corner shop! He was apparently more interested in the game than he was in actually taking my money, I had to wait for him to finish restocking his virtual bottles of water and yelling (in Chinese) at his virtual employees.

Finally, he turned to me, took my 80 cents, tossed it in the cash drawer, and went back to playing his game.

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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