Culture Shock

Welcome to Madrid. My first excursion out of Morocco since I arrived 3 months ago. And an interesting re-introduction to the developed world. 
Uneventful flying took place, first to Casablanca and then to Madrid. Given that the flight time to Casa allowed the flight attendant to speak the “take off”, “welcome” and “prepare for landing” messages, in 3 languages, in very rapid succession without pause, it was pretty fast. My connection in Casa was the expected shit show. It looked like I had to change terminals but no. I traveled at a good clip and found myself in a transit hall that looked like immigration at JFK on a busy day. No signs. No indication. Nothing. Just a whole lot of people from Senegal. A LOT. And old as the hills. And of course, my luggage did not make the connection. I don’t know why but I was playing fast and loose with the packing and didn’t pack overnight stuff in my carry on, or bring just a carry on and buy a bag here for shopping. But I didn’t. Lesson learned. Stupid rookie mistakes. I have no one to blame but myself. 

So my first stop after the hotel was the department store El Cortes Ingles. I had read that it has everything and I decided since it was late afternoon and I was really tired, that I would check the place out and call it a night. HOLY SHIT! I thought it would be one building. Who wouldn’t? The store I wandered into had 9 floors. OF STUFF. No clothing or shoes. That was in another building entirely with 8 floors. but I didn’t know that so I kept going up saying “Holy Shit” on every floor. I have not had a shopping experience like this since the Hand store in Japan. There are (I think because I lost track) 3 escalator banks, and each one, up and down, takes you to a whole new world of merchandise. There is literally nothing you could not buy. Every escalator stop illicited a mumbling of “oh dear God what fresh new world is this now?” There was a whole floor of books, one for electronics, one for musical instruments. If you want to buy an electric guitar or piano I can hook you up. And stylish? Jesus the Spanish have beautiful taste in things. So pretty. I spent an hour in bedding. The furniture floor was right out of my dreams. But what good is this when I have to fly and can’t take anything with me? Or when I don’t actually NEED anything. 

There was another building as I mentioned for clothing and purses and perfume and cosmetics and shoes. Another with 6 floors for athletic gear and another for books. Another BUILDING. For books. 

So after my known disdain and utter boredom with the state of shopping in Canada which consists of the exact same stores in the exact same format in every city and once empty field all over the country, followed by 2 months of unloading everything I own in order to move, then 3 months in a medina looking at babouches and carpets, you can only imagine the head splitting fantastical whirring noise inside my head when I arrived in Madrid. Because I may have once been the ultimate consumer, and my initial reaction was “Wow. WOW. Whoa. Where do I start?” But it ended up with….I don’t need any of this shit. I just don’t. 

Other random things that I noticed here:

In Morocco I am never without water and tons of it. Here not so much. When I order it in a restaurant I think they are thinking “with liquor in it?”. Because coming from a country where liquor isn’t really a thing, to Spain, well…’s different. Wine and beer. The stuff of life. Day drinking is mandatory. On a fixed menu you can order a beverage and they offer wine, beer and Coke. No extra charge. No judgement. Unless you don’t order liquor. Then this quizzical look and shoulder shrug. 

I finally found a bottle of water at a store on my third day. Thank goodness. I was parched. 

These folks drink a lot of Coke. Which surprises me because you don’t really see that elsewhere. It’s like a freaking commercial.  And you can clean your car with the stuff so I thought it was sort of dying out. So there’s that…but yah, a lot of Coke. A lot. 

The gene pool is a funny thing. As soon as you land at the airport it’s apparent who is Spanish and who is not. Very very apparent. It’s an amazing thing genetics. 

Pork products. Bacon. Prosciutto. Ham.  Jambon. Jambonerie.  Little piggies. #porkwitheverymeal#theotherwhitemeat Bacon. Glorious glorious bacon. 

Sneakers. If you need sneakers, please come to Madrid. There are more stores that sell sneakers than there are penguins at the South Pole. And shopping in general is out of control. I have seen about 5 of each brand store. H&M, Strativarius, Tous, Pandora, Nike, FootLocker, Adidas. Any brand. 5 stores minimum. And that’s within walking distance of the hotel. WTF? There is ONE of each in Marrakech. ONE store. Maybe.  People go there and buy things they need. They don’t develop an incontinent need to buy that blouse they saw half way home and need to stop instead of going back. What the hell is wrong with us? IT’S TOO MUCH!!!

The homeless have dogs here. Cute ones. Haven’t seen that since I lived in Victoria and the government gave an extra supplement for pets. Huh. 

No one pays any attention to you here. It’s like Toronto. Well, any big city really. Every man for himself. I’m a watcher though so I do pay attention and notice people not paying attention to me. I could walk around with a sucking chest wound and still be invisible. It’s like the GO train on a Tuesday morning. I think this might be why people are so stunned by the attention they get in Morocco. It’s not that Moroccans are aggressive. It’s that everywhere else is dead inside. 

Oh, and right now? I’m sitting at a bar. AT the actual bar. Drinking a beer. Three men to the right of me and 1 man to the left. And a flirty bartender. And I’m by myself. AT the bar. And you know what else? I’m happy about it. And you know what else else? I’m going to get up and walk out of here in 5 minutes and not one of these men would be able to describe me to the police in 20 minutes. Because no one is paying attention!!! 

Oh and one more thing. BACON. 

If you aren’t following me on Facebook you should because I’ve taken to posting photos of people taking selfies. 


  1. raincitygal

    Omg, I have not laughed so hard in weeks.
    “…everyone else is dead inside”. This has got to be one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read – thank you for the belly laugh – I totally needed this!

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