After a safe flight, I have finally arrived in Spain – first stop of the itinerary. Although this is my second time visiting Madrid, there is still a sense of novelty. Physically the city has not greatly changed – buildings, streets, gardens remain beautifully preserved. Yet, there are signs of positive changes all around the city. First time I visited Madrid (about five years ago) I was purely a tourist enjoying the company of friends. Second time around, I am completely on my own with a full agenda.
Even though I have only been on the road for three days, traveling alone can indeed get lonely at times – perhaps another necessary adaptation. Every now and then, when I see a family or a group of friends walking together, memories instantly flash before my eyes – good memories, obviously – accompanied by a desire to share these moments with the ones I love.
Another negative aspect of being alone is the actual photographical documentation of the journey. I sure like to take pictures of the places I visit; yet, I also like to be in the photos. Thus, whenever I want to take a picture of myself, I have to stretch out my arm, face the camera towards me and do one of those limiting extreme close-ups. I have even tried using the self-timer gadget. But then again, it just becomes an awkward experience every time someone walks by. At least I am working on that aspect.
On the other hand, the positive side of being on your own is the capability of easily meeting new people. Yesterday, for example, I was eating at an Asian cuisine restaurant when I met an American couple. We briefly talked and I mentioned the project. Joseph and his wife were kind enough to pay for my lunch – they left before I finished my meal and I had no idea they had already paid for it. It’s just one of those good deeds that completely surprises you and eventually makes your day.
It does not surprise me, however, that such demonstration of good will has happened in Madrid. Indeed, the city has an overall feeling of social awareness. Right upon arrival, the airport welcomes tourists and locals with areas especially created to help the disabled and the hearing impaired. On my way to my hostel, I observed federal institutions created to assist different segments of society – be it due to economical, racial or even sexual differences. For example, “Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales” (Department of Labor and Social Subjects) and “Instituto de la Mujer” (Women’s Institute) further propagate the idea of social assistance.
Such involvement is also inherent to the population’s daily routine. For instance, it is not uncommon to witness posters of social and environmental projects glued to the walls of historical “calles.” And even though I am not a Spanish citizen nor have I have ever lived here, I am sure the city does present its problems. However, I have already visited several countries and I have only encountered such social commitment in a handful others.
Luckily, in such positive atmosphere, I have had the opportunity to personally encounter people of change. I have already started filming the second video and more information is soon to be posted. From the bottom of my heart though, I want to thank all of you that have been following the baby steps of this project. Hopefully, positive changes are along the way.