Today is the first day of my life that I've ever been in Spain. But it sure doesn't feel that way. After 7 months in Latin America this year, the streets of Madrid seem refreshingly, wonderfully familiar to me. It's very similar to what I felt when I first reached England: England is in many ways so similar to Australia — my home — that it was hard to believe I'd never been there before. Likewise, Spain is in many ways so similar to South America — my second home — that arriving here was more of a nostalgic than a culture-shock sensation. Dios mio — ¡es muy bueno estar aquí!
It's been 3 full months since I was last in Spanish South America (i.e. in Argentina). Since then, I've been in Brazil, in the USA, in England, in Italy, and in Central Europe. And it wasn't until I arrived here today, and started soaking in the cityscape around me, that I realised how much I've missed the Latin world. Things around me — most of them little things, but significant things nonetheless — kept on making me smile, again and again. Shopkeepers shouting at neighbours out of their windows. Friends and families walking down the street in groups of 20 or more, audible from 2 blocks away. Drivers screaming at each other, ignoring traffic rules, and playing cat-and-mouse with fearless pedestrians. Signs saying "compro oro", "talleria", "verduras", and "carnes frescas". Music... music that you can sing to, dance to, live to. Love to.
This afternoon, the first thing I did in Madrid was go for a walk around the city centre. And I saw all of this. And... ay, ¡mi corazón! Just seeing it all, hearing it all, smelling it all: I can't explain how or why, but just being immersed in that world again, it made me so happy, so warm and fuzzy. I could have wandered all day. Perhaps I did — if not, then I should have. Spain is definitely one of those places that makes me think: what took me so long to get here?! No sé — pero ahora que he llegado, quisiera nunca irme. And if you can't translate that in your head, then you wouldn't understand where I'm coming from anyway, so don't bother :P.