Saturday the 9th
It is 4:50 – departure time. I have made myself comfortable in seat 8F of the 737, a small plane that holds only the capacity of 25 rows of chairs. The delay to depart draws on due to the traffic above France which has caused congestion in the expansive airspace, such that we must wait for an available slot. My airport experience at Schiphol was swift and efficient. The mechanisation of multiple processes such as check in and baggage drop decreased queuing time to a fraction of the time and was all the more thorough. I didn’t need the hour I had reserved to get through customs – I could have had another coffee with my parents before I bade them farewell. My two weeks away were due to begin, a time so short, but long enough that mum succumbed to tears as I walked through the gate and out of sight.
Mum makes a point of reminding me of lots of things that are often unnecessary or very repetitive. Sometimes, I wish she would remind me of something a bit more useful like “go to the toilet before you step on the plane since you have a window seat and will have to disturb everyone when you have to go pee.” Thanks mum.
An announcement was made to the cabin at half-past-seven informing the passengers that the descent into Madrid had begun. I was treated to the view of orange fields as the aircraft dipped its wing in a turn to reveal a birds eye view from my window seat. The flat landscape was not dissimilar to the mosaic made by canals through the dutch countryside, but instead featured expanses of dark forest which broke up the sunburnt plains.
The flight landed in Madrid before 8:00pm but the sun was still bright and the temperature had not yet started to cool from the scorching 37 degree heat of the day. I was tired but intrigued by the new people and colours and smells that invited my senses and was suddenly animated by curiosity and excitement! I bought a ticket for the metro and found my easy way to the Tryp Chamartin Hotel. Of course I have little spectacular to say regarding the quality of the budget hotel, except that it sold gazpacho in the vending machine outside the elevator. It was a comfortable nights sleep after a late night and long day. My impressions of people and place remained unwritten for the evening, for I was too tired to be so perceptive and was in bed before long. On a side note, I have realised another reason I still keep a travel journal. Once upon a time it was a nice practice for my journalistic interests, yet now I am far more serious in my dedication to writing and I understand that this script often replaces the social contact I would have if I were traveling with a friend. Here, I write my monologue that would otherwise be externalised to friends or family but in this sense I am writing to my abstract companion, my journal.