Madrid owes us two passports

Trip Start Dec 21, 2009
Trip End Jul 17, 2010

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Flag of Spain  , Madrid,
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

With heavy hearts and a lifetime of memories we bid farewell to Latin America for the northern hemisphere. South America has been wonderful to us. The people there have been kind, the food has been great, the scenery stunning and the friends we've made priceless. It hasn’t all been smooth sailing. We’ve suffered through sickness, very cold, very hot, nasty people and grumpy days but I would go through it all in a heartbeat to do it all again. As we sat on the floor of the airport terminal and thought about our trip, knew that there was no better way to spend our money. One day our kids might wonder why they’re left with a hard drive full of pictures instead of an inheritance. Life’s tough kids.

We touched down in Madrid airport and got onto a train to the centre of town. A couple of train changes later we arrived at our hotel. We were excited at the prospect of sleeping in a proper bed and flushing toilet paper into a sewerage system that could handle it without spitting it back in our faces. Our excitement joined the toilet paper on its trip down the crapper when the concierge asked us for our passports and we were unable to produce them. We searched top and bottom to no avail. The search party was called off when we found a hole just large enough to fit two passports cut into one of our bags. Adios y buen viaje dos pasaporte. Close to 6 months in Latin America, travelling through countries where kidnappings, murders and drugs are commonplace and less than 1 hour in Spain is all it takes for us to have something stolen. With our passports went any chance of making our flight to Morocco the next day. When we told the concierge that we had our bag slashed, he knew we’d caught the train. Apparently this happens a lot to tourists in Madrid. Nic's pretty sure it was the guy wearing a purple shirt who was holding onto a jumper over his forearm. That's probably what was used to disguise his blade. Makes sense, who would carry a jumper when it's nearly 35 degrees outside? Needless to say for the rest of our trip I was on the lookout for purple shirted jumper carrying men to beat up. You could just see the headlines now, "Aussie tourist breaks innocent man's arm for wearing purple and carrying jumper" - and that was just me, imagine what Nic would have done if she'd found him!

Petty theft here is so common that they have a system where you can call a hotline to make a police report. You get someone who speaks perfect English who takes down all of your details. Then you go down to a station and get them to confirm the details and print out a report. A couple of stamps and a signature or two later and you’re done. It’s all very efficient. In and out in less than 10 minutes. But you have to worry when the process for reporting a theft is that streamlined.

We spent the next couple of days sorting out our passports and enjoying the rest of Madrid. We were actually due to spend time in Madrid after we'd visited Morocco, so we just decided to move our plans forward a few weeks while we waited for passports and flights to be sorted out. It’s a lovely city and we made the most of the long summer days, cool squares and yummy food. When it comes to curing meats, the Spanish know their stuff. You have to love a country that has a store called the Museum of Ham (Museo de Jamon). We spent some time enjoying a proper bed, checking out the sights and moving around on our own time. No schedules to keep to, just Nic and I walking the streets, watching some football (it helped that the Spanish were doing well in the World Cup), eating lots and drinking lots as well. We also checked out plenty of cool museums but I came to realise that I really don’t "get" modern art. My level of comprehension is so low that I can’t even tell you what I don’t get. Check out some of the examples in the pictures. We saw a can that was labelled “Artiste’s Faeces” which I could only take to mean that the contents was as advertised. Very arty farty (pun was poor but intended). We also saw a piece of art that was literally a few fluorescent lights stuck to a wall. All of that was enough to make my head spin. The only remedy was a nice tapas place and some icy cold beer. Thankfully that wasn’t too hard to find. Not all the museums were incomprehensible. Most of them were actually really good and truly world class. All that being said, Madrid’s definitely a city that we’ll be visiting again soon.

In our next blog, we get to Morocco after sorting out our passports and find out that the one thing I was banking on in Morocco fails to deliver. 
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