Having inadvertantly booked myself into the gay quarter of MAdrid, Saturday seees me rise early, on the hunt for breakfast. But Madridians dont rise early, especially it seems, gay ones, so I wander towards the Prado, a museum which I´m hopefully going to see Picasso´s Guernica. Of course, in keeping with the spirit of this adventure, I have no idea if Guernica is actually in the Prado or not. I just assume that it is because I know Guernica is in Madrid and I know that the Prado is a big museum. It must be there.
Landing again in a new city rekindled the emotions of landing in Halifax, knowing no-one. The world becomes massive, full of possibilities. There´s people to meet so I throw my passport into the safe at my hostal and hit the streets. At O´Donnell´s Irish bar, I meet a waitress. As soon as I see her name badge, I know;
"Where abouts in Canada are you from , Shana?"
"Hi, well how the heck did you know I was Canadian, eh?"
She´s struggling to speak over the noise of the big screen tv which is showing the Stanley Cup final between Detroit and Pittsburg, a game she can hardly keep her eyes off. Shana´s about twenty three or four and has that disgustlingly healthy natural appearance that only sporty young Canadians and Aussies have, but the hockey fixation, I tell her, together with the Canadian inflection that manages to insert several "R"´s into "buenos dias" is the giveaway.
Shana´s from St Catherine´s and like so many people in MAdrid, came here backpacking over a year ago. We chat for a bit, but soon I get restless. There´s hockey on one screen, Liverpool Football Club´s Spanish striker Fernando Torres on another screen, and I´m in an irish bar talking to a Canadian. Time to go, this is all too familiar - the whole idea here was to immerse in the unknown. I head off into the night, although not completely solo, as I´m in constant contact with Dave, photographer friend, via text messages.
Our party, Dave, myself, Dave´s friend PAul meet up later, and get drunk. We agree to go to a bullfight the next day, it´s "only fifty euros" we tell eachother. I make a point
"Can´t tell Nel though, Dave´, she´d freak"
"Yeah, Megan would freak as well"
"Yeah, Eve would freak as well"
There´s a short silence.
"Perhaps we could just watch a footy match"
Agreement all round, with a palpable sense of relief. Hemmingway we are not.