Viernes el 19 de abril
Arrived barajas airport, Madrid, very tired, very hot and sticky afyer 30 hour flying, met up with Rebecca, Lorraine and Sandy and managed to negotiate the Madrid Metro with all our bags! No mean feat as the train was pretty busy. I was very quicky reminded of the “Metro mentality” of holding easy exit doorway positions as we endeavoured to squeeze past “door holders” who made no effort to move and make space for us – stared intently at techno devices as if we did not exist!
I parted company at Plaza de Espana to go to Santa Domingo and almost fell foul of Metro thieves; as I was riding an escalator it suddenly shuddered to a halt. My suitcase was cumbersome and now I would have to carry it up the escalator stairs! A young boy from the family behind me came to my aid and lifted the suitcase for me to help me carry it to the top. “How kind”, I thought. “Muchas gracias, muchas gracias” I said gratefully.
Two escalators later, the same thing happened – this time a lady who was in front of me came to help me. It was rather awkward and I had to lift my arms to help balance the suitcase. I felt my shoulder bag being pulled from behind and turned round to find nimble fingers pulling my glasses case and my headphone case out of my bag! I glared at the owner of the fingers and he dropped them quickly back in the bag and said someting like he was just picking them up because they had fallen on the floor. I shouted angrily “Dejalos, dejalos!”. The woman abruptly dropped my suitcase and the children and she disappeared into the ether.
Shaken, I checked that they had not taken anything. All good; my valuables had been hidden in an inside zipped pocket and the thief had not got that far!. I had been carrying my bag over my shoulder and acroos my chest which meant it was more difficult for them to get into, but their ruse of unbalancing me and getting me to lift my arms so that the bag was exposed may well have worked if there had not been so many hidden interior compartments to my bag!
It was a worrying and timely reminder that “No somos todos iguales” as one lady had warned us on the metro and how easily these people target their victims. I was on my own, quite heavily laden, clearly tired and in an unfamiliar place. They work together, build a modicum of trust by “helping” me initially, so that the second time I was off my guard. They clearly have a knack of being able to jam the escalators; at first I thought that they were just kids larking around and since escalators are notorious for breaking down, I thought nothing of it.
Anyway, I soon arrived at the Mercure to find my two beautiful sisters waiting for me. It was so lovely to see them. We hugged each other tightly and got down to catching up!