Well Thanksgiving came early for me this year. It was easier for my family, with their schedule of five children in violin, swim team, and French classes plus my sister, the mommy, in chemotherapy, to celebrate this Tuesday, which is what we did. It was a really lovely time except for a set back on the way there that left me a little resentful to the way theings run in Spain. I’ve lived here in Spain since 2005, and had four trips here even before I moved, but every once in a while I’ll get mistreated for being American and that makes my blood boil.
Well the set back was that the Socibus that I took from Sevilla’s Plaza Armas Bus Station, arrived at the Madrid Station 45 minutes late, the problem? My train laft 45 minutes after arrival in Madrid, so my train was choo-choo-ing it’s way to Pamplona when I stepped off my stinken bus from Sevilla. I hoped that thing might be running slow like our American Amtrak does sometimes (haha) so with that hope, I paid a Taxi to rush me down the street from madrid’s Estacion Sur Bus Station to Atocha Train Station. Of Course by the time I got there the train was long gone, in fact the Atocha employee I asked sort of laughed at me, like “Of course it left on time, buddy.” He did send me downstairs to Atencion al Cliente “Passenger Services” where two ladies were talking and seemed bothered to have to help me, to have to pause their conversation and help someone, they dismissively sent me to another office where I had to change my ticket and pay another 12 Euros to get my ticket altered for the next train to Pamplona, which wouldn’t be for four and a half hours. So there I waited behind the red line that said in Spanish “form line here.” There was someone in front of me and on the sides of me, yet when it was my turn the man at the window didn’t listen to anything I said but said unkindly, “Get in line”, pointing, I thought he was talking to someone behind me and I turned around, then I said again I needed this ticket changed since I missed my train, he then motioned for a man in another line to come forward and told me to get at the back of the line. Now it may be that I was in the wrong line, but that same dumb guy could have spoken more professionally, and he did attend the man standing in front of me in the line I was in, so at the least he helped a spanish man and not me. Then I got in the other line and was already fuming from everything, and another spanish man comes up real fast and I thought he was squeezing through the line. No. he stayed in front of me, he cut right in front of me when there wasn’t even any room, I scooted back as he squeezed in, thinking he was just passing by, this all happening in front of the man who didn’t attend me and was now doing Nothing. Then the man who wouldn’t help me, called the man who cut in front of me to help him. I looked for a complaint box but I didn’t find one, but I have nothing good to say about Madrid’s Atocha Train station, for you travelers going through. I got to wait there 4 and a half hours, thinking about the 12 euros taxi ride and the 12 euros spent on changing my ticket, 24 euros was more than the whole 7 hour bus ride from Sevilla on 45-minute-late Socibus.
On the Bright Side:
Now I did meet a nice family from Ghana who told me about being racially targeted in their small town where they live and work in Catalunia, so they were really nice and had two very cute children, but the way they described the Catalan Police refusing to do anything about their townspeople making racial slurs and threats just made me more bothered with Spanish behavior. This family said they were never insulted like this in England or France or Morocco while looking for a new life, only in Catalunia. That is a shame. I told them to be strong and that God loves them very much. Their son Kiy was very funny and playful, and when his parents were boarding far away his mother called him, but he didn’t hear, so I said “Kiy, Your Momma is calling.” and he went running to her, across the station.
I also got to make friends with a 50-year-old woman on her way to see her daughter, who lives a few towns away from me, in the Province of Sevilla. We had some long conversations during the 7 hour bus ride from Madrid to Sevilla. I also got to give her words of comfort from the Bible as she cried as I talked of how excited I am about my upcoming wedding, and she shared with me that I’m starting one new life and she’s ending her old life, in that her husband has left her and is sleeping with another woman after 26 years of marriage. I did my best to be sensitive to her pain and pretty much waited until she wanted to talk again. At other points of the ride she was very happy, and asking me quuestions about the difference between Evangelicals, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians. She didn’t know that Orthodox Christians in Egypt are being persecuted by Muslim authorities this week in Giza. I got to tell her how we Evangelicals believe that the Bible has more authority than the Church Traditions or the Pope. I told her how 1 Timothy Chapter 3 tells Chistians that Bishops and over-seers of the Church should be the husband of one wife and manage well their family. I shared how this is a idfference between the Protestants and Catholics, and she agreed that we have it better on that issue, she believes, being a practicing Catholic, that Catholic priests should marry if they are burning with passion as the Bible says. I told her I will be overjoyed when I get married in April to my lovey Sara. She was very happy that I had found true love, and exhorted me to treat her well and to never verbally abuse her, I promised that I won’t, that I will always love her. She told me “Yes, always tell your wife that you love her, my husband didn’t do that.” I felt bad for this mother of two, who has both children now moving out and starting adult life. I encouraged her to try new activities like work on the country house that she told me she has inherited from her grandparents. I told her God is a God of Comfort who hears us in distress, and that Jesus went to those sick and suffering when he was on the earth, Jesus was (and is) full of compassion for the poor, unwanted, and suffering. I told her that throughout the Bible, God shows compassion for the humble and down-trodden. “God opposes the Proud but gives Grace to the humble.”
I’ll write more later, about how Awesome my Thanksgiving was with my sister Lisa and her vivacious family! Here’s a video of our great Thanksgiving Dinner in their 16th Century Wine Cellar!