from the commuter

The photos which I took myself are random images of commuting and life. Enjoy the ride!

Monday, August 1, 2016

The capital city, the seat of everything

I write this post with the Spanish-language song "La Bicicleta" by Carlos Vives and Shakira continuously playing on my speakers, and it will be on loop until this blog post is 'published.'

I have made it to Madrid, Spain, as my new assignment after over two years in Nigeria, and what great luck I have to be in this beautiful country, particularly in this spectacular Spanish capital city.

I had known all along that I would end up in Madrid after my stint in Abuja, Nigeria. It was what I would call the deal I made for accepting, actually volunteering, for the West African Post. I had no regrets that I had taken that more difficult route to get to my dream European post now. In fact, I would call my Nigeria experience a blessing, even more that what I could ask for.

Nigeria was not easy, mind you, but it enabled me to be the person I desired to be.

I would always take pride in the fact that I spent more than two glorious years in Nigeria, despite the terror group Boko Haram problems in the north, the occasional bombings in the capital and Ebola virus disease that reached the southern city of Lagos. The  fuel problems, corruption, the hours-long power outages and the threat to Malaria were all there too, but I would credit my Philippine upbringing for helping me cope better than my European and American counterparts did. They complained a lot! Nigeria, like the Philippines, is a developing country, and is not without challenges. I guess, for some people who are accustomed to comfort and first-world living, they would always think that these will always be available to them. Well, not all the time.

Some party guests at my house
The difficult conditions brought out the best in people. There was always the threat of insecurity in Abuja, but this did not stop the party-loving expatriate community to have fun in their residences, gated villages and poolside venues. I was lucky to be in the company of some of the most amiable Latinos I have met in my life, and was taken in as an honorary cousin of sorts. I recall with fondness the countless parties and dinners I had with them. Soon enough, my circle of friends grew to include Americans, Nigerians, Israelis, Greeks and countless others. I once had a birthday party with over 40 people of different colors squeezed inside my small flat, dancing and drinking the night away. I passed out that night, failing to properly see my equally happy guests off.

Nigeria amplified my resilience, a trait known and visible to many Nigerians, along with their deep sense of faith. I rarely complain now. hehe. I have nothing but gratitude. Who would not be grateful for all those character-building experiences.

I would always look back at my Nigerian experience as I write my Spanish history. Eight months into my post, I have yet to make wonderful friends like I did in Nigeria. Abuja, for all its greatness and weaknesses, bonded me with a wonderful set of people I had the honor of knowing. I remember the names Pedro, Susan, Nadav, Cynthia, Miguel, Francia, Angie, Jorge and many others whose friendship and warmth I will always celebrate. I know it takes an effort on my part to establish friendships, as well. Friendship does not just happen instantaneously, for it needs nurturing and time. For now, I shall wait patiently. The first few months have been great for me in Madrid. There is without a doubt that my future here will be as bright.

In other capital cities of the world are my other friends who unceasingly provide me support and keep me sane. In more ways than one, we comforted each other because we knew the challenges of life away from home. For this, too, I am grateful.

Meanwhile, as an admirer of anything beautiful, I take the chance to explore Madrid and beyond.

Here are some photos of Toledo, some 25 minutes away from Madrid by the speed train,

The Alcazar


Inside the AVE train, Spain's high-speed train

The rail station. 

One public transportation off my list after taking quite a number of trains in Spain. 

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