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You know the saying that if you get thrown off a horse you should get up again right away. With my near miss of a plane crash coming back from Italy, I could not have gone on another trip with more flights than my trip to Spain. To reach Madrid I took probably the most indirect route ever. Cairo/Milan, Milan/Barcelona, Barcelona/Madrid! So this was getting back on the horse with a vengeance.
My first impression of Madrid is of a bustling city, very colorful, vibrant, but not as crowded as Cairo. I was with a friend and neighbor, and we had taken a packaged tour, so were restricted by a regimented schedule. We had to wake up at certain times to catch a bus that would take us on a prescribed tour for a number of specified hours. To say that the adventure was taken out of the trip is to put it mildly. But I must say I saw much more than I would have had I been on my own. And I cannot, for the life of me, remember any of it. The only thing I do remember of Madrid is that I wanted to buy some flee repellant powder for my elderly Yorkshire terrier. On a specific, prescribed date we were told it was shopping day. So like a good little group, we were let loose on the main shopping centre. I went looking for a pet shop, but was told would only find these products in the pet department of a large Department Store. I finally tracked the pet section down, tucked in the farthest corner of the third floor. The young salesgirl did not speak anything but Spanish, and my Spanish consisted of ‘Si’ , ‘Buenos Dias’ and ‘Habla Espagnol’, which I remember because Habla in Arabic means ‘silly’! Anyway, trying to explain to the salesgirl that I needed flee powder, and not tick powder, for a small, but mature dog, was quite a feat. The only mode of communication was sign language and sounds.
First I had to establish that I was looking for a product for a dog. That was easy, I just barked! She understood and was somewhat amused at my rendition of a bark. Never mind, she got the message. Conveying the fact that it was a small but mature dog was another matter. Small was easy, just pointing to the size, but mature took some imagination. It could only be conveyed in negative terms, by mimicking NOT a baby. It took her a few minutes to get the drift, but she finally caught on. A lovely brightening of the face when comprehension set in. The first hurdle was overcome.
Next I had to explain powder, which took some negatives again, pantomiming that it was not a liquid, not a paste, then trying to imitate powdering my face. She got it. Now she knows I want some sort of powder for a small but mature dog. When it came to repellant, I was stymied, how can you mime, act, sound this? So I skipped it, knowing that if I managed to get through to her about the fleas, not tickets, half the battle would be won. So here again, I started by pointing out that they were small and jumped around. She did not understand the hand gesture about jumping around, so, to my embarrassment I had to hop around a bit before she got the message. I think she was pulling my leg a bit because she had that gleam in her eye. Anyway, she nodded and just for good measure I emphasized that the powder should not be for ticks. Conveying ticks was the most satisfying. I clutched her arm and made the most disgusting noises of sucking blood, with the most ferocious expression I could put on. She was a bit taken aback, and I had the slight satisfaction of a petty revenge, then she nodded vigorously and burst into laughter. This was echoed by three other sales people who seemed to have gathered around for the show. By the time she brought me the right kind of flee deterring powder for a small but mature dog, I was exhausted and ready to go back to the hotel. That is the sum of my recollection of Madrid.
To be continued …