It has been a few years since my last trip to Madrid. And when I say trip, I talk of an intentioned visit. During the summer on my way back from Lisbon I had a very brief stop over in the city. I think back to 2014, it was the middle of summer and even as the stars shone above, a desired coolness for the night that seemingly eluded us. Part of me longed to return to Madrid, but only to visit the market stalls that sold jewellery that sung to my heart. Silvers, warm embers, patterned glass, each one a definite talking point.
I think back to my first encounter with Madrid I am reminded this and other Spanish cities stand as a site of architectural excellence, or do they? As a student of architecture and design our first study trips were to Barcelona and Madrid. We stood in awe of La Sagrada Familia and respectively the modern architectural interventions seen at Matedoro. I’ve started to re-look at the familiar, as with Paris I am in the process of looking with greater detail. What will I notice when I listen with intent? What will I share when I speak?
As I attempted to leave Madrid for Valladolid the concept of language suddenly became suddenly weighty. As a general rule when travelling anywhere, it is my normal practice to learn the basics to get by. Each day we continue to add to our vocabulary to support a means of communication with those around us, but what happens when you suddenly find yourself in a position of human versus machine? I found myself in a position whereby the machine I was using to purchase a ticket seemed to be working against me. My bid for independence was slowly slipping through my fingers as the ticket machine which I had changed to English language seemed to betray me. In writing this I’m awakened to the parallels that this may draw with everyday experiences.
Inaccessible conversations happening in plain sight masked as being open to all.
This time, Madrid and my journey to Valladolid only contained the sounds of chitchat of locals and the regularity of the busses and cars moving through. In the absence of sounds that I gravitated towards or that felt reflective of Spanish identities, I put together a playlist consisting of songs by artists from Spanish speaking countries.