It's just me and the little old ladies in here.
Botanical gardens are a place to hide out. No one expects you to talk much in a botanical garden, and few other people are even around. Here in Jardin Real, the birds are frustratingly familiar. There seem to be Spanish magpies and chickadees and some sort of orange-beaked blackbird that waddles with a busybody air about it—if it had hands, they'd be on its hips. Pigeons look the same the world over.
I expected it to be disappointing, the garden in winter. It's true, the rows of empty rose and rhododendron stems were a bit disheartening, but suddenly the trees with their strange branch shapes and leaves, standing out in relief, are so much more interesting. It's true, I am crashing. After I meet with Dr. Vargas, I am going to go back to the tiniest hotel room ever and sleep the night away.
Occasionally a young couple will walk by, on date 5 or 6 (by date 4 they've done something too casual, like watch 30Rock reruns all day in their matching footie pajamas, and need to add some culture back into their budding relationship). They sit on the benches draped in each other's arms, like Cupid and Psyche. The old ladies look on disapprovingly, but I try to give a look that says “BE IN LOVE.”
There's a cat in here, black and white like a sulky Holstein. It's the first cat I've seen in Madrid. I don't think I've ever seen a cat in New York. I'm that kind of tired where you have to keep rubbing your eyes. Where the yawns split your whole head open to suck in the air. Like I could fall asleep for a moment even just walking.
The staff in Spain is wonderful, the pedestrians? Not so much. Everyone I ask for help is patient and good humored. And most people speak some English. This is good and bad, because I don't get to practice too much. As soon as I make a mistake, they want to be more efficient and speak English. But pedestrians shove past with haughty airs.
I had a great meandering conversation with the botanist today. He understood what I was looking for, and gave me a lot of stories, about frogs, bustards, olive and dragon trees. Not too many on the Canary Islands, instead Mallorca, Balearic, and Iberia. I had aged salmon on black bread for dinner. Now to sleep til real morning.