There is this little cafe/bar that I go to on Tuesdays and Thursdays in between school and private lessons to get lunch. The owner, a women in her late thirties perhaps, is usually there, as well as a younger guy, Fran(cisco), who works behind the bar and likes Western movies hence the fact that that is generally what’s on the bar’s TV. By the end of my first visit to the cafe the owner, Fran, and everyone else in the bar knew that I was from Kansas, that I taught English in a school nearby and that José’s (name changed to protect privacy/I don’t remember it…) niece was pregnant and was leaving the baby daddy.
For lunch I’ve gotten in the habit of ordering a bocadillo de tortilla francesa, which is pretty much just bread with scrambled eggs on it. But last week I decided to change this up a little and get a bocadillo de bacón (important note: bacón is not bacon. It is smoked pork.). Fran asked me if I wanted cheese with my bocadillo. Sure, why not. When my plate came out it had a sandwich, a piece of creamy deep fried cheese and one deep fried mini hotdog. Uh, yum?
Here’s some context: Móstoles is a suburb on the south side of Madrid. I give myself an hour to get from doorstep to doorstep and always have a few minutes to spare. I have made it in 45 minutes under desperate circumstances. According to Mapquest it is about 13.5 miles from my school in Móstoles to my apartment in Madrid.
For some perspective: It is 14.48 miles from my house to Union Station in Kansas City. It is 19.2 miles from Rockville, Maryland to the Mall in D.C. It’s 14.3 miles from Village Pointe, Omaha Nebraska to the Old Market, downtown. It is 35.5 miles from the Catedral of La Plata to the Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires. (I used all of the measurements for the shortest routes, not necessarily the fastest routes.)
When I tell Madrileños that I work in Móstoles I get some interesting reactions:
Random person: you teach English? Where?
Me: In Móstoles…?
RP: aiiii (shaking hand gesture that is common among Spanish people. Kind of looks like trying to dry your hands off in the bathroom when you have no towel. But only with one hand. It basically means, oh that’s rough)
Random person 2: you teach English? Where?
Me: In Móstoles…?
RP2: JODER, that’s like the Bronx of Madrid.
No joke. I’m pretty sure more than one person has referred to Móstoles as the Bronx.
But as usual, stereotypes go both ways. I was talking to a few people in that bar/cafe and they asked me where I was living. I told them, Madrid. And they responded, hm, the land of the rich.
And stereotypes only go so far in accurately describing a place. Yes, Móstoles is a working class neighborhood, but it is very safe, and there are people from all different kinds of backgrounds who live there. And, they have the best deep fried mini hot dogs.