Work finally remembered that they employed a nomad and sent me on a two-week on-site business trip to Madrid. Sounded great, apart from them meaning business about the ‘business’ in business trip. It was two weeks of non-stop work in a new exciting city, tantalizingly outside my grasp. But never mind, I had plenty of time after the two weeks were over to explore the city and its gorgeous weather.
Except, as soon as the on-site was over, the clouds rolled in and the freak spring sunshine gave way for sheet rain. “Never mind,” I thought, “I’ll just wait it out.” So I got busy with my neglected to-do list and looked forward to the sun returning.
The sun returned ten days later, just in time for the mother of all man-colds to strike me down like a kick to the balls. I evolved new orifices through which to ooze mucus. I had coughing fits so bad I literally doubled over and sat panting on the floor. (And I use the word ‘literally’ literally.) My body couldn’t decide if it was freezing or overheating, but what it was damn sure of was that no physical sensation whatsoever felt good. All the while, the sun shone like it just couldn’t stop loving the world.
A week after this, my friend John Mena intervened and took me to a doctor. At this point, the cold had moved into my ears and begun its coup de grâce, a plan to explode my eardrum from within and see my brain flushed out in a river of mucus. It is quite a sublime terror when any slight pressure increase in your head causes the most shearing intense pain and you develop a hiccup…
The doctor prescribed some serious antibiotics which made short work of my ear infection and, being the fervent little fungus that it was, continued to knock out my gut as well for good measure. I spent my second week of the man-cold from hell blowing my nose and doubling over in lung-ejecting coughing fits while trying to remain sitting on the toilet seat despite the jet-propulsion of my acute diarrhoea. Not my most graceful of moments.
When this tempest finally blew over, I got a beautiful week of sunshine and health. I had learnt my lesson to not take either for granted, so I made the most of it. I sightsaw (it should be a word), explored the nightlife and hung out with the friends I’ve made in Madrid.
And then I got acute food poisoning. Two days back on the toilet (I really should pay my landlord some kind of compensation…). Not only that, but I could not eat anything, despite the hunger clawing at my stomach like some claustrophobic gremlin. It’s amazing how quickly you can become weak and delirious when your body is simultaneous ejecting every scrap of nutrients in your body and banning any intake of new ones. I was left in bed wondering when the world had turned so sinister and if I was really me anymore or merely the echoes of a soul that had finally seen sense and left this no-good body to go enjoy the Madrid sunshine just outside my window.
I have one more week left in Madrid. The forecast says rain. It can rain hellfire for all I care as long as I remain healthy.
Despite the above, I managed to make three friends while in Madrid. The first is John Paul Mena, and he is a recycled friend. Very green of me, I know. I met JPM in London 11 years ago and soon thereafter visited him for a weekend here in Madrid. We then lost contact apart from a stray message here and there, but enough so that I knew how to get in touch when I returned, more than a decade later. He speaks very little English, but we managed to hang out anyway, and as mentioned earlier, he brought me to the doctor during the tempest.
Ricardo and I met up one night when both of us were at a loose end, wanting to go out but having no one to go with. So, he invited me for some pre-club drinks at his place. We hung out several times the next few days, and I could tell he would be a great friend if it wasn’t for the annoying fact that he was leaving Madrid. So he was gone for most of the time I was here.
And then there was Eduardo. Sometimes, you need time to ease into a friendship. Not so with Eduardo. It was like meeting a long-lost brother. We bonded right away. Plenty of shared interests. I met him early in my stay in Madrid, but thanks to a WhatsApp malfunction and the god damn tempest, we didn’t get to spend as much time together as I would have wanted. But, there is still one more week…
(Oh, and Eduardo, I’ll be sure to enjoy cruise for both of us. See you in Barcelona!)