Incredible but this text full of typos belongs to me and is subject to copyright law. As an idea I say. Storytelling: Toni M.
Madrid is a city of colors and contrasts, but for some, it is and it will always be a city of shadows. I speak of those that can’t be seen on tourist paths, of those that work 10-12 hours a day for money that barely keep them coasting from today to the next day, when they start all over again, prey of hopelessness. From the tourist bus you lose all meaning of what Madrid means. Sitting comfortably in your chair, you have no way to notice the hunger, the filth, the despair, the hundreds of drug addicts and prostitutes, the thieves, the charlatans, the racism. What you see is just a shining mask over a hideous face. The streets are filled with legal or illegal immigrants, Ecuadorians, Romanians, Moroccan, Chinese, Dominicans, Bolivians, Africans, Polish. You find drugs in the parks. At street corners you can buy pirated movies, umbrellas, watches, belts, anything to bring an euro. In the center of the city, Montera is the prostitutes’ street. Lavapiés is the filth neighborhood, the neighborhood of drug dealers, pimps and crime, and in Carabanchel, another remote Madrid neighborhood, anything can happen at night. I will show you the true nature of this city, I will try to dismantle it mask, by mask, by mask… until the pale truth remains and you will understand the longing for a new beginning. How much are you willing to sacrifice for a dream?
THIS IS HOW EVERYTHING BEGINS
I was 20 when I first set foot on Spanish land, and now that I am writing these words on paper I am 24. Odd to think, I left Timisoara on 1st of April with a ghost-company that would get everyone in the bus across the border, showing for us those 500 euros that the law says that we must have to leave the country. It’s a day I don’t remember fondly, not even today, all I can say is that I can’t forget the eyes of my loved ones when I left out the door with my backpack hanging heavily on my back. I had no idea where I was headed. It was my dream, a challenge that cost me 6 months of work and saving up on a very small paycheck. I was not as interested in earning money, it was not my main purpose, I was only interested in getting there. I had a round-trip ticket available for 6 months, that proved to be a scam from the transport company. In other words, I believed I could spend to the last euro, I thought I had the safety of being able to return home, but looking back, I knew nothing.
The journey was tiring but extremely interesting for a kid that had never been out of the country before, as it looked like a new world was opening in front of my eyes. True, those who use to get out of the country know that an entirely different world exists beyond the borders of Romania. I passed four countries. In Hungary my attention was attracted by houses from small towns, they seemed so similar to our own that I felt like I hadn’t left Romania at all. Austria however, enraptured me with its cleanliness and orderliness that seemed to be everywhere. The hedgerows that marked each house’s backyards were trimmed, the lawn was trimmed too, even the objects in peoples’ yards were neatly kept. Italy with snow-covered mountain peaks and villages scattered in the mountains that looked abandoned made me forget my departure for a moment, my mix of feelings that darkened my thoughts, the trashy people around me, so I fell asleep huddled on the chair with the sun in my eyes. I woke up when the bus was passing along the Azure Coast and I could not peel my eyes from the window. I told myself that was Paradise. Hundreds of yachts, blue waves, sun, cafes, tourists, planes flying above, palm trees, and something I never saw before, giant stone boulders raising from the sea. It’s difficult to use words to describe that place, but I would later understand that just as tourists of Madrid, I was seeing only the stunning mask of those places and I was missing everything beneath it. Those cities however stayed on my mind, like glimpses of Paradise on Earth, with their narrow streets, terraces and chic cafes, old buildings, palm trees and that bohemian atmosphere. The rest of the road was boring to me however and I fell back asleep with the same nervousness that I had at each border crossing.
……..to be continued as movie
Toni died a few years back, after a car accident, while he tried to reach his grandmother, to let her personally know that he will get married. For years he wrote each day and left an immense social narrative, based on his own life and the reality he and those like him faced in the ´90 and at the beginning of 2000.
We shared a similar experience, unfortunately. I was also recruited by a phantom-company on 1st of April and send to Corsica, with one way bus ticket. I have returned with marks for life after working without protección in constructions, in canicular conditions, at first, even if I had signed a contract for working as a chef. When I finally returned back home I had 39 kg, because of the stress, workload and subnutrición.