Thursday, June 26, 2008

Day 135. From Madrid to Paris

Today I went twice to the airport. The first time, at mid-morning, was to wait for Juan Armando, who was arriving from New York. It was going to be my one chance to talk a little bit with him, because in the early afternoon it would be my turn to take the flight to Paris-Orly.

Juan Armando is a really nice young man. He is an excellent student, and has a full scholarship to complete a Master in Fine Arts at Columbia University. I was very glad to see him, but it was nothing compared with the happiness of his grandparents, who think he is the best kid in the world. Here is a photo of the happy group.

After a delicious lunch it became time to say goodbye to Estrella, Armando, and Juan Armando, and it was full of good memories that I undertook my last walk through Madrid. Baroom . . . once again I was teleported to another world: Paris!

I started by being scandalized by the price of the metro to downtown: 10 euros, what in Madrid had cost me 1.70 euros! Then again, I soon realized that the price included a warm welcome by all the people in Paris, who packed themselves in the metro to give me the “bienvenue”. It was almost 8 pm by the time I arrived to the station in Villemomble, where Samir was waiting for me, and in another five minutes we were in his house. His wife and one-and-a-half year old son are in vacation in Algeria, so I won’t get to know them, but Samir had organized a welcoming barbecue with his brother in law and his wife (Billel and Mehdya), and with neighbor Michelle. Here is a photo, from left to right of Mehdya, Billel, Michelle, and Samir.

Samir was born in Algeria, from Berber parents (never to be confused with Arabs!), and works as a psychoanalyst. He moved to France when he was 22 years old (20 years ago), and alternatively dreams with going back to live in Algeria, or moving to Barcelona. His lovely wife and handsome kid are the most important people in his life. Michelle is French, and has a contagious laughter, but she tells me that she has gone through hard emotional times since her husband died two years ago. She has adopted Samir and his family as her own, and they in turn have adopted her, so in reality she is more like a dear aunt than a neighbor. Billel came to France from Algeria just a couple of years ago (he is the brother of Samir’s wife), so he is still struggling with the language. He works at the airport driving one of those cool trollies used for moving the luggage from the plane to the terminal. His wife Mehdya is a very beautiful and pleasant French-Algerian. She was born in France, works in a bank, and is gently working on improving Billel’s command of the language. So, now you know part of the Paris family :)

No comments: