Real Jardin Botanico
The next day I awoke early and had breakfast in the hotel café. Now fortified, I was ready to embark on my last full day in Spain. I kept my heart-sick sadness at bay as I skipped through what were now familiar cobblestone streets, back to Plaza del Sol where the Metro station was. I quickly figured out which train I needed, bought my ticket, hopped on the train (look at me, I'm and "old pro" at this now), and headed in the direction of Real Jardin Botanico (the Royal Botanical Garden).
I spent a few glorious hours in the lovely botanical gardens, before the heat drove me to find some respite in La Plaza de Juan Goytisolo. In this plaza is el Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía which houses a world class European art collection. The featured artist happened to be Salvador Dali. ¡Perfecto!
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía
After lingering in the museum for a while, I went back outside to the plaza and was drawn to an artist who had his beautiful hand-made jewelry on display before him. I began chatting with Gustavo - the artist - who quickly unfolded a piece of deerskin and declared "ahora, tú eres mi amiga; por favor, siéntate conmigo" "now you are my friend; please sit with me." And so I did!
I sat talking with Gustavo for a couple of hours, entranced as I watched him create gorgeous pendants, earrings, and bracelets. Lots of people stopped to view and to buy his creations. After some time, I chose a special stone from his collection and asked him to make it into a necklace for my Mom. I watched as he wrapped the stone in silver right before my eyes. I was thrilled, as I thought of how much Mom would love it. All the while, as I was chatting with Gustavo, my eyes were continually drawn back to one particular stone - a greenish-blueish stone with many other colors poking through as the sunlight hit it. Somehow, he must have known, because all of a sudden, he picked up the stone, and made quick but professional work of wrapping it in silver to create a most intricate and beautiful pendant. Then he winked at me, pushed it in my direction, and said "Para ti, mi amiga, para ti." I was shocked, and honored, and could barely find the words to say thank you. "Muchisimas gracias, mi amigo!" I couldn't have scripted a more perfect moment.
The late afternoon sunshine, combined with the tapas bars surrounding the plaza, suggested a cerveza would be a good idea. So I quickly chose an outside table at Cafe de la Reina, one of many which surrounded the plaza, and settled in. I chatted with some folks at a nearby table, and otherwise, just enjoyed the cold beer in the warm sunshine. Soon after that, it was time to eat (of course!) and the folks at the table next to me invited me to join them (because in Spain, that's what people do!), and we shared tapas and laughter together for a while.