Dear Mr Mayor of Madrid

Retiro, Weird : Quirky : Fun

by A Concerned Citizen of Madrid

Dear Mr Gallardon,

First of all I’m writing to say that I hope that grumpy old git Rajoy doesn’t kick you out of your job later this year (in fact I particularly hope that HE gets kicked out of a job instead – he really is the most odious, obnoxious politician I have ever come across in my life).

Secondly I would like to thank you for the great job you are doing of putting big stinking roads into big stinking underground tunnels. I think this will be your legacy: the mayor that put big roads in tunnels. More of the same please. Do us all a favour and bury the Castellana, ASAP.

Now to the main point of my letter. I’m lucky enough to be able to take a stroll quite often around the Retiro Park. What a delight! You really have done a fine job of keeping it spick-and-span, although there are times when I’d like to take those infernal noise-making leaf-blowing machines and chuck them in the lake.

Ah, yes, the lake. Now the bongo playing round the back of the lake in that big semi-circular plaza with the columns used to drive me slightly mad, until at last I was able to appreciate the talent at work in those endless repetitive beats. What I can’t get used to though, is that every time I walk around that side of the park I am offered drugs by young gentlemen who whistle, hiss and beckon at me persistently, from 100 yards away, and don’t seem to get it into their heads that if I completely ignore them right up until I pass under their noses, it means I don’t want what they are selling. I ignore them, and they keep hissing, beckoning, whistling and cajoling, and it is really starting to piss me off.

I appreciate that it is important to group certain aspects of the cities talent in niche locations (keeping so many prostitutes on hand on the Calle Montero, just off Sol in the heart of commercial and touristy Madrid, is a masterstroke), but I just can’t see the connection between selling drugs, and people relaxing in the sun and playing ethnic musical instruments by a beautiful lake in a big beautiful park.

Well, if you are happy to let these guys stay there, I’d just like to suggest that you set up boothes for them, like the guys who sells peanuts to feed the fish, so at least they’ll know that we know where to find them, and they won’t have to keep annoying innocent strollers like myself.

Keep up the good work, and don’t give in to the lunatic with the beard,

Yours obligingly,

A Concerned Citizen of Madrid

P.S. A taxi driver recently told me he thought all the city’s transport problems could be solved by putting a vast undergound bus station under the Retiro Park. Seems to me he could be onto something. What do you think?

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Comment from Richardksa
Date: February 3, 2008, 12:27 pm

However, if any passing native wishes to practise his or her English, the drug sellers of Retiro do speak excellent, in Nigerian accented, English. They even call me “sir”. (BTW I am NOT a customer!!)

Comment from Graeme
Date: February 3, 2008, 3:41 pm

The problem is not the absence of bus stations – even if public transport were free there are still many people who would insist on bringing their cars into the centre of the city. In the end the solution comes more from what they have done around Huertas, close the area to non-residential traffic.