Madrid Rain, Wet Laundry, & Umbrellas


About 7 weeks have passed here in Madrid with nothing but clear, sunny skies. This is great when out and about. I particularly love cool temperatures and those blue blue skies.

The oddity is that it USUALLY rains during this time of year. In fact, “the experts” are worried again about the possibility of a long-term drought as we had here JUST last year! The reservoirs were at 20-something-percent then and, well, if we don’t start getting some serious rain we’ll be returning to that. Reservoirs here now are at about 63%.

Okay. So the rain is great – and much needed. BUT NOT WHEN I’M DOING MY LAUNDRY!!

Sunday night I did two loads of laundry and got up early Monday to hang out the clothes. Cloudy. Grrrr!!! I take the clothes upstairs to the roof to hang and, of course, there’s the neighbor’s clothes hanging there, dry for (no doubt) 3 or 4 days. So the 3 “good” wires are taken. Fine. It’s cloudy anyway.

20 minutes later I’m just finishing hanging the last clothes. And then it hits me – LITERALLY! SLEET (frozen rain) begins falling from the sky. First lightly – AND THEN SERIOUSLY. Wonderful. I debate for a moment if I should take all the laundry down, including two sets of sheets, before leaving for the gym. Hmmm… “Nah.. It’ll probably blow over soon.

So I pack my mini-umbrella into my gym bag – just in case – and I’m off to the gym. The sleet continues to fall but lightly. Good. It seems I made the right decision. (uh-huh. Just wait)

So there I am at the gym having a good workout. I’m about halfway through and notice people standing at the windows which stretch the entire length of the second floor gym. “What’s going on?” I wonder – but I don’t wonder long because I look out the windows on my other side of the gym to see the rain falling in sheets, just falling and falling and falling. Everyone’s happy, amazed, and no-doubt some of them are WISHING they’d brought their umbrellas. “I brought mine,” I remembered.

By the time I was finishing up my workout, 20 minutes on the treadmill next to the windows, I watch one person after next running from the gym for their cars with their jackets over their heads, gym bags over their heads, or just running. I see all this and remember the damp laundry I just hung on the wires 3 hours before which is no doubt, by now, MUCH MORE than damp. Hmph!

The workout’s over, I’m dressed, and leave the gym pulling out my mini-umbrella to shield me from the (now) light rain.

I like this umbrella because it’s one of those mini-umbrellas, black, light, takes up no space, and it does its job. The thing I DON’T like about it is that on every alternating “web” it sports the word “BENIDORM“.

The BENIDORM umbrella was bought in, you guessed it, BENIDORM when visiting there last March. I was only there a very short time but there was rain in the forecast so I stepped into one of “Los Chinos” stores near the hotel and bought one just-in-case. They had a number to choose from but I thought since I was there I’d buy the Benidorm-named one as a kind of souvenir. Fine.

But now, everytime I pull out this umbrella here in Madrid I feel kind of strange, almost embarrassed. Me, obviously a NON-Spaniard and with the face I have, I’m CERTAIN all the Spaniards look at me carrying this umbrella as, SURELY, a rich Englishman who’s certainly vacationing every year in Benidorm or, who knows, OWNS a second house there along the beach. But if all that was true, WHY would I be living here IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD?

Of course my worries are unfounded as I haven’t polled anyone on the street. But IF I had stopped 10 Spaniards on the street while I’m carrying my Benidorm and ask them, “What do you think when you see me carrying this umbrella in Madrid?” the answer would’ve been, “Well, I imagine you’re English and got your umbrella in Benidorm.” A LOGICAL answer, of course, but would they have thought anything had I not asked them in the first place?? Probably not. My manias.

These are the kinds of things foreigners-in-a-foreign-land think when walking the streets. They think people are staring at them, talking about them, or even avoiding them. I think this is probably not the case most of the time but we, the foreigners, THINK this is the case because we feel like sharks swimming in a fishbowl full of goldfish – so obviously out of place.

The rain stops on my walk home so I happily put away my umbrella. When I get there I go up to the rooftop and take down the lighter clothes like the underwear, socks, and wash and dust rags. They’re all more damp now than before. I leave the sheets, pants, and T-shirts. All the smaller items I have strewn about the house and now, 24 hours later, they’re dry.

But I write you on Tuesday morning and it’s been raining all night long. I should go upstairs to check that the now-water-heavy sheets aren’t dragging on the rooftop floor. I should also bring down the T-Shirts and hang them around but the water will likely drip everywhere. What a pain in the A$$. I try to remember it’s not USUALLY like this – but I’m STILL HAPPY it’s raining.

ALSO READ the “2007 Madrid Drought Recovery” entry from August 2007 – and see how things have changed since then.

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