The first signs of fall have arrived in Madrid: the outdoor pools are now all closed and the air is crisp and fresh. People are wearing pants and coats, and the city is back to the routine of work and school, a grand transformation after the summer vacation. I’ve been in Madrid for the past week or so, staying with Marga and recuperating after swimming the Strait of Gibraltar. The day after the Strait, when I was back in Madrid, I felt as though a truck had run me over, or something. I hadn’t slept the two nights prior to the swim, nerves and excitement kept me awake, which only added to the fatigue of swimming 20km in cold and choppy waters. I felt a tired from within my bones that manifested itself in corporal pain, which at times I imagined was just an aurora of energy that was trying to find a way out of my body. What really hurt were by neck, upper back and shoulders. These muscles were so tight that to the touch some of them seemed like bones. It must have been because of the ocean chop and how I had to lift my neck to breath by anchoring my arms in the ocean to raise my upper torso out of the water. This for 3.5 hours, but it felt magical the whole way. I remember riding the ocean chop at times, or loving the way that the lip of a small wave in the middle of the ocean would fold over and crash a cool turbulence of white over my back!
Now, a week after the Strait, a week in Madrid sleeping and recuperating, my body feels whole again, stronger than before and with a newfound confidence in what I am able to accomplish with my body. I’ve also spent this past week contacting the cultural affairs department of the U.S. and the Moroccan embassies here in Spain. I’m looking to get formal, if not financial support for a project I hope to organize for next June/July 2010. My goal is to collect a team of swimmers from Morocco, Spain, and the U.S. to complete a round trip traverse of the Strait of Gibraltar as a relay. I’m thinking two swimmers from each country, meaning that each swimmer would swim around 6km, or if I can raise enough money, then maybe there could be more than one team. These meetings have been very successful and so far I have felt nothing but support from both U.S. and Moroccan officials. The first thing that has to be done, however, is to find some Moroccan swimmers that are interested in the cause, and to do this, I’m off to Morocco in two days. I haven’t made any formal contacts as of yet , and am not sure what I will encounter, but I am excited to pack my bags and head out on a new adventure.
I will miss Spain and the people that I’ve become close to. Nacho and Marga. Angelon and all of those lifeguards from Toledo and Guadalajara. Luis Palen. Gonzalo, Xavier and David. Pilar. Siguenza as a whole. Madrid as well. The family of Marga. Amparo, the beautiful mother of Nacho. El Ruso, or Don Emilio. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. Nacho’s mother, Amparo, told me that I was very fortunate to be having such a wonderful experience here in Spain. Yes, I do feel very fortunate. But when she told me this I had an instinctual reaction to say that I would return all the good that has come my way when I am a doctor. In the meantime I hope that I can at least give back to the karma pot through cultural exchange and organizing this international relay of swimmers that will swim from Europe to Africa and back. Hasta luego España, y muchísimas gracias.