One World: Lavapies, Madrid

Embajadores, isa metro stop located in the neighborhood of Lavapies, a zone notorious for being one of, if not the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in Madrid and large immigrant population. Walk down one street and you see more Arab restaurants than you can count with your two hands, ranging from Turkish and Lebanese to Moroccan. On another street, an Indian restaurant is situated next to a coffee shop and right beside it to it is a Spanish bar. A couple of blocks down is a Ecuadorian restaurant and a Senegalese restaurant co-owned by a Senegalese family and a Spanish family, with its terrace full of Spanish and African customers alike, enjoying the flavors of  West African cuisine. Walk down another street and you count no less than four tiendas de pelo and five peluquerias. The tiendas de pelo are owned by Arab and Indian immigrants who sell their products to the various African immigrant women who then sell the hair for double the price in their shops. The women wait at the doors for any women with textured hair to pass by, luring them into their shop to hand out a card and a sharp cry of “come back next week”.

Walk down another street and you can see an Art Shop filled with stones and jewels, selling price starting at 30 centavos. These same stones line the strings of the necklaces sold by Senegalese men on the streets of Gran Vía and the metro stations through out the city of Madrid. Ask where the stones come from and the response is from different countries in Latin America, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and a few Asian countries as well. What about African countries? The response is “Not that I can think of”. But looking at the craftwork of the men and you would think that they were brought with them straight from the red clay streets of Senegal or Nigeria. What does that tell you? We aren’t that much different than we think we are. We are all human, although from different parts of the world, we are all the same? The same products that come from my country could just as easily come from yours. We immigrants come from all over the world to different countries to seek better opportunities, no matter the circumstances or methods of arrival, we all want the same thing. Why do we treat each other so differently? Why is there this hierarchy? The need to differentiate and identify who is better than whom? Can’t we just all be equally as good? We are brothers and sisters in the world, luchando, fighting the big fight. We’d all be better off trying to build one another up, instead of tearing each other down.

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