Home, Sweet Home: Lavapies

Lavapies is one badass place I´ll say that! It´s my third post about the neighborhood, if you can´t tell, I love it.

So the other day I went to hechar un vistazo. (That´s take a look in Spanish)

I got off at metro Embajadores and walked looking around for a cafe I´d found online to do some writing.

As soon as you exit the metro, there are beautiful murals surruonding La Tabacalera, a place where I am told that I absolutely must visit before I leave Madrid.

After wandering up and down the street looking at the murals I decided to do a little exploring to get some inspiration.

I passed multiple hair salons, walking in and asking for appointments which I had no intention of keeping. (shame on me, boohoo). Then after wandering up the street a little bit more, I happened upon this arts and crafts store! I walked in and was blown away by rows of buckets that were filled with colorful beads, seeds and various amulets of all different types. It was absolutely gorgoues.

I left the store and finally went to the coffee shop, Swinton and Grant, after getting a little inspiration. Not sure of what to order, the woman at the cash register was kind enough to suggest a couple of things that weren´t coffee but were cold and caffeine filled. I settled on a Matte-Cola and was pleasantly surprised and satisfied. For those of you who don´t know what matte is, it is a caffeinated herb similar to green tea but a LOT stronger, typically the drink of many Argentinians. Make it a soda pop and it is hell of good (:

I´d heard of this restaurant by the name of Baobab, a popular Senegalese restaurant in Lavpies frequented by locals and expats alike. My phone was almost dead at this point and I had no idea where to find it but the owner of the coffee shop was kind enough to search the restuarant for me on her phone.

I headed in the direction of the restaurant and low and behold it was closed. HOWEVER, there happened to be another Senegalese restaurant quite a short distance from Baobaba. Talk bout neighborly competition. I went to that one instead and sat down, ordered a Baobab drink, which is made from the fruit of the Baobab tree and happens to have all types of delicious nutrients (along what must have been a gallon of sugar). I ended up talking to the waitress for a little bit, who happened to be from Kenya (imagine that). We talked a little bit about her persepctive on African women in Spain, she told me that the biggest issue is that women seem to have forgotten where they came from and the cultural values they were raised with, but it´s not entirely their fault as they do what they feel they must to fit into society.

I enjoyed our talk immensely and walked out with the intention of returning another day. I was wandering off to the metro when I was distracted (what´s new) by a restaurant with windows decorated by music notes. It read in big white letters “The Love Supreme“. I noticed that it had some really cool looking black and white blow up photos and it was pretty empty, so I decided I could walk in without being looked at funny.

I walked in and asked if they were a jazz bar, and a short man with glasses replied to me, and said that they were a restaurant and held performances at night. Clearly amused at my interest and awe, he told me to go up and take a look, so I did just that. After 5 minutes of perusing, I was in love, the walls were decorated with jazz musicians from the 20th century, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, The Rat Pack, John Coltrane, and in the back there was a beautiful grand piano, accompanied by a bass and a saxophone. I didn´t want to leave, ever. The man I´d first spoken to asked me how I liked it and struck up a conversation with me where he showcased his immense knowledge and love for jazz and hip hop alike. I learned his name was Sidney and he was from Guinea-Bissau but was born in Portugal and raised in Spain. He told me he´d traveled all over Europe but had never been to the United States although he would love to visit California. I ended up meeting a good portion of his staff as he was the owner of the restaurant, all who were good-natured people. I stayed for two hours soaking in the ambiance, got fed for free and was offered an invitation to come back for a drink and to perform some night.

It was honestly one of the best days I´ve had in Madrid. Safe to say, I found a second home in Lavapies.

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