Thursday, August 19, 2010

unnnnnngh + the list


I want to visit Mejorada del Campo, a town about 8 miles outside of Madrid, to see this. It sounds fascinating -- as well as potential source for a couple articles. I've got to get down to business on this freelance stuff.

My problem? I can't figure out what kind of town it is. This may sound odd, but basically from previous internet research I have garnered that "fringe" Madrid neighborhoods (those outside the M30 roadway loop) tend to be tougher and less fun for a tourist to find herself in. This is clearly outside of central Madrid, but it might be far enough out that the above recommendation doesn't quite apply. The Google satellite picture shows lots of pictures of houses with swimming pools. That implies. . . a wealthy suburban development? Maybe? In any case I would be visiting in the middle of the day on Saturday or Sunday, so there should be people around. On the other hand, because it's super small, I would stick out painfully as a tourist (read: target.)

Of course, with my current monetary situation, the cost of this proposed trip -- 4 euros 10 cents -- is about what I can afford.

List composed while I was walking around Granada.

Sharon's scaled assessment of likely danger from her fellow pedestrians. (starting with the least dangerous)

1. Persons pushing strollers (WITH baby inside) or carrying babies. Sure they could pickpocket me. But aren't they a little busy? And isn't it a little hard to run away quickly whilst carrying a kid?

2. Asian women. You know, this one's probably going to come back to bite me in the butt, but I have yet to meet a Korean or Chinese tourist lady who inspired me with fear.
(Background, so you don't fear my racism: An Asian lady carrying a guidebook is probably a tourist. She is probably well-to-do -- there isn't a huge Asian population is Spain, so she's likely to have flown from China, Korea, or the U.S. --- owns her own nice camera, and has no reason to take mine. Also, there's a good chance she weighs 30 pounds less than me.)

3. Children under the age of four. You have to be able to reach my pocket to pick it.

4. The elderly, >70 years. Again, probably hard to run away. Also, unlikely to have the strength of arm to assault me.

5. Persons wearing business suits. Again, you might try to pickpocket me or scam me. But I can see you coming, and probably I can run faster in my shorts than you can in your suit.

6. Persons talking on their cell phones or listening to iPods, while wandering around with large open purses. Maybe there is a scam where you act like you are an excellent mugging target and then take others by surprise? However, I doubt it.

7. Persons wearing flip flops. I can hear you coming. And going.

8. Persons reading guide books and carrying maps, so long as they don't approach me. Bonus safety points if it's a family including children of various sizes. More bonus safety points if they're stopping every ten feet to take photos with expensive cameras.

9. Persons walking in front of me. Persons walking behind me are statistically 400% more evil than those walking in front of me.

10. Middle-aged women. Possible pickpockets, but unlikely knife-wielders or strong-armers. Decrease in assessed danger as resemblance to aunt Barb increases. Offering to read my palm bumps one up to potential human trafficker or murderer's accomplice, etc.

11. Confused Scandinavian young people. Relatively easy to avoid because they're blonde.

12. Spanish women between the ages of 15-30. Relative danger assessed by how amused I think they would be to watch their boyfriend beat up a tourist.

13. Men without facial hair. Most dictators and other bad guys have it.

14. Spanish men between the ages of 15-40, wearing sneakers, skinny to average body build, goatee or mustache, wearing sunglasses or not (though sunglasses will freak me out more), shorts and a t-shirt or other nondescript clothing. Danger assessment -- probably serial killers. Who eat babies every second Tuesday. Avoid at all costs.

* All ethnicities are assumed based on what I hear spoken and coloring.

No, there was nothing overtly frightening about Granada. I just had weird vibes.

Small rant. Please do not read this list and then "congratulate" me for being "safe." It was mainly composed in jest as I tried to figure out why some fellow pedestrians set off the "oh shit run" alarm and some did not.

I don't know if this constant checking of my surroundings and nervous assessment of people around me made me more safe in Granada, but it sure as hell made the trip a lot less fun. It also made me aware of all the moments when I slipped up, and when that slip up could have been used against me by someone smart. Any kind of congratulatory reaction to this mainly makes me think that you are ignorant of traveling alone and feeling afraid. It also makes me worry that should I get hurt, attacked, or stolen from again, you will assume it is my fault for not being careful enough. End rant.

I really hope that all my shorts don't get holes in them while I'm here. argh.

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