Springtime in Alcalá Posted on March 14th, 2012 by

It’s springtime (Spanish: primavera) in Alcalá de Henares and the weather has finally warmed up (in case you didn’t know, Europe basically froze over in February). That means that people are spending a lot more time outside and the town has become a lot more beautiful because there are flowers everywhere. On Calle Mayor these trees have been blooming for the last week or so (I don’t know what kind of trees they are so if anyone reading this can identify them…) and have given the street a wonderful smell.

Of course, this time of year also brings about another kind of flower – those that are placed on memorials.

On March 11, 2004 (referred to here as 11-M) Spain suffered one of the most tragic events in its history – a terrorist attack on Madrid’s commuter train system, Cercanías. All of the trains that were attacked departed from Alcalá de Henares. In fact, I ride these trains frequently and have passed through the affected stations with no clue of the events that had taken place. I vaguely remember hearing about the attacks on the news but had basically forgotten about it.

Here, however, the memories of pain, horror, and uncertainty are still close in the national psyche. For the people in and around Madrid, including Alcalá de Henares, perhaps even more so. 11-M is Spain’s 9-11 and it really got me thinking about my experiences in America.

I am extremely lucky to live where I do (the suburbs of Chicago). Living there, it was a completely different (and as I imagine, a less horrific) experience than if I had lived in New York City, DC, or Pennsylvania. I cannot imagine how it must have felt for the complutenses (those are the people in Alcalá) and madrileños (people from Madrid).

The people hear vividly remember the experiences of 11-M. Is it like this in the US? Every year we ‘remember’ 9-11, but how much do we actually remember? How vividly are the feelings of pain, horror, and uncertainty in the American conscious?

It took me almost three months to realize the statues outside the train station in Alcalá are a memorial for all of those affected by the 11-M attacks. My heart goes out to all of them.




One Comment

  1. Hayden D. Duncan says:

    Saludos, Andrei. Me alegro de saber que tu experiencia hasta ahora ha sido positiva–no tengo por qué creer que sería al contrario, En cuanto a los árboles, iba a sugerir que son manzanos silvestres (crab apples) por las flores, pero has dicho que se puede oler las flores y que yo sepa, la flor del manzano silvestre no despide olor. ¿Por qué no les preguntas a tu familia cómo se llaman esos árboles? Una pregunta más, ¿ya has visitado la casa de Cervantes? Espero que sí.