5 Ways I Coped With A Smoky Madrid.
Anytime I arrive somewhere new, I heighten all of my senses to get an authentic, personal first impression. The first sights, smells, and sounds you experience of a place are thrilling reminders that you are somewhere new. This place is different. Sensory perception reminds you that this place is uniquely itself. Upon arriving in Madrid, Spain, I quickly realized that Madrid was smoking.
Not smoking like, "AHHHH! The whole city is on fire" or "Daaaaammmn, these people are smoking hot!" No, my first impression of Madrid is that it is "smoky." Not hickory smoke or BBQ smoke, but cigarette and tobacco smoke. Madrid was smoky because it was smoking. Hmmm. "Madrid Is Smoking" would be a great marketing campaign. You're welcome, Madrid. Email me for payment details.
I saw people smoking; I smelled smoke; I heard smoker's cough; My feet further crushed discarded cigarette butts; The smoke infiltrated my ear, nose, throat system and I tasted it. My five senses were assaulted upon first arrival.
It was smothering. No, I wasn't literally smothered, but it was difficult to breathe. Smoking indoors is banned in most of the United States and none of my friends/family smoke cigarettes around me, so I pretty much have virgin nostrils and lungs. To help with the nostril and lung shock, I implemented 5 coping methods throughout my journey.
- I held my breath until I passed the person/group smoking.
- I would take an alternate route or cross the street if the street was littered with smokers.
- I increased my walking speed to pass a smoking group/person.
- I isolated myself and would often stand to the side in case a group/person began smoking.
- If none of the above worked, I fanned the smoke out of my face. I didn't care who saw me do it.
My actions may seem exaggerated or dramatic, but second hand smoke kills. No need to recklessly subject myself to it especially since there is SO MUCH MORE world for me to see. Honestly, I tried not to openly show my displeasure. As a visitor to their homeland it is my duty to respect their customs and habits, even those with which I do not agree. *Obviously, there are limitations to this standard, but smoking cigarettes isn't one of them.*
Stay hot, Madrid. And by hot I mean "smoking."
P.S. The above were my observations, not complaints. Madrid was a good, albeit smoky, time.
Image: Flickr, Chris JL.