After having lived in Madrid for some time in the late 1980s and beginning 1990s, I felt a special bond with this lively city. When it was attacked on March 11, 2004, it had an impact on many people around the world, and it certainly had on me. At the earliest occasion, I went to visit the site of some of the attacks to feel the atmosphere. Atocha was a busy railway station as it always is, and from there I took one of the commuter trains to El Pozo station. A small station just 10 minutes of Atocha, this was hit badly. Construction workers were working hard to erase the damage done, but still parts of the wall and the ceiling were missing.
Once I got outside the station, I saw many spontaneous contributions to a memorial. Articles from newspapers about victims and their life stories, drawings, flowers and paper puppets for each victim fallen here. Around the corner, under the tracks, was the real memorial site. Here, I found candles, poems, questions, furious remarks, silent witnesses of victims on the wall and on the floor. Some papers had just been stuck to the wall with cellotape, the ink already fading due to the falling rain. Reading them, gave a chilling feeling. Indeed, this could have happened to any one of us.
Most impressive perhaps were the drawings made by schoolchildren, unable to understand (but then again, who is able to understand?), in memory of a lost school mate. I traveled back to Atocha, found the memorial site there, many more people. Everyone trying to light candles that had been extinguished by the rain and the wind, reading, crying, or just staring to a point far away in the grey skies over this vibrant city, thinking about the implications, about the relativity of life and death, about how we all live on the border between them.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from 11 March (Spain). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to 11 March. Read more about this site.