As a person who identifies as Latina, being in Madrid has come with a unique set of experiences. It’s been bitter/sweet. While speaking my native language most of the time has allowed me to learn and grow, speaking it all the time is exhausting when you have people looking over your shoulder. So here are some truths about being a Latinx person in Madrid, the good, the bad, the ugly.
Your Spanish won’t get magical overnight. If you’re someone who considers themselves a native speaker, but have lived in the U.S. most of your life then you probably have a bunch of insecurities about your Spanish. The truth is, both: you’re not as great as you think and you’re definitely not as horrible as you think. There is a learning curve, and yes, sometimes I forget how to say refrigerator. Sometimes your Spanish will move effortlessly and sometimes it’s gonna get stuck on your tongue. Be patient with yourself. (Yes, I also wish that it came out as easily as it does when I’m on the phone with my mom too). One of the biggest things I have struggled with is speaking formally, but honestly what does that even mean. It’s really just a bunch of superiority BS. Whatever way you speak, speak. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s wrong, or broken, and trust me they will try. Remember that your language is beautiful, remember that you have room for improvement (tildes are a pain in the neck, but worth learning), remember to be patient with yourself.
Some madrileños will insist that you’re saying it wrong, over and over and over again. Repeat after me: let. It. go. Tell them they’re wrong and then let it go.
Things that remind you how Spain colonized your country are everywhere. EVERYWHERE. Exhibit A: El Museo de América (I wrote about it here). This is painful, it’s not fun. It reminds you of pieces of your culture that you have lost and pieces that sometimes seem that never belonged to you in the first place. No los dejes joderte el día. But be aware of the place you’re at and the privilege that you may have. Never forget that you don’t owe anything to them. Take care of yourself.
There are Latin American immigrants here, there are Dominican, Venezuelan, Cuban, Peruvian restaurants here. Look for them. Here are my suggestions:
Calle de Blasco de Garay, 10, 28015 Madrid
Pupusería Madrid: Salvadorian
Paseo de Santa María de la Cabeza, 16, 28045 Madrid
Lima Limón: Peruvian
Calle de Pío Baroja, 7, 28009 Madrid
Calle Manuel Aleixandre, 2, 28045 Madrid
El Rincón Ecuatoriano
Calle del Barco, 8, 28004 Madrid
La Colonial de Huertas: Cuban
Calle de las Huertas, 66, 28014 Madrid