Passages-5 The Parque de Retiro

David was right about the Puerta de Alcala. It was surrounded by colourful flowers, and Cam took plenty of pictures. Then they headed into the park, Geo dancing ahead urging them to go faster so they would get to the lake in time to go rowing. She was convinced that if they arrived “too late” by David’s standards, they wouldn’t get to go at all. David slowed her down only slightly when he explained that the rowboat concession wasn’t even open yet. He went on to warn her that he was going to row first, but they could change places later on, and both of them could have a turn if they wanted. Geo was too busy prodding them to hurry to even pout.

They arrived just after the rowboat concession opened, so they were one of the first in line. The man who took their money sent them down the dock, where another fellow helped hold the boat steady while they clambered in, David in back, Cam and Geo in front. David had only given them lessons for about 5 minutes before Geo requested a turn. The oars turned out to be heavier than she expected, though, and it wasn’t many minutes after that before she conceded the oars to Cam, reserving the right to try them again after she’d had a rest. David didn’t get another chance to row for the entire 45 minutes; Cam couldn’t tell whether he minded or was secretly relieved. He only required they switch places every 10 minutes or so, saying he didn’t want them to become too tired.

Cam was happy to snap photos during her rest periods. Her favourite was of a group of women in headscarves who didn’t seem to have any idea how to manoeuvre their boat, and who ended up going around in circles, screaming in laughter the entire time.

Both of them were happy with the results of their first rowing practice, although Cam privately thought Geo could work on her turning skills. They begged David to bring them rowing every day, but he just laughed at them.

From the lake they walked on to the Crystal Palace, which presided over another, smaller lake. You couldn’t row on this lake, but there were ducks, black swans, and dozens of turtles living in and around the water, in addition to a little grotto, all of which offered lots of subjects for picture taking. As far as Cam was concerned, David had more than delivered on his promise.

The sky was blue, the grass was green, and there were lots of people out enjoying the nice weather in the park. From the Crystal Palace the three self-proclaimed tourists moved on to the Rose Garden, which was pretty even though it wasn’t the best season for the roses to be in bloom.

It was almost time for lunch. Back at the entrance to the park, the trio found a place to have a sandwich, and less than an hour later, they were on a bus headed downtown, on a quest to find a Palazzo ice cream shop.


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