11.3.05

M-11 + 365


It's hard to believe that a year has now passed since the tragic events in Madrid. I can't admit to being a regular visitor to that particular city, but I have been a few times, and can honestly say that it is one of my favourite places. I think the events of 11 March 2004 hit me quite hard because I have friends who live in the city who regularly commute from their homes to their workplace on the Cercania, and pass through Atocha station at about the time the bombs exploded. For those of you who have never visited Atocha, it is an extremely beautiful station that incorporates a botanic garden as well as several cafes and a shopping centre. If only more train stations could be like that. On the few times I visit Madrid, I make a point of going to Atocha, just to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the vegetation. I was last there on 13 February last year, and it was in Atocha that I bought Linda her Valentine's card. I had my breakfast in one of the station's many cafes before heading up to the Retiro for a stroll. I had arrived in the Spanish capital two days earlier, on 11 February - exactly one month prior to the tragic events. I came on the Lusitânia, the overnight train from Lisbon. This train comes into Madrid's Chamartin station, but makes a stop at Atocha. While we were waiting at Atocha, I took the opportunity to stand on the platform and watch the commuters rushing past. We were in the station at 7.50am. Back in Scotland four weeks later, I was watching the BBC Breakfast news when sketchy reports about an explosion in Madrid began to come through. As the extent of the tragedy unfolded, I tuned into TVEi (Spanish TV), and sat watching, hoping against hope that no-one I knew was a victim. I tried phoning the people I knew, but couldn't get through - the Spanish mobile phone network was overloaded. I sent emails to them in the hope that they made it safely to their workplaces and would let me know they were fine. Luckily, not one of my friends or colleagues were hurt, although some of their acquaintances had been injured (thankfully not seriously). So, today I have decided to commemorate M-11 with a collage of photographs I took while I was in Madrid last February. It is my small tribute to the 191 innocent men and women who were killed as they travelled to work, to the 1600 who were injured and to all the Madrileños whose lives have been affected by the bombings.

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