The Path of the Turtle: A Retiro Park Chronicle

At 32º C, one should take a siesta if at all possible. Afterwards, however, the afternoon is still young since the sun does not set until after 21:00. The Madrid Book Fair is currently taking place and it is too hot to do the usual flâneuse-style city stroll. Succumbing to lethargy is not recommended though.

What to do? Hop on the metro at Rubén Darío and connect to Príncipe de Vergara at Núñez de Balboa.
All streets, all plazas, and all neighborhoods intuitively connect in Madrid. Before you know it, one of the many gates to Retiro Park appears and looks unequivocally welcoming.
Yes, it’s the Parque del Retiro on a hot June afternoon!

The trees promise some much needed shade. People of all ages walk around, jog, lie on the grass reading or half-asleep, and almost every other person is accompanied by a small and adoring canine. Terrazas here and there offer ice cream, granizados, personal pizzas, soda, and lots of cañas.
You take pause and sit on the ground. You quickly feel prompted to pick another path and see where it takes you.

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A pond nearby attracts the attention of tourists and locals. Pigeons meander as if they own the place. Ducks amble about in their charmingly clumsy way or rest by the water. Baby turtles reach out from under the water to breathe. A couple of geese are fed like royalty by some park visitors who stop to cater to them. Fish can be spotted doing what they do best: floating through life, immersed in refreshing water.
And then, one of the small turtles begins to roam at a noticeably faster pace than what you would expect a turtle to move. It is not afraid of people. It purposefully reaches the edge of the fence and crawls outwardly, trying to cross the path as if on a mission, maybe wanting to get to another pond.
Eleven humans observe with amusement and concern.
Eleven of us stop and watch the path of the turtle. We want to know if it will make it safely, but hesitation makes its appearance on the route of the picturesque reptile. Still flanked by humans, the turtle does not give up, but it looks like it wants to head back, slowly. One of the humans helps it by lifting it up and putting it back on the grassy area by the pond. The turtle starts making its way down to the water, but stops and tries to find another way, perhaps an incline with an easier slide into the water, to no avail.
The willful little turtle starts heading for the fence and tries to get to the other side again. The humans shout: “¡No, no, quédate ahí! No no, stay over there!”…
And the turtle daringly looks up at the humans. The Book Fair is just a few steps away, probably the equivalent of a mere kilometer in turtle steps.

Why can’t I partake in the literary feast?, thought the willful little turtle, perhaps.

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