¡Extran Hero! No More

On Saturday, June 23rd, as I was in the Museo del Prado, my friend Rafa told me to meet him at a quarter past 7 in Puerta del Sol.  Naturally, after my 10 months in Spain I was on “Spanish time” (which has exacerbated my already-existing punctuality issues) so it didn’t occur to me that he’d be throwing a wonderful surprise, which was captured here: 

And when the cards are turned over: 

Rafa coordinated with his friends an incredible ‘despedida’ (or ‘send-off’) to mark my last full weekend in Spain.  The cards on one side say “Extran Hero” and on the other, “Madrileño!”  I have been honored by native Madrileños as one of their own.  The surprise was also, in a way, to make up for my foiled flash mob a few weeks ago to which one person showed up (thank you, Raelynne!)  Though the full impact of the surprise was lost by poor timing, I could not have been more grateful and humbled by this inspired gesture of friendship.   

At the same time, there was another ‘despedida’ happening in Sol, with a group of friends dancing flamenco to iPod speaker-generated music.  With Squidward present, it was a party!

Román, Rafa, and Madrileño Mike.
Afterwards, we went to a bar to watch the Spain vs. France match (¡Viva España!), then another bar, where spent all my energies dancing to American pop and hip hop music.  By the time we got to the “Independance” club, my fellow Americans Carly, Kayla, and I were passed out on the couch.  Looks like I need an extra year to get in closer in touch with my true Madrileño nature!
Americans unable to physically function at 5 a.m.
While Rafa was disappointed by my lack of display of Madrileño party energy, the one true Madrileño continued to express his love and devotion with his very own ¡Extran Hero!…or should I now say, ¡Madrileño! entry, marking my transformation!  They call me a Spanish Peter Parker: ¡Extran Hero! no more.  

Who knew, in addition to being a Spaniard and honorary New Yorker, he was also a talented artist?  Thank you, Rafa, for being the best friend a guy could ask for!