There’s something about having a secret: A delicious mystery, a sense of magic, an unspoken adventure.
El Campo de Cebada is hardly a secret – not to locals, anyway. But when Maria, Dylan and I decided that a padlocked gate wouldn’t stop us, and that we would jump that wall and see just what was behind that graffiti-covered fence beside the La Latina Metro station, we discovered what we felt was kind of our own little secret.
It was originally a half-built swimming pool, abandoned mid-construction. What we found, after awkwardly pulling ourselves over a concrete wall, was an urban adventurer’s haven: a giant, rectangular concrete hole in the ground with a makeshift urban garden, basketball court and movie theater. Planks of wood, metal poles and a variety of odds and ends (think old pipes, rope, chains, mismatched chairs, that kind of thing) had been cobbled together to create a part-playground, part drinking spot.
The walls were covered in art; some rebellious, some obscene, some incomprehensible, but all of it fantastic.
It was – I’m not even kidding – the coolest place ever.
We ended up picking up a few cans of Mahou (that infamous beer that waiters here hand you whenever you ask vaguely for cerveza: light, cheap and just the thing for hot, thirsty days) and sitting under the shade, on a swing someone built by attaching a wooden bench to some beams with a chain.
It was the perfect way to spend our last Saturday afternoon in Madrid: cold drinks and good conversation in a secret city place.