On March 4th, the Madrid For Refugees team became intrepid explorers as they took on some of the biggest peaks in Spain, that’s to say they went on a fun-filled hike to the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park. This blog narrates the experiences of two new volunteers of the MFR team, Daisy and Laura, as they took part in their first adventure with MFR.
Daisy: On the day of the hike, we all met at Nuevos Ministerios train station. I was warmly welcomed by both Talia and Jerome. They were both super friendly and organised. In total, there were 17 of us on the on the train. I sat with two girls from the US – we clicked instantly. They were both associated with the charity, but I didn’t realise until we started getting to know each other and exchanging stories.
Laura: We arrived at Cercedilla, a charming mountain-side town about an hour north of Madrid which we began our hike from. We got extremely lucky with the weather as not only was it sunny but the mountains were coated in a thick blanket of snow – the first time I had seen snow in about 10 years, which only added to the majestic feeling. We stopped about half an hour in, so Talia and Jerome, the two organisers of the hike, could give us an introduction to the organisation, allowing us to find out exactly where our money would be going and the sort of work they do to help refugees in Madrid.
D: We then had the opportunity to introduce ourselves, which I thought was a great icebreaker, before setting off again. The hike was a very sociable one, I spoke to almost everyone and got to know some great people along the way! At the very peak, we stopped for our lunch. Jerome and Talia had packed an epic picnic feast, including PB&J and ham and cheese sandwiches, crisps, and lots of other great snack to keep us going. Here, we also had the chance to chat as more of a group and take lots of photos of the amazing views of the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park.
By the final leg of the journey, everyone seemed like they had known each other for a lifetime. There was a lot of laughter and fun happening by this point and I felt very relaxed. We regrouped at the bottom of the mountain, and we had some time before the next train arrival, so we all decided to go to the local pub for a celebratory drink – which for me and a few others, turned into three more, and more once we had returned to Madrid!
L: I had a wonderful time on the hike and couldn’t recommend it enough. It’s a great chance to meet new people who share similar mind-sets and explore the gorgeous landscapes Madrid has to offer, all whilst helping a good cause.
D: This was truly my best day in Madrid so far. I was able to be part of something lovely and to make friends who I’m still in contact with now. The hike was really well organised and we were well informed before, throughout, and even afterwards. I will continue to follow and support Madrid for Refugees without a doubt! A massive thank you again to Talia and Jerome!
About the Authors
Daisy is 28 years old and from south London. She’s been in Madrid for just 6 weeks and she’s teaching English as part of the Auxiliares de Conversación programme. Being very new to the city, she really wants to make connections, have cool experiences, and meet people.
D: I am part of various expat groups on Facebook, which is where I initially heard about the hike, cause Jerome posted the event on the Auxiliares de Conversación page. I was immediately interested in the event, not only because it is a great opportunity to meet people, but because from 2008-2012 I worked with failed asylum seekers in London. I wanted to learn more about the Madrid for Refugees charity, so it made perfect sense for me to accept and attend.
Laura is a 23 year old former Anthropology student from London and has been teaching English in Madrid since October 2016. She first heard about MFR through her own research. She was growing tired of talking about how heart-breaking the refugee crisis was with friends and family, whilst she wasn’t actually doing anything to help the situation, and being new to Madrid, she wanted to find out the ways in which she could help here. A quick google search and she was greeted with the MFR homepage.
L: Talia, the volunteer coordinator, told me about this hike which would raise money for the organisation to help refugees. I thought it was a great idea – I’d been on a couple of organised hikes here before and you have to pay the same fee, but instead of lining someone else’s pockets this was going to a cause close to my heart.
If you’re interested in taking part in a hike with the MFR crew, check out this link for more information on their upcoming hike!