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J75 - Wednesday, December 30: 4km after Torrijos – Madrid (Quartier de Carabanchel)

76.87km  10H32’
Altitude 699m
Madrid here we are!
We don’t even realize we are leaving the province of Toledo, the sky is clear and since yesterday Serge knows nothing of the route he is to follow.  The team is organized to guide him as well as possible.  After the reconnaissance with Philippe, yesterday afternoon, I picked up René this morning at Km 10 to show him the remaining 64 kilometers.  Between the map, the road-book and some fine tuning, and not forgetting heavy traffic, I drop René at the van at 12:50, 4 hours later.  We didn’t even have time to stop for a coffee or to use the lavatory.  We did well because we find Serge and Joël at the intersection of Carranque, just before the CM4008, at Km 43.  And once again it starts to rain very hard.  The towns of Carranque and Grinon look like country villages and give us no hint that we are going to enter the highest capital in Europe.
After Humanes de Madrid and Fuenlabrada there is a long, straight line with a multitude of traffic circles.
The hard part is to reach Leganes from Fuenlabrada.  Yesterday, it gave us trouble because the N409, the direct and shortest continuation of our itinerary, becomes a double 2-lane highway as we pass over the superhighway.  So we have to look for an alternate that will be easier; thank you GPS.  The itinerary isn’t ideal but we have no choice.
Joël guides Serge in this complicated system of traffic circles, which get bigger and bigger, and among speeding cars.  It is as tiring as it is stressful and Joël is exhausted this evening.  I have never seen him in such a state!
In a flash René understands the itinerary, which leaves me free to look for Compact Flash cards.  It is just as difficult to find compact Flash memory cards in Spain, even Madrid, as it was to find grapefruit in Portugal. I went to three shops before I found a 4Go card and there was only one shelf of them.  Otherwise, there was only 2Go or even 32Mo ….In short; I drew a blank to find an 8Go card.
I took the opportunity to do some shopping for tomorrow’s dinner because at the shopping center I could find a place to park that didn’t have a height limit of 2 meters.
I leave with my 2 shopping bags and see the doors of the camper open and the police all around…  What’s wrong? It’s a nasty story that ends well for me.  The camper was robbed in less than 20 minutes on in the half deserted parking lot.  The watchman who saw the whole thing on his video screen alerted the police, who come hell-for- leather in a few minutes.  The charming man denied having taking anything from the camper, even after the police found behind the seat of his car, under a blanket: my back pack, my laptop, the back-up hard disks and the liaison station for the satellite.
It’s what is known as being lucky.  I am ready to leave because all’s well that ends well but no, I have to make a deposition at the police station.  They look for a translator and it’s then that I know Serge will finish before me.  And it is I who have all the material, all the maps and the ID cards of everyone and which are required by the hotel before they will give us keys.  The plot thickens!
In the end, the police take me to the hotel and I stop along side Serge and the team, who have almost arrived.  I explain that the camper will arrive later with all the material.  It’s then that I meet David, Gilles and their wives, Angela and Joëlle.  David contacted us by e-mail.  He is French but has been Madrilène by adoption for the past 12 years.  He wanted to accompany Serge for a few kilometers with Gilles, his brother in law, who is an experienced runner.  
Since David speaks fluent Spanish he offers his service as translator to the police, so off we go to the police station.  It’s a funny place to get to know someone.
It’s then that Serge learns what has happened.  He is worried but relieved…….
We still have to do the reconnaissance for tomorrow and it is 7:30 PM by the time David and I get back.  We study the maps with David and since the team is worn out and the traffic horrific in Madrid, it’s agreed that David and Gilles will come back tomorrow at 6:00 AM to take René and Joël on the reconnaissance for the exit from the city.
This evening the vehicles are parked on the street; René will sleep in the Ducato and I in the camper.  We aren’t obsessed but we know that all large cities, particularly capitals, are a place where our vehicles are easy prey to thieves who are as professional and well-organized as the one this afternoon.
For a change, it starts to pour rain at 1:00 PM.  Serge is frozen because his shorts got wet and the humidity reaches all the way to his stomach.  He changes in the van.  In less than one hour we went from 20°C to 9°C, with rain and violent wind.  For 9 of the last 10 days we have had rain. This evening Joëlle tells us that the Spanish have not seen such weather for 30 years: snow in Valencia, rains that flooded houses as well as roads, trees uprooted by the wind and which cut off roads and railways.  We will certainly remember this Spanish crossing, which is like nothing we could have imagined.  Normandy has a serious competitor!
Tomorrow =  Rain and Snow

Town : Madrid (Carabanchel)

GPS : N40.37261° W003.74187°