Haunting Madrid: traffic  (photo of the "Casa de Correos" / Communications Palace)

bruyant(e) [brwee-yahn(t)] adjective
  noisy; resounding; loud; boisterous

Les petites peines sont bruyantes et les grandes, muettes.
Little sorrows are loud, great ones silent.
--Danish Proverb

It didn't take a Spanish weekend to figure out the significance of 48.* By the time Jean-Marc pushed open the door to the madriliène* "suite" he had reserved, I quickly understood the riddle: forty-eight rhymes with cheap date. So there you go, and there I went, and haltingly so, into the room, jaws dropped and eyes wide open, my arm bent and hand wagging as I let my husband know that this one took the cake.

For forty-eight euros the room had everything but bed bugs. The double bed (so short that Jean-Marc's pieds* hung two feet over the edge) had one long pillow-for-two. Blue satiny curtains concealed rotting shutters and the room's light fixtures were obscene: dainty gray-smoked flutes giving birth to giant misfit bulbs. The slippery tub was slightly longer than the cracked sink and
missing a chain for emptying the intemperate water; the imprinted towels were stolen and, as for the toilet--which was shoved against the wall lengthwise--the only way to sit was sidesaddle.

No matter, we would only use the room for sleeping. But sleep, I would soon learn, is one thing Madrileños* don't do. This I discovered at two, three, four, five and even six in the morning when the street below ebbed and flowed with the most startling sounds. Lying there in bed, I pictured people pouring out of the bars and onto the street below our window. Amid the non-stop Spanish
murmur, I heard laughing, shouting, clacking, and even mass clinking when, at dawn, I imagined the street cleaners were pushing the noisy fêtards* along and out with the empty bottles. I could finally unwrap my head (having found a purpose for that unusually long pillow*) and breathe easy. Only now the thud of so many steel curtains crashing against the stone sidewalk took over. As the bars closed, the streets reopened to the venerable Madrileños who were up and whistling through the streets, walking the dogs with a clack, clack, clack of the heel. And, thanks to the church-bound motorists, we now had a new beat: bark-bark-clack-clack-HOOONK!-bark-bark-clack-clack-HOOONK!

Now I know where those bed bugs went: out of their minds.

References: 48 = reference to the last story; Madriliène = inhabitant of Madrid; les pieds (mpl) = feet; Madrileño = (Spanish for "native of Madrid"); un fêtard (une fêtarde) = merrymaker, roisterer (party animal); long pillow / bolster = un traversin
::Audio Clip::
Hear Jean-Marc read the following proverb in French: Download Bruyant.wav

Les petites peines sont bruyantes et les grandes, muettes.

Related Terms & Expressions:
  bruyamment = noisily, loudly

In Books & More...
"Pimsleur French I" includes 30 lessons of essential grammar & vocabulary:

Five Language Visual Dictionary: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian

Lenore Tawney: Signs on the Wind: Postcard Collages

Cooking/wine magazine (Printed in French) Cuisine Et Vins De France

Must-haves for travelling in peace and quiet, and for a good night's sleep: French ear plugs!

Moleskin City Notebook: Madrid.

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety