Dear sightseers:

All my life I have experienced the invasion of visitors during the summer season in Madrid. The sun is hitting down hard, one has the feeling that everything is melting, even the pavement.

But they stand and resist: the Japanese tourists with their parasols, long sleeves and cameras. A cliché, of course; many of them are tanned by now. But the first ones are my favorite ones. The following is a portrayal by a local, experiencing Madrid from a Japanese tourist’s point of view. I invite you to learn from Yurie and Tomoko’s chronicle:

Perhaps two girls visiting Madrid from Osaka aren’t anything new. But if we add the accompaniment of a Spaniard (myself), and the fact that they all end up in the middle of the Gay Pride celebration, the situation turns out to be a bit different.

I am more than used to giving tours to all of my foreign friends, and when doing so, always keep in mind their interests. These two girls were quiet, interested in art and, like the most Japanese, in a hurry. Two days in Madrid and many places to see.

I call it express sightseeing. One must go to this museum, followed by this palace, take a break for lunch and quickly move on to another cultural highlight.

But when we were about to leave the Retiro park, the girls turned shy: the Gay Pride celebration had just begun. Armed with their usual curiosity, and with camera in hand, Yurie and Tomoko started capturing all the gay men dancing on the trucks.

“It’s so cool and the environment is so energetic,” said Yurie. Still worried about the fact that they might be overwhelmed by the crowd of people, I asked if they would like to take another way back their hostel. “No, let’s join them,” exclaimed Tomoko.

Perfectly hairless, muscular bodies moved around the streets in their leather clothes. Random drag queen posed for the cameras of the two Japanese girls. Tomoko even scored two signs stating, “My freedom, protect yours” and “Plural, of all them.”

Imagine the scenario: Drag queens on extreme high-heels surround Yurie, a 150 cm tall girl who wears glasses and hides behind her hand every time she laughs.

At first sight, the two girls don’t seem to fit in, but really, they have what is takes to be part of the celebration: a good mood and no prejudices. Too bad they couldn’t speak Spanish and understand what the posters and people around them were proclaiming.

When the party came to an end, Yurie asked me if homosexual marriage is legal in Spain. I said yes.

“I’m glad it is. Now I can take a picture of myself with Tomoko’s sign and post it on Facebook, and then write that I support gay people.” They forgot tortilla, paella, jamón and all the monuments they had visited in Madrid. All that mattered was freedom and gay pride.

We all agreed that they had had a very different experience in Madrid, and for a moment, I thought that they would leave Madrid as locals, not tourists.

Then I received news this morning that they had their handbags stolen just after I left them at the bus station on their way to Malaga. Apparently, they are still too Japanese for merciless Madrid pickpockets.