In a future post, I’m going to talk about WordCamps, my activity within the WordPress community, the Swiss, Italian, French and Spanish communities as well as the global one.
Why I traveled to Madrid
Last August, when I was at the Community Summit in the USA, I was in a conversation during which two of my Spanish friends, Juan Hernando and Javier Casares, from the international community, were talking (if I recall well) about how great the Spanish community is, how many WordCamps they have per year in Spain and how many meetup groups there are.
After attending for many years WordCamps in France and Italy and co-organising in Switzerland, I decided that it was about time to get to know the Spanish community as well.
When I got back home from the USA, I had a look at the dates of announced WordCamps and thought I’d drive to Valencia for the 10-11 November WordCamp and drive to Verona in Italy during the week to attend the WordCamp Verona on 17-18 where I’ll be giving a talk!
I later discovered that these dates conflicted with some commitments here at home and decided to go to WordCamp Madrid instead, by plane, even though I’ve already flown this year (USA) and don’t like it (fear of flying and carbon footprint).
Early September, I started to learn Spanish, watching “La Casa de Papel” as well as 3 or 4 films, listening to WPPodcast.es (I listened to almost 2 years of news 😅) and watching some of the Un billete a Chattanooga episodes. Plus learning on Duolingo.
I’m glad I was at least able to introduce myself and talk to people in their language (very basic conversations before switching to English, or mixing languages)! It was easy to have a good laugh together at all the swear words I learnt in “La Casa de Papel” 😏.
Meeting people was wonderful. People I only knew from Slack (the international “Make”), or my fellow co-organisers of the next WordCamp Europe (there were 14 of us in Madrid), or people who have never been to WordCamp Europe and whom I’ve never had the chance to meet!
And of course seeing old friends, both those I see “often” = every year at WordCamp Europe, and those I haven’t seen for a long time! I’m thinking in particular of one person, Mauricio Gelves, who had withdrawn a little from the community in recent years, has travelled a lot but he was there, and beautifully accompanied and happy! (It was so good to see you again!)
I was happy with the project-oriented conversations I had as well, either about my Interaction.Site project, which I received positive feedback on, or other people’s projects, such as the nice WPTalkLink by Javi Guembe.
Mindset, impostor syndrome, ADHD, languages, life (and illness and death) were also in personal conversations that I appreciated a lot!
I was delighted to see that Emma Young and myself were wearing the same earrings! A 3D-printed WordPress logo received as a gift by Courtney Robertson at WordCamp US. People noticed them!
The WordCamp was very well organised, with very efficient and welcoming organisers and volunteers. The sponsors’ area was in the centre, which is a must in my opinion (opinion based on my experience of organising these events, and gathered from sponsors after WordCamp US 2023). Particular attention was paid to decoration, and it was easy to find where each sponsor booth was!
We were around 600 people, which is almost the number of attendees of the first WordCamp Europe 10 years ago in Leiden-The Netherlands (that one was my first WordCamp ever and where I fell in love with those events).
If you know me, you’ll know that I’m not capable to focus for too long during a presentation – I even tend to fall asleep in the darker rooms! I only attended the opening and closing remarks, as well as three short presentations. I’m not very good at summarising presentations anyway, and you can find them all on wordpress.tv.
I loved the celebration during the opening remarks, the organisers arriving on stage to music and so happy to be opening the first WordCamp Madrid in 4 and a half years (yes, you know, some virus has cancelled all events in 2020-2021). I loved the way the amazing Carla Saiz ran the show!
Southern Europe countries events and people are warm! WordCamps are a fiesta!
The contributor day:
It was also a success and I learnt a lot at the Community table, the challenges faced, the projects. I will not say I understood everything but a good part of it!
Topics which I can bring back to discussions in Switzerland (soon the be announced: A Community Day in Switzerland on 23 March 2024, subscribe there).
On my first day in Madrid, I visited a bit the city center.
Of course, in an afternoon, there’s only so much to see, but strolling the streets, having a coffee on a terrace and watching people go by gives you the feeling and the atmosphere.
I also went out in the evening to eat Patatas y Redonditas con salsa Las Bravas with friends on Friday in the city centre, and on Saturday evening in a shopping centre (yes, shopping centres close at 2am! unlike in Switzerland 😅)
On the Sunday evening at the station with “the last 14”, then “the last 4” people from the event! Staying until the very last bit made the end easier, as WordCamps are very emotional for me and I don’t like when I go from being with a lot of people and full of energy to … being alone, there it was gradual.
I was also able to discover a bit of Spanish culture, as the event was followed by a ‘Verbena Madrileña’ with traditional dancers, which was very nice! I even took home one of the roses to remember the moment!
I can’t thank enough the people who made my whole experience extraordinary, the people I got to talk to, the people who made me want to take part, the people I was able to spend time with after the event and with whom I had meaningful conversations, and my personal driver (private joke 😉).
The other WordCamps I attended in 2023 are WordCamp Switzerland (co-organiser), WordCamp Europe (volunteer), Community Summit + WordCamp US (volunteer and backup speaker), WordCamp Biarritz (volunteer and mentor), and next week WordCamp Verona (speaker). A recap of the year is coming after WordCamp Verona!