It's all over but the frequent flyer mile posting -- I'm back from a very quick tour of Lotusphere Comes to You in Madrid and Barcelona.  Family commitments drove me to rush right back from Barcelona, one of my favorite cities in the world, but it was still a great week and only makes me want to return sooner rather than later.

The IBM Spain team put together two excellent LCTY events this past week.  Both were well-organized, professionally-run, and had great food and venues.  More importantly, the speakers were excellent, the customer case studies resonated, and I met some really interesting colleagues in person for the first time.  In the process, I had a little bit of fun and some great food (see my Twitpic stream for some tapas).  I also enjoyed hanging out with some people who I hadn't spent enough time with -- my IBM colleague Luis Suarez, in his home country, and Vitor Periera, who made the super-human effort to drive to Madrid from his home in Lisbon, Portugal (and won a Plantronics headset giveaway in the process!).  Tuesday night in Madrid with them was magical, and I am really happy to count them among my friends.

I'm sure Twitter readers think I was mostly in Spain to eat -- tapas, el museo del jamón, churros, and yes, pig's ear (no, I didn't like that one) -- but really I was there to build relationships.  It was great to meet many of the ESLUG members  -- the Spanish Lotus Users Group -- in person.  You can see several pictures and a wrapup on their website and on some of the individual blogs.  ESLUG is a little different than the other Lotus user groups I've encountered.  It is a small group, everyone is friends, and while they collaborate and are even developing a number of interesting technology projects, it is also quite clear that this is a social club as well.  ESLUG is a community, and as such represents the best of what the Lotus software world is all about.  It is precisely because of the ESLUG members, specifically Albert Buendía, that I ended up at the Spanish LCTYs -- he asked my IBM colleagues to invite me to the event.  I then had the pleasure of working with Lotus marketing manager Valeri Illescas to build my presentation and participation.  She also translated the slides into Spanish, and cleaned up my broken Latin Spanish into clean Castillian Spanish for presentation.

It wasn't a perfect week.  I again didn't have any 1:1 sit-down customer meetings, and while I tried harder to introduce myself during breaks and lunch, still did not get to put several faces with names in both cities.  My presentation in Madrid, while well-received, was relatively flat and robotic -- as I said in the previous blog entry, I was incredibly nervous for my first public speaking endeavor in another language, even with an improvised teleprompter to assist.  In Barcelona, the nervousness was gone, and I had already done it once -- so the presentation went much better.  I still choked on the big words, but the audience was just as nice as in Madrid about it, and I had many compliments from IBMers and customers through the day about how fluent I sounded.

As a result, I think I fell back in love with the Spanish language this week.  It's been 20 years since I studied it, and I really don't have a daily occasion to use it.  But in Spain, it pulsed through my veins, stronger by the day.  Comprehending what was said to me was still tough, just due to speed and accent, but another week or two in-market and I'd feel really good about it again.  Especially if I could get those darn verb tenses right.

There was no sightseeing this week, but there was a reminder of how Spain is an incredible and unique place.  I hadn't visited for seven years (ten years for Madrid) yet it all came back so quickly.  And was over just as soon.  I hope the occasion to return will come soon, professionally or personally -- hasta pronto, España.  Y gracias a todos por una buena semana.

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