far too much writing, far too many photos

Stayed up far too late last night. Far, far too late. Saw no sign of oversized dude in red suit, no trace of airborne reindeer. Every now and then explosions rattled windows (I have no idea where that custom comes from, am grateful local mischief-makers only started with the fireworks two or three days before Christmas instead of weeks before as in my last barrio of residence), the ‘hood finally going quiet when the celebrants crept off into the early morning darkness, leaving what remained of the night silent, calm, peaceful.

Woke up at nine a.m. to the sound of neighbors in full Christmas morning frenzy — rushing about, yelling back and forth. When I stumbled out to the street, wan morning sunlight fell through thin yuletide cloud cover, quiet reigned. Passed people walking — couples talking softly, individuals appearing slightly dazed, god owners walking four-legged companions. Saw more businesses open than I’d expected — nowhere near the number of a regular weekday, but enough to suggest normal life.

Stumbled into one of my principal morning wake-up joints, found it alive with people eating, talking, getting caffeinated. The big difference between this morning and a standard a.m.: most of the customers were police (blue uniforms) and city cleaning crews (green outfits, w/ bands of reflective lime green) — normal neighborhood foolks were scarce. I hadn’t realized so many sanitation types would be about, gave silent thanks for their continuing work — without them, the city would gradually disappear beneath piles of litter, dog poop and fallen leaves. Whatever they get paid, it’s not enough.

Stepped back out into fresh, strangely mild December air, marginally more awake. Walked down the avenue, enjoying the quiet, dragging out camera now and then, pointed it at things that caught my eye.

Back home, cranked up laptop (why does that sound strangely obscene?), found Christmas emails waiting. Gave thanks for the internet, for a comfy squat, for friends scattered around the map, for clothes to wear, food to eat, for a day of peace and relaxation stretching out ahead.

Feliz Navidad a todos.

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Christmas Eve along la Calle de Princesa, Madrid:

EspaƱa, te amo.

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