far too much writing, far too many photos

Marco, the Venezuelan, didn’t show for class today. (Was it something we said?) Neither did two of the regulars, leaving me with Pietro, Nory and our profesora, Alicia, for a relaxed morning in which Alicia shoveled lots more subjunctive dreck in our direction. For the most part, I don’t do too badly with that stuff, but there were two or three moments as we plowed through various exercises in which I felt like I was paddling as fast as I could but still not seeing something way obvious.

Another long, active day, packed with thrills and wholesome entertainment. The highlight? A school trip. Mighty interesting.

The group that went: 15 or 16 characters, mostly Americans. Mostly young Americans (lots of whom don’t seem to want to speak Spanish, which raises the question of why they’re there studying it, though that’s probably none of my business — could be they’re on vacation and might not want to spend it as obsessively as, er, I am). Also a couple of nuns, one Japanese. Also Ángel, one — along with his two brothers, Ramón and Chiqui (don’t hold me to the spelling of Chiqui, I could easily be blinkered) — of the school’s owners, herding us along, doing all the talking in slow, carefully enunciated, carefully thought-out Spanish. Also another Spanish 40ish male I’ve never seen before who devoted a lot of attention to the more nubile teenage American females in the group.

Ángel — a genuinely nice person, as his brothers seem to be — had a presentation put together for the whole do, commencing just before we descended into the Metro when he tried to take a moment and provide context for what we were going to be seeing. Pretty interesting context, too. The contrast between the Madrid of 2+ centuries ago and the current sprawling world-class version would be hard to make more dramatic than it already is.

Our destination: la Panteón de Goya (Goya’s Pantheon), a small church/museum with an interesting, quirky history/background, featuring sprawling expanses of frescos done by, er, Goya, not to mention his body moldering under a big slab of stone. Interesting though the place may be, I could easily bore the bejesus out of you if I tried to lay it all out here. Suffice it to say that Ángel supplied piles of information that helped me get more out of the place than I otherwise would have.

One teensy bit of quirkiness:

As with many churches, la Panteón is laid out in the shape of a cross. On the opposing walls that delineate the two ends of the crucifix’s crosspiece, there are two vertical paintings by Goya, the only sections of wall to sport such images (all the rest are up above). Both paintings focus on figures representing saints, who in turn represent figures from the Spanish royalty of that time. The figure of a San Carlos Borromeo in one of the paintings, who represented the then-Spanish-king Carlos IV, is essentially — and I am not making this up — the spitting image of Data, from the Starship Enterprise, albeit with the hair style and burnoose outfit of a monk. But I mean the spitting image, from the nose and eyes to the white, white skin, etc. Raises some interesting questions about time travel and the Prime Directive.

Took myself to a film from there, then home. I’d considered heading out to a play this evening, but let’s get real. Plus, tomorrow in class, Alicia is going to beat the living daylights out of us with a general review of the thousands and thousands of uses and exceptions of the subjunctive verb form, meaning we’ll be doing far too many exercises and feeling a bit dim if we don’t know the answers. So I must go pretend to study for a while.


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