far too much writing, far too many photos

Man, there’s been a lot going on in recent days, with no time to plant my posterior in a chair and write any of it down to inflict on unsuspecting cybervisitors. (’Til now.)

Christmas day: left just before 1 p.m., took Line 10 of the Metro to Principe Pio. Line 10 — clean, modern, looking practically brand-spanking new. Within the last few months, the city picked up a new fleet of spacious, streamlined, high-tech trains, complete with numerous plasma-screen television monitors in each car broadcasting weather, news headlines, scenes from Madrid, blahblahblah. Plus, each coach is open on both ends so that you can see all the way to either end of the train, which I find to be big fun for some reason. Simple thrills for simple minds.

Across from me sat three eastern European males, one slender 40-something guy in between two 20-somethings, all with a very particular eastern European kind of aspect. I sat down across from one of the 20-somethings, he gave me a look of some sort, studying me. Then the other 20-something did the same. The older one, also, but not as lingering or direct. Then the first 20-something made a show of doing something with a fist over his mouth — yawning? clearing his throat? who knows — which he used to make a comment of some sort, apparently about me. All I could do was smile and get out a book to read. (As an attorney I once knew used to say, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about you.)

At Principe Pio, I caught a bus and made the 30-minute ride out to Villaviciosa, the reasonably well-heeled suburban enclave in which my landlords (John: American; Pat: English) have taken refuge for years and years and years in a lovely brick house they themselves built on a very green third of an acre lot. They’re an extremely entertaining bunch, my landlords’ clan — generous, voluble, right out there with who they are. The kids — Bobby and Anna, both 20-somethings — are smart, bilingual, enjoyable to be around, with striking similiarities and differences. Anna, in particular, speaks Spanish that is fast, fluid and beautifully musical. Also present: Bobby’s Spanish sweetheart, Sandra. A spicy blend of personalities, and a fine spread of food, from pre-meal nosh to a fine, classic turkey-and-stuffing main course with some less traditional side dishes, to a large, delicious English Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. Plus party favors and moments of hilarity. What a deal!

Brief aside: Between a slowly-sipped pre-dinner beer, a couple of glasses of mineral water (not to mention a glass or two of bubbly cider) with the meal, and a couple of cups of tea afterward, my bladder decided it had a bunch of work to do. Resulting in increasingly frequent trips to the loo as the afternoon wore on, to the point where it may have become worrisome to my hosts. NOTE TO MY HOSTS: I am not bulemic. I was not making room for successive courses of Christmas chow. I was simply obeying my increasingly-distressed plumbing and dumping the ballast. Honest. End of aside.

After dinner: a pause for chat/tea, then an hour-long walk. After which I made the bus trip back to the city, now busy with Christmas night revelry — young folks everywhere, readying for some serious partying; the occasional explosion from heavy-duty fireworks ringing out — stumbling in the door to my piso at 9 p.m. Not a bad day.

[continued in next entry]

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