far too much writing, far too many photos

It’s a holiday in Madrid — El Día de la Hispanidad, which a friend here compared to Commonwealth Day in the U.K. My dictionary defines hispanidad as: (1) group of countries or peoples formed by Spain and by Spain’s colonized peoples whose official language or most spoken language is Spanish; (2) group of common cultural characteristics of those countries/peoples. (My friend also said El Día de la Hispanidad is kind of like ‘el día de la raza España’ — the day of the Spanish ‘race’ — though, he added, that would be more along the lines of the fascist, Franquista take on it.) It falls on October 12th, the day the expedition of Columbus (called Cristobal Colón here) made landfall in the Caribbean, believing they’d reached India. Meaning most of Madrid has the day off. Meaning many people either flee the city or go to the movies.

One effect of the short work week: it magically endows the weekend with two Friday nights. The result: Thursday = party time. Yesterday evening around 7:30, I brought a pair of my pointy black boots to a shoe repair shop a few blocks from here, passing through crowded streets humming with the early weekend vibe. A short time later, I caught a Metro train over to the barrio of Salamanca to meet a Spanish friend, Jaime, for an intercambio. (An intercambio: you get together with a Spaniard who’s working on his/her English; half the time you converse in Castellano, the other half in English.) A train packed with people, many of them young and ready for big celebrating.

I reached the café before Jaime, ordered an espresso, watched the street life streaming by on a mild, pretty October night. People of all sorts, a few in some sort of traditional dress. As in centuries and centuries of tradition, a bit medieval looking, which in the case of two young men featured rows of small crests on the front of their outfits. One of the two played an acoustic guitar as they went quickly by.

I waited. I did some homework (exercises re: the overabundant differences between the verbs ser and estar) because I’m such a good boy. (I actually am a good boy.) (No, really.)

Yesterday was the first day I saw leaves blowing here, reminding me all over again that it’s autumn. There’s not much in the way of color locally, just faded greens and browns. By the second half of August, the leaves on some trees around the city begin to wither up and fall from months of hot, dry weather. Come the end of September, rain arrives, nighttime temperatures begin to cool, the falling of leaves picks up steam. As I stood at a crosswalk yesterday, they came gently down, blowing by me. There’s nothing like the sound of leaves in the street swirling around before a breeze.

A friend wrote me that he spent Columbus Day weekend camping out in northern Vermont. Big color, leaves falling, nippy weather. Rain, sunshine, even an encounter with snow. (It starts up in October in northern Vermont.) I love Madrid, but I miss autumn in New England.

It began raining near the end of the intercambio, we called it a night. I retreated to the Metro and, on emerging back aboveground here in Chueca, found plenty of people out enjoying the night, rain or no rain.

The barrio I lived in last year was fine in many respects, but come the weekend, activity essentially died. When I moved in here, I felt some apprehension about the people/noise factor, but it so far hasn’t felt like much of a problem. Kind of a surprise, that.

Anyway. El Día de la Hispanidad. Big military parade — the Spanish army takes over el Paseo de la Castellana, a major north-south route to the east of here (eight lanes — four in the center, long park-like islands to either side, two more lanes beyond them for local access), and shows off for the political bigwigs, king and queen included. Featuring military aircraft doing flyovers, including three jets trailing colored smoke to suggest the three stripes of the Spanish flag.

Someone said that the incidents of flyovers earlier in the week may have been prep. for this display, with no connection to what’s going on in Afghanistan. Me, I have no idea, but that thought feels better.

A final, unrelated item: yesterday I noticed someone hanging huge spreads of posters on the wall across the street — the same one over and over again, two or three rows high, ten or twelve long, extensive enough to look like wallpaper. Until you move closer and see that they’re ads for a troupe of male dancers — ‘Tomás Dancers,’ vaguely along the lines of the Chippendale Dancers. Big, pumped-up, goofy-looking, nearly-nekkid males that dance for women. Only I suspect this group dances for guys.

To each their own.

Leave a Reply

Proudly powered by WordPress. Theme developed with WordPress Theme Generator.
Copyright © runswithscissors. All rights reserved.