far too much writing, far too many photos

Two evenings ago, around 7:30, standing looking out a window before class started. Watching the evening street life down on la Calle de Arenal. I notice that one of the crawler-type light readouts over a storefront includes the time and temperature among the advertising hooha. The temperature at that time: 38ºC. That — according to this handy online temperature conversion thingie, works out to 100.4ºF.

June 11. 100º. Granted, there’s no way of knowing where the thermometer responsible for that reading was positioned. Could make a difference. On the other hand, maybe not. Late in the day, sun getting low in the sky. Air feeling warm enough that the actual temperature might possibly be in the 100º zone.

After class, went out to hoist a caña, gobble down a pincho of tortilla with the professor, the other lone student in class, and a couple of female language instructors from the school. Nice people, good food, tasty potables. A nice time. When we stepped back out into the street around 10, the air wrapped itself softly around us, its heat impossible to ignore but too gentle to be oppressive. Yesterday continued hot. But this morning when I dragged myself out of bed and tossed open some windows, the weather had taken a turn toward something a bit cooler and fresher. At least during the morning hours. The afternoon got intense, with all the concrete, asphalt, bricks soaking up the sunlight and radiating it back.

I’ve paid little or no attention to the local weather reports lately. Summer’s arrived, the deal has been more or less the same from day to day for a while now. Not much point in hearing them tell me how hot it’s going to get, that’ll just get me thinking more about than I already do. What comes along comes along, and overall it’s been pretty sweet.

It might be taking its toll on the locals, though, because there have been strange things happening. (WARNING: SPORTS AND POLITICS COMING!) First there’s Real Madrid, Madrid’s premier soccer (or fútbol, as they call it here) team, an expensive collection of many of the soccer world’s biggest names. Who, despite all the heavyweight talent, don’t have to will or the chemistry to rise to the level everyone wants them to rise to. They rise tantalizing high, high enough to get everyone feeling happily smug, and then they stop delivering. After taking Manchester United in the Champions League semi-finals, they couldn’t get the job done against Milan, leading to the first ever all Italy final. Same thing in the Spanish league, where they should be kicking butt. They just can’t seem to deliver.

Then there’s the Spanish national team. Another collection of tremendously talented players, with two games this last week in the Eurocup competition. They lost the first game, to the Greek national team — “¡A Grecia,” said D., my intercambio, last night, “que es una mierda!” (To Greece, who suck! His words, not mine, I add hastily for the benefit of anyone of Greek descent. Me, I know nothing.) Then two nights ago, they played Northern Ireland and couldn’t do any better than a 0-0 tie. They created loads of shooting opportunities but couldn’t get the job done. Against two teams nowhere near as packed with talent and savvy as the Spaniards. Strange, but there it is.

And then there’s local politics. The poop hit the fan a few days back and continues to fly in bizarre fashion. The Socialists (el PSOE), after eking out a major win in the May 25 elections by taking the government of the Community of Madrid from el Partido Popular by one seat in the Madrid Assembly (in combination with la Izquierda Unida — the United Left, the current incarnation (I’m told) of the Communist Party), ran into major, unexpected difficulties. Earlier this week, on the day of the new Assembly’s first session, the day officers of the chamber are elected — two Socialist councillors deliberately did not show up. They not only didn’t show up, they did not answer their phones all day, remaining carefully and completely out of touch. Two people, exactly the number needed to give the PP a one-vote edge, which enabled them to take the post of President of the Chamber, and which has thrown the Socialist party and the Community government overall into an uproar. The two members had no real explanations for their disappearance — one of them tried to explain it away, without success — so that they were quickly expelled from the party, and will apparently be brought up on charges of corruption, there supposedly being what some people feel to be sufficient evidence of possible bribes to justify the charges. Meanwhile, the Socialists are two seats short, the results of the election have been essentially trashed, and the PP wants new elections immediately, while the PSOE wants time.

Two people. Exactly the number needed to give back control of the government to the PP. There are those who find that highly suspect. And there are others who are quietly happy with the change in fortunes, while the higher-ups in the PP, after a day or two of what appeared to be civil restraint, are making political hay.

Sports and politics. Not bringing much joy to many here right now. The prospect of new elections does not promise much fun, and has me appreciating the fact that I’ll be far away for a few months. Up in the green mountains of northern Vermont, in what could easily pass for paradise during the warm season (once the black flies go away). And into some of the cold season, for that matter, right up through Halloween.

Soon. In a matter of days.

Meanwhile, life in this beautiful city goes on. Hot, a bit tumultuous, but satisfying, with no shortage of entertainment.

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