Remembering San Isidro and his successors

San Isidro? The patron saint of Madrid. Celebrated 12-15 May.

No pasarán exhibition

Saw a long line waiting in Plaza Mayor last weekend. Discovered yesterday that it was for a very moving exhibition, on the defence of Madrid by locals, the International Brigade and the Russians against Franco’s troops.

From initially unsuccessful attacks in mid 1936 by Franco’s soldiers, to their eventual success 3 years later, Madrid was a city under siege. Add to the siege aerial bombing by the German airforce. Photos of bombed buildings near my present apartment helped bring it home a little but more so the interviews with a set of oldies who lived through it and the various photos. Very moving.

The Madrilenos co-opted one of those beautiful little snappy mottos : aimed at the fascists (Franco’s lot), ‘they will not pass’ (no pasarán). But, eventually they did and, Franco ruled as a dictator until he died over 30 years later.

Lunch

I needed consolation after the exhibition. Had lunch at Gingers, one of the best here yet: fish soup and then salmon fingers. Sounds and looks mundane but not so. And yeasty bread. Hmmm.

It was then time to go home to tackle prepositions again.

Student life

I’m moving to level B2 next week, the higher of the two intermediate levels of Spanish. Hooray! But only one week in school to go. 😭. More time would be good so l know I’ll be back sometime, after the school moves to a bigger place next month.

However, except for one student on one occasion last week, all my fellow students in my 3 hour morning class come late everyday. From 5’ to 40’ late. Must be hard for Mario, the teacher, to have to identify the page we’re working on again and again. We remain pretty diverse: Russian, Norwegian and Romanian. Very occasionally 1 or 2 Chinese students come too.

Back to some history

As you’ve probably guessed, the past lives everywhere here if you know where to look. During an excursion on Friday we visited a house, an apparently nothing house on a street not far from the Plaza Mayor. But, inside, you can see sections of the Madrid city wall, the Christian wall, extant in about the 15th or 16th century. The current house has it as a support. True!

Visited another museum, one focussed on San Isidro, the patron saint of Madrid. Don’t ask. However, what was most impressive was the bones of an auroch and of an elephant found around Madrid. I was especially impressed by the huge size of the auroch skull. Just look at it.

Forget your little woolly mammoths! Tough life being on hunting duty as a Neanderthal in auroch season.

Paco the philosopher

Paco is a poetry loving philosopher. As a hairdresser, he’s interesting. Told him my hair was very thick and needed cutting. Yes, my Spanish is good enough for that. Some outcomes are that I now: won’t need the brush from the kit Emirates distributed on the flight here, know my scalp is pink and, I’ll need a hat even if the sun doesn’t ever shine again. 😏

A hairdresser-come-poetry-loving-philosopher, perhaps more than regular hairdressers, needs to talk. With 40’ of conversation to deliver he clearly felt obliged to keep cutting, and cutting for that time. And some more cutting. Note that I don’t know how to ask in Spanish for a crew cut to test if my ears stick out. Nor could I ask for a cut that means I won’t need to use hairwax for weeks to come.

Sigh. Despite hearing his stories for the second time I still can’t work out why he keeps sharing with the very depressed guy whose kids live in Scotland nor where his own 12 year old son lives. And his sciatica still precludes him distance walking but he’s doing Pilates. Sigh. Perhaps another hairdresser next time! If my hair ever regrows enough.

About town.

On a Sunday the road, Paso Del Prado is shut to traffic for hours. Dancers filled one section today.

Other areas have constant entertainment too. From kids teasing a ‘goat’ to a band (?Salvos) to the guys who, while constantly one step in front of the police, are trying to sell things from the central sections of major pedestrian thoroughfares.

If you are hungry there are so many options everywhere. From the San Miguel market to cafes and restaurants. Everywhere. Snacks and more.

if you still can’t find something to interest you, what about the following: some fancy dress and some new decorations; another reminder that the past is all around is the plaque high up on a modern wall showing the location of the Gate of Guadalajara through the city walls in the Middle Ages; a snack that, as it’s permitted on the Atkins diet, is well, going to be tasty and um fatty; and a beautiful living green wall.

Then there are the pedestrian walk lights around here. Different.

Still some more weekend to go. My last in Madrid for a little while. Next weekend I’m heading down to coastal spain to start walking. Another blogger suggested I check facebook for the Almeria Friends of the Mozarabe. Phew: the washout i had to jump last time when with Benedo and Manolo is currently being filled. Now to get going before it rains down there!

For the week

And finally, as a heretic visiting a local church this week that had a very long line waiting for the Friday mass, being amazed again at some of the edifices we humans construct. And thinking how astounding our commitment is that we support a huge group of related workers after the building phase, providing their institutions a tax free existence and supporting their efforts in many ways over the centuries. What impels us humans to do this now and since time immemorial?

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