Hold on to your seats, it’s the Fiestas of San Isidro, one of the least exciting Spanish fiestas in the country, and yes, it’s the capital of the country that organizes them every year. Oh, when people have dinero I guess the program becomes a little more attractive, but it’s all very relative.
Isidro is the patron saint of Madrid in big part because he was born, lived and died year nearly a thousand years ago in this city. His beginnings were humble, and he spent much of his life as a laborer in the fields owned by a wealthy landowner. He would eventually become bailiff. But Isidro would not be canonized for his plowing skills but rather for his deeply devotion, humility and humanity towards the poor. He was married to a woman name María, known as María of the Head, because her head is toted around the town whenever there is a drought, as if that would steer the atmospheric conditions in the direction of greater rainfall, but after their son was miraculously saved after falling in well (I’ve already talked about this one, so you can go find it), the couple decided to practice sexual abstinence. As proof that they had no faith in their own will power, despite all that praying, they decided to move into separate homes.
Practically nothing is done to honor María, except that she often honors us with a day off, Isidro does get his fair shar of festivities, albeit somewhat cheesy ones. The traditional fiestas zones are the Plaza Mayor, the Vistillas near the Viaducto, and the Pradera of San Isidro, in lower Carabanchel where I used to live. There’s some lively actvity, the music is fairly unchallenged in its modesty, and the food and drink are over-priced, as a rule. But if you want to have a look around, go ahead. I just may do the same.
San Isidro most definitely stands out for its bullfighting fair, the most important one in the taurine calendar. For about four straight weeks, bulls are slaughtered on a daily basis. Ususally the best bullfighters in the world descend upon this ring and give it a go in front of the world’s toughest bullfighting crowd. But this year, with just about everyone cutting back on their budgets, the line-up is pretty lame.
Speaing fo the economy, low budgets and lameness, the famous indignados are out and about threaening to take hold of the Puerta del Sol, just as they did a year ago when they go international attention for occupying the center of the city for several weeks. Wall Street owes its idea to them. It was all quite peaceful and the protesters had many valid points. They were also a model of organization and democratic decision-making, doing their best to be as respectful of the district as possible. Now, the local government was tolerant of it the first time around, but you could rest assured they weren’t going to allow a repeat this year, which is why there were a million police officers there yesterday to ensure no one would be camping out again.
But it doesn’t make the economy any better…and it didn’t give anyone jobs. We’ll be needing a miracle from Saint Isidro for that to happen. And if worse comes to worse, we can always crank out Maria’s head and parade around with that. Yeah, that should help.