Holy Week is over…a looong time ago

Every culture is different, there is nothing different about that.  And any difference is cultural, and there is nothing particularly cultured about that.

   Still, I get a kick out of observing these nuances.  Yes, I know. Holy Week ended nearly  a month ago and some of you may have thought that old man Murdock was going to finish another string of posts without actually finishing up…like some forgotten home chore…a book undusted…a shirt unironed…a plate unwashed.

     This time it almost happened, but I still had that one afterthought in mind because it really does strike me as something peculiar.  On Easter Sunday, when millions of Christians rise and celebrate the resurrection of Christ, what goes through the minds of a large percentage of the Spanish population is: “Hope the traffic’s not too bad on the way home,” basically because it will be bad…the unknown element is just how much.

     And that pretty much sums up the Easter holiday weekend.  Oh, you hear an occasional “Happy Easter” or eye the odd chocolate egg in a pastry shop, but other than than that, the day that marks the grand triumph of Jesus’ return to life and ensure that we will all be saved from eternal damnation somehow doesn’t quite get the news coverage you would otherwise expect.  It’s as if the aspect of this week which most attracts the Spanish is the accompanying of Christ in his lowest, loneliest and most desperate moments; weeping for him; suffering from his suffering, and then saying, “Ok, that’s over with. See you next year, same hill, same cross.”

        I have mentioned this curious approach to the week to a number of Spaniards and many have noted that they had never thought about it before and agreed that I had point.  Not that they feel I am right.  “That’s true.” is often their vague reply.  “Interesting.”   I even brought it to the attention of a priest who also saw what I was getting at but added “Well, that’s because it’s Good Friday and it’s the big day of the year.  The most important one.”

     “What do you mean it’s the most important one?”  No doubt it’s the most solemn moment in the Christian calendar, but wait, that’s not where it ends.   “A lot of people get crucified,” I continued.  “Very few actually slide a five-ton boulder away from their grave a few days later and return to their friends to say that all is well.  I mean, that’s sort of what sets him apart from other individuals who have been executed throughout the ages, don’t you think?”

        “Yeah, that’s true.”  Again that distant acknowledgement.

        But that brings me to my point.  There is no point in fighting culture when it comes to these traditions.   It’s is simply the way things are done here.  So, with the very lowest expectations in mind, I went down on Easter Sunday to the Plaza Mayor to watch the tamborada, which is a big drum fest put on by two marching bands.  It was the only official event on the city’s agenda for that day.  I gathered that at least something was being being done for Easter, I might as well go and see it.   And, well, while not quite the mind-blowing experience I expected it to be, it was fairly entertaining.  I was especially impressed by the wide range of ages in the group.  It was from a small town in Zaragoza and my guess is that the local audiologist is the richest man in the area, as well as the licensed firearms purveyor.

      Yes, it was fun to watch and listen to you.  It lasted about an hour and when it was over, the leader of the group concluded out loud, as best as he could because for some reason he had no microphone to communicate with five thousand people from ground level at an outdoor event, “Thank you very much.  That ends Holy Week for this year.”  And they started rolling the drums again and departed.

        There you have it.

Holy Week in Madrid 9

The Basilica of Jesus de Medinaceli is surprisingly one of the newest of the classic churches (it wasn’t consecrated until 1930) and yet one of the most popular in the capital mainly because of the cult of the statue of Jesus the Nazarene.

       This figure, more commonly known as Jesus of Medinaceli, was actually made in Sevilleback in the early 17th Century and later was stolen and taken to Morocco where it was held for ransom.  Once returned, it was moved to Madrid by the Duke of Medinaceli and placed under the supervision of the Trinitarian monks, also known as the capuchins.  The monastery remained until the late 19th Century, but when appeared the order would lose its house, a new church was commissioned by the same noble family.  The Christ figure barely survived the Spanish Civil War.

        Now it has become one of the most sacred icons in the city, for the religiously faithful, that is.  It stands above the main altar but every first Friday of the each month, the gates to small chapel are opened and the many flock to go up and adore it.  The biggest date is the first Friday of March where the numbers could rival those of youths lining up to buy tickets to their favorite rock group.  Jesus Christ Superstar.  That’s right.  Some people even wait in line for two days and then sell their place to the highest bidder.  I kid you not.

        Well, that’s where we were going.  To the basilica to see the end of that procession.  The church is right next to the backside of the famousHotelPalace, one of the most elite in Madrid.

        The street is aptly called the Calle de Jesús, and the police barricades ran along the sidewalk to keep people from invading the asphalt.  But they were deserted, so we knew nothing would be there any time soon.  The procession was out somewhere in the streets of Madrid.

       We made plans to meet some friends in the Taberna La Daniela, which is right in front of the main entrance of the church.  Perfect.  No better place to wait.  We learned from one of those expert procession-watchers (generally women over the age of 50), who told us that when the statue returned, a paso with the Mary on it would come out from the church to greet it.

         La Daniela specializes in the cocido madrileño, a chickpea-based stew that is one of the capital’s most typical dishes.  The cocido is traditionally a poor man’s recipe made of garbanzos, bones, lard, bacon, hen meat and a bit of beef.  It has since become a rich man’s delicacy in some of these places.  You don’t eat a cocido for dinner, but you can have some tapas, and La Daniela has plenty of them.  We had some cocido croquettes (I was let down), some fried slices of eggplant (outstanding) and a decent mini tortilla.  We had a couple of cañas, small glasses of beer, to accompany.

       Jorge’s mother was with us too.  She loved going to the processions.  We got to talking about the old Catholic tradition of abstaining from meat on Fridays during lent and especially on Good Friday.  I remembered it was like that in my home as a child, though I had largely dropped the observance.  She added that when she was a girl, you could get out of not eating meat by paying an indulgence.  Yes, of the kind that Martin Luther compalined about centuries ago.  The Church still could teach that even sinlessness had a price.

       Outside the television reporters gave the latest news on the procession and then departed before the arrival of the image itself, which was kind of odd.  But I guess they didn’t have time to wait around.

      A little after 9:30, the gates of the basilica opened.   The float with a statue of Mary standing on top of it, slid out and waited as the first nazarenos and priests appeared.  Then came a handful of women dressed in black mourning wear and mantillas.  Most of the other processioners turned off before and entered the church from the side gate.  The drummers announced the nearing of the float with Jesus.  Soon you could see it, draped in an emperor purple robe, golden crown of thorns and dark face.  It leaned forward characteristically.  Characteristic of what I am not sure.  But it is.   The two floats met, the band played the national anthem, and then the one carrying Mary was drawn back inside before the other one followed it.  The float with the Christ of Medinaceli was very large, which must explain why it was maneuvered by a mechanical cart beneath instead of the bearers.  It was the only time I saw this set up.

      A few minutes later, the image of Jesus was gently pushed inside and the doors closed behind it.  The procession had rather subtly come to an end.

      And Good Friday too.

Holy Week in Madrid 8

What is so good about Good Friday?  It certainly is a valid question.  Assuming that this isn’t the consequence of a positive-thinking monk ahead of his time, chances are its origins lie elsewhere, though no one seems to know for sure.  You would think they would, but sometimes that happens.  The exact source of what is probably the most commonly used world in the world “O.K.” (and all its variations) is unknown, and this word has been with us for less than 200 years.  As for Good Friday, the theories have been mainly narrowed down to two: it either has to do with an earlier connotation of the word “good”, which meant “holy”, or is a mutation from “God’s Friday”.  I am inclined to believe the former, but who am I really to say?

        In any event, around the world Good Friday is considered the most solemn and serious day of the Christian calendar.  Even the stock market takes the day off.  InSpain, after two nights of ongoing processions commemorating the final hours of Christ, things roll on.  In fact, inMadrid, this the day when the most parades will depart from their churches.  The problem is, most start basically at the same time, so I had to do a little picking an choosing.  I decided on two: the silent procession leaving the Santisimo Cristo de la Fe in Calle Atocha, and the other was the Jesús de Medinaceli, quite possibly the most sacred image of the city.

        But they wouldn’t be until the evening, so first I went over to Jorge and Susana’s house where we had a typical Good Friday lunch: baked cod.  Actually we had two types.  One was made by his mother.  She had bought the salted cod from the classic store “Casa del Bacalao” inGoya   Street.  Salting food is a very old preserving technique, and cod has been prepared this way for centuries.  To keep from suffering from a heart attack, the fish needs to be desalinated.  To do this, you soak it in water, drain it, and then soak it again.  This process can be repeated for up to two days.  The fish retains its salty flavor, but it is not overbearing, and it is also surprisingly juicy.  She topped it with homemade tomato paste from her garden in theprovinceofCuenca.  Jorge made his own version, fresh cod this time, with olive oil, garlic and almonds.  The meal was unforgettable.  For dessert, we munched on some torrijas, the classic Easter sweet snack.   Basically it is a kind of elaborate French toast.  To accompany everything, a Chardonnay fromCataloniaand an Albariño fromGalicia.  Then it was….siesta time.

        Then came time for the processions.  The weather was unstable but somewhat more promising, though it had rained around midday.  It snowed and hailed too.  I know this because I was outside walking in the streets when this occurred.  In fact, the storm reached its height of fury when I was traversing an open area with no shelter.  I arrived at Jorge’s house with my hair whiter than ever and a few dents in my skull to boot.

      By the evening, I sensed we would not have the same problem as the day before, so things should go more or less according to schedule.  But I also learned that even in the best of conditions, processions are very slow to get starting, so I didn’t leave home until the same time it was supposed to start.  I crossed the RetiroParkand walked up the Retiro Streetto catch the Silent Procession.  It was backed up at the entrance, so I flanked the crowd and stopped at the small plazaof Antón Martín, where there was plenty of space to get a front-row view.  Two pasos passed by, one of Jesus on the cross and another of the weeping Mary.

       The silent procession grabbed my attention for a couple of reasons.  One was that the float of the Virgin Mary was carried by 32 women.  It was the first time I had seen an all-female team of bearers.  Very impressive.  The second was that the silent procession was anything but silent.  With two marching brass bands trailing each paso, at times, it was excruciatingly painful.  The whole beauty of the silent procession is its very noiselessness.  At most the processioners progress to the beat of fateful drumming.  From what I could tell, there was no difference from the others I had seen the previous days.  Disappointment factor in that sense was high.

      Jorge and Susana and their children and his mother arrived a few minutes later.  We decided to walk down Medinaceli to see how that would finish up there.

Holy Week in Madrid 7

As the Christ figure waddled away down the street, I thought about going over to see the one that had left the Colegiata deSan Isidro, a church which for years had beenMadrid’s de facto cathedral. San Isidrois the city’s patron saint.  But there was no way of getting over there.  The sidewalks in the center of town can be very narrow and they clog up easily.  You can go for a hundred yards and suddenly find yourself in a bottleneck.  And then what do you do?

        I had changed my mission and was trying to meet up with my friends Jorge and Susana and their two children.  To do this, I had to change my route and loop around the confusing network of back streets of the old town.  There were people everywhere, some were a part of the usual evening crowd, but many were Spaniards trying to catch a glimpse of at least part of the events.

        I shoved my way through the multitudes until I reached center of the Plaza Mayor where a statue of King Felipe III serves as a perfect meeting point.  We made our plans from there.

        Before going on to the processions, it was decided that some hot chocolate was in order for the kids, so we walked down to the Chocolatería San Ginés, the city’s most famous hot chocolate café.  A huge line flowed out the door.  This was not surprising at all.  San Ginés was teeming with customers all the time, what could we expect on that evening?  This dissuaded us from going in…or even waiting.

       We went down past the old outdoor bookstore at the corner of Arenal and turned left and into the church San Ginés, one of the most famous and oldest in Madrid.  Of the original mudejar structure, basically only the brick bell tower survives.  It was rebuilt in the 17th Century and renovated in the 18th Century, which explains its predominately neo-classic appearance within.

        Scores of people were going in and we wanted to see what was up there.  It turns out they were all paying homage to the Christ of the Redemption, which is located in a mysterious chapel to the right as soon as you enter.  Long red candles rise from the altar, giving it an almost spooky feel to it.  The kids were pretty freaked out by the experience.

         We went back to the chocolate place.  The line was shorter but not much.  Still, Susana decided to stay there with her kids as it was the highlight of the evening for them.  Jorge and I roamed around the center a little longer but realized it was nearly impossible to get any closer to the processions.  They had cut the route short due to the inclement weather and the streets were jammed below the Plaza Mayor.  So we returned, but not before stopping in the Convent of the Carboneras del Corpus Cristi, which has a small temple with a famous depiction of the Last Supper.  But the most striking feature was the iron grid separating where we were from another room where several cloistered nuns sat and prayed.  And by cloistered, I mean they basically never leave.  To say this was a throw back to another time in history is no exaggeration.  It was dark and gloomy inside and the sight was one of both impression and depression.  I didn’t now what to think.  But I felt we were intruding, so we left.

        Then we went back to the San Ginés café.  On the way, Jorge and I mentioned all the church buildings in the center ofMadridwe had not been to, but all the bars and restaurants we had.  There was a marked difference.  We walked by the San Miguel market which has turned into one of the hottest tapas spots in the city.  It was packed too.

         We joined the others at San Ginés.  They had found one of the characteristic marble tables and the two children were happily dipping their churros, the fried dough sticks, into the dark and thick chocolate.  This legendary food venue has been treating people to this delicious combination since the 1890s.  And I thought to myself “They’ve got the perfect business.”  They basically serve just two items: Hot chocolate and churros.  And they make millions.

        The rain and the mob scene had dampened the procession mood.  The churros made up for the letdown.

Holy Week in Madrid 6

The evening of Holy Thursday is sometimes referred to the “Noche de Procesiones”, or the “Night of Processions”, which should give you an idea of its importance in the Holy Week calendar.  According to the gospels, on this night Jesus celebrates his Last Supper, is apprehended in the Garden of Gethsemane, and is taken away for trial.   So, some of the most solemn and mournful parades take place.  This fits perfectly with the angle that most appeals to the Spanish: the tragedy of the passion.

        All over the country the streets fill with serpentine processions that go into the late hours of the night and even until dawn.  InMadrid, there were three on the agenda, and of those three, there was one which particularly interested me, the Procession of the Poor Jesus which departed from one of the oldest churches in the city, San Pedro (St. Peter’s).  The biggest attraction here was getting the float of the image of Jesus out of the church.  Because of the low-lying door, the bearers have to literally get on their knees and crawl out for about ten feet before standing again.  It is one of the highlights of the Madrid Semana Santa, there aren’t many, and I didn’t want to miss it.

        The only thing that seemed was going to prevent me was the weather.  At 4:30pm, it was sunny and looking to get sunnier, but an hour later the first drops of rain started dropping.  Much of the sky was dark, but the edges were clearer, so I was hoping the storm would blow over.  It did.  In our direction.

        By about 6:00 the downtown ofMadridwas witness to a terrific downpour.  I didn’t have an umbrella with me.  I have one, I just don’t know where it is.  So I ducked into a building doorway and thought about my next move.  A friend of mine, who lived nearby, invited me over for a beer while I waited for things to happen.  She is about as anti-clerical as you can get, but that didn’t keep her from being neighborly as she provided me with a little shelter.  We had a couple of beers and she told me about her plans for the future. It was like talking to Karl Marx before going to church.

        When the rain tapered off, we moseyed down to the square where a sizable crowd had gathered around the church entrance.  It was 7:15 and the main gates hadn’t even been opened.  The skies were being indecisive, but the crowd kept its faith.  My friend had to go to work, so I stayed on and about forty-five minutes later, the first signs of a procession appeared.  Rows and rows of processioners emerged from the church with their tall royal purple KKK hoods on.

        Then there was a rather long pause before the float began to stick out.  I really can’t understand how these things take so long to get going.  They’ve had all day to get prepared.  The crowd became restless but eventually the long poles of the float edged out.  Once, it came time for the statue of Jesus to come out, the bearers lowered their bodies and inched forward until it was safe to stand again.  It all happened more quickly than I expected, but it was impressive all the same.  Once back on their feet, there was a large round of applause.  The bearers advanced slowly and jiggled the float as they swayed it from side to side.  This is what the Spanish call “dancing” the float.


Holy Week in Madrid 5

If you are a tourist and are in Madridfor the first time, you may find it slightly jarring that Holy Thursday and Good Friday are holidays in the city.  It’s like that for much of the country, but not all.  The Basque Country, Catalonia, Valencia (and I believe the Balearic Islands – Mallorca and Ibiza, etc.) do not observe Holy Thursday as a bank holiday but do close down for Good Friday as well as Easter Monday, which is not the case in Madrid, unless you work at a school.  Commerical Madrid taes Thursday and Friday off, but not Monday.  Do you follow?

        And even so, the closed element of it all is relative, since many restaurants and bars stay open to reap in some business while the residents look for something to do.  That’s a remarkable change from even twenty years ago, when most of the city would shut down completely.  And if you go back to the Franco times, it was even more extreme.  One of the most cited examples of how repressive the regime could get was that during Semana Santa, you couldn’t even go to the movies.  This lamentation has been expressed to me by numerous people over the past two decades, so the despair seemed to be widespread.  That and the fact men had to cross the French border to buy girlie magazines.

        Now, when I think of hardcore dictatorships, other more shocking images and acts come to mind than having to stay at home and read a book.  Careful, I am not belittling the cruelty of the fascist rule here, which could be harsh and unforgiving, but it does fascinate me that these sorts of details, like being deprived of an evening at the cinema, are seen as such restrictive measures.  What about free speech and the right to vote?

        Oh, well.  Things have come a long way since then, and night life appeared to be hardly dented by the religious motive behind the long weekend, and that is because there are two Semana Santas: one is the spiritual period remembering the final days of Christ, and the other is a kind of kick-off to the coming summer months of revelry.  It’s vacation time.

        This was evident right after the first procession when me and two friends who were recent fathers for the third time respectively, went for a couple of beers at the nearby pub called La Fontana de Oro.  La Fontana was a classic turn-of-the-century café known for its enviable intellectual atmosphere.  Often tight-knit groups of men, mostly men, would get together and discuss the latest of anything…politics, religion, science, art.   These talks were known as tertulias.  They still are.  Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Hotel circle would be an American example of that.

        La Fontana resuscitated in the 1990s when it recovered its Golden Age feel to it while adding an Irish pub touch.  In fact, it was a hybrid and even prototype of the Irish pub that would invade the city not long afterward.  And it’s been going strong ever since…both bar and movement.

        But La Fontana hasn’t stopped evolving.  I was a little taken aback by the two huge and intimidating doormen limiting access, and the music inside was the kind you listen to in Ibizan August.  Some Spaniards but mostly foreigners, and ages of the clientele ranged from about 18 to…19.

        We felt a little out of place, needless to say.

        Downstairs, things were a little quieter,  but only in relative way, like being in a room that tests hammer durability.  I sat in a booth with my back to a big-screen TV the size of my living room beneath the deep and throbbing bass beat pumping in the floor above.  Not a single intellectual thought came to mind.

Holy Week in Madrid 4

The first major procession took place last night in the heart of Madrid, in a street called Calle del Carmen which starts at the Puerta del Sol and runs up to Callao.

        The procession is known as “Los Gitanos” (The Gypsies) and leaves from the Church of El Carmen.  When I arrived at 9:00p.m., a half hour before it was supposed to start, there was talk that it might even be cancelled altogether due to the rain.  It had stopped raining a couple of hours before, but the threat was ever-present.  Finally around 9:45 things got going.  Processions can be tortuously slow in getting moving, but the reason becomes evident once you see the floats emerging from the churches.  It is painstakingly process.  The floats are known as “Pasos”, and unlike in the States where they are motorized, these scenes or images of the final days of Christ are carried by manpower.  And they are very, very heavy.

        Each paso is cared for by a fraternity known as a cofradías or hermandad.  Its members are the ones in charge of toting the massive float around the town.  Forming a part of the team is not a punishment but rather a great honor, often passed down from one generation to the next.  Members immediately sign their newborns up so that they will have a chance to participate years later.  Kind of like reserving season’s tickets to Packers’ games, or opening a college tuition account.

        There is more than just the floats.  Here’s a quick look at the line-up last night:

  1. The initial hooded penitents (often hooded and known as nazarenos).  They are lead by a man holding a cross which guides the procession.

2.  One big float.  This was a beautifully hand-crafted wooden base with curly wooden candle holders and upon which was a large image of Christ bearing the cross.  The float was about the size of a Hummer and seemed to weigh as much too.  The bearers were supporting the weight from inside to give it a true floating appearance.    Here’s a three second video.  MOV_0110

3.   A band dressed in traditional military uniform.









4.   A group of penitents with droopy hoods.  They dragged their own crosses.  Some went barefoot, which is a bold, if not foolish, thing to do in the middle of Madrid.


5.   Another group of penitents from a second fraternity.  These guys look a little creepier.










6.  A second “paso” or float of the Virgin Mary.  This one was all white, seemed a little shorter but was much taller as a four-posted canopy covered the imaged.  The bearers were also beneath and hidden from view by a draping curtain, so to speak.













7.   A second band to give support to the second team of carriers. (No pictures thank God.  I don’t think I’ll be doing this again. It took me an hour to set up.)

        All of Spain’s most emblematic elements could be found: priests, the guardia civil, the national anthem.  More than a spiritual event, it seemed like a gathering of all that tradition Spain held sacred.

       The scheduled route was to weave through much of the old town, but the actual path was far shorter.  The processioners slowly paraded down to the Puerta del Sol, turned around and headed up the Calle Preciados, which is parallel to the Calle del Carmen, and then turned back towards the church.  In real time, this walk could be completed in ten minutes max.  After frequent breaks to relieve the backs and shoulders of the bearers, the process took well over two hours from beginning to end.  I can’t imagine their trying to do the whole route.  Maybe the threat of rain was a factor.

Holy Week in Madrid 3

While back in the States, Catholics are begging for crucifixion in Nazi-style chant (please read the former post for a little context), here things look pretty gloomy too.

      Any good Semana Santa requires a solid dose of rainfall.  It kind of goes with the territory.  Every year, the television cameras send images to the universe of sour-faced onlookers and frustrated processioners as they hope for a change in the weather.  It rarely occurs.  So common is the dampness that I can’t really understand why everyone is so surprised.

       This year is no exception.  The atmosphere has withheld any precipitation for the past six months in anticipation of this week and, God bless it, it has come through in the clutch.  I feel this is all right as long as it doesn’t start pouring during this evening’s event.  It’s my first real procession here inMadridand I don’t want it to get washed out.  The thing is, it is.  And it won’t stop.

       I am eyeing the national weather service’s prediction and they keep saying there will be a intervals of sun throughout the afternoon and evening, But I’ve got to tell you, I keep thinking that these guys don’t stick their heads out the window enough.

       Tonight’s showcase, by the way, starts at the Church of the Virgin of Carmen andSt. Louis, in the Calle Carmen, right in the very heart of Madrid.

Holy Week in Madrid 2

One thing that makes Holy Week different from other moments in the Christian calendar is that the dates change from year to year.  After all, if can all agree on a day for when he was born, even though it was probably spring, why can’t they get the day he was crucified on right?  Well, believe it or not, it has to do with the phases of the moon.  Holy Week always falls on the week of the first full moon after the vernal equinox, or first day of spring, i.e. March 21st (though it is more often the 20th).   Established back in 325AD this tradition goes back even further to the Jewish holiday of Passover.

        Holy Week began last Sunday, known as Palm Sunday, which was a big moment in my church-going days as a child because we were all given a strip of palm leaf.  This was certainly good training to help me appreciate the smaller things in life.  Palm Sunday was also marred by the fact the Passion was read in church, which meant tacking on another twenty minutes to a service I already considered excessive in length and subject matter.  The passion was a review of the final days of Christ, told as a story, and the highlight came when we as a congregation would be allowed to actively participate.  The priest gave us the dubious honor of playing the crowd which had to choose between Barabbas and Jesus, so when Pilate would ask us what to do with Christ, we would all cry out in unison: “Crucify him!  Crucify him!”

        Now isn’t that a nice thing to do in church?  Oh, well, Palm Sunday kicks off the week, but things don’t really get going until Wednesday, as…as…death nears.

Holy Week in Madrid 1

So, when I am not trying to figure out why the stock market goes down when the Fed says that things are going well enough to pass over another stimulus plan; when I am not trying to get rid of the taste of the moldy bread I bit into this afternoon; I think about what I am going to do the rest of the week and it looks like I’ll be watching dozens of men with pointed hoods as they parade through the streets of Madrid.

       Yeap, you guessed it.  It’s Holy Week, and the only season and place where dressing up like a person who enjoys lynching on weekends is both respected and even revered.  This is the time for the great Holy Week religious processions, world famous in many cities in Andalucía and even up north in Castilla y León.  Heck, all over the place. Madridis little known for its procession but there are actually twelve of them scheduled for the next four days, so the streets of the old town should be pretty congested with lookalikes of a medieval executioners’ convention looking gloomy over the next couple of days.

        Many of these solemn events are enjoying a comeback in popularity and since I have never been in Madrid at this time of year, except for when I was about twenty and had nowhere else to go, I figure this is just about as good a time as any to see what’s up.

      Maybe a little rest would do first.