Monday, March 24, 2008

The rain in Spain does not stay mainly in the plain. It hits the mountains and the coast, too. At least it does in Marbella, Spain's answer to the posher parts of Miami Beach. Of course, there was sunshine there as well, and the husband and I each managed to turn our own particular shades of pink.

I hadn't been back to Spain for eight years or so. But it's the same - the arguing, the promenading, the little coffees cut with milk, the cured hams, the tile floors, the tiny bird-like old ladies in sweater sets and knee-length wool skirts and sensible shoes with low heels (who have replaced their mothers, long-dead, who wore heavy black widows' weeds), the strange love of creepy public ceremonies, from the painfully slow Holy Week parading of saints by men disguised in peaked black hats to homo-eroto-quasi-fascisto-pseudo-military displays of other men shouting weird orders at each other as they march 20 meters, back and forth, on a small stretch of street with hundreds watching.

Spain has such a peculiar pulse, fluttering and sluggish at the same time. Odd, that. If Spain were a person, she would be one of those types who rushes around the apartment madly cleaning, only to fall exhausted on the couch before jumping up to clean some more.

It was only four days - we were celebrating the 60th birthday of the mother of A. the TV producer. But it seemed much longer and so far away. Especially when we got back to the coldest weather of the year in Stockholm, and snow.

The Swedish phrase for the day is röda dagar. It literally means red days, which are how holidays are marked on Swedish calendars, and has become the commonly used expression for public holidays. Of which there are two for Easter: Good Friday and the Monday following Easter - and in many cases, an extra half a day before as well, since offices tend to let people out early on days before a holiday.

- by Francis S.

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