Hidden in Plain Sight

The morning’s news contained this tidbit: our innocuous little health zone, still in pretend-confinement, now has the highest number of daily Covid cases in Madrid. This is unsurprising, given that our confinement is, after all, pretend. Plus, the neighborhood is full of students, that least Covid limitation-compliant of demographics. If the students who moved in downstairs are any indication, the parties have just moved home from the bars, and they start earlier now, so people can get home before curfew starts at midnight. And of course it’s not a Spanish party without singing. We’d find this charming, except that sometimes the singing goes on until 5 a.m., which means, I guess, that they’ve just decided to keep the party going until 6, when curfew ends.

To put all this in perspective, though, our number of cases is less than half the number of daily cases in Lorain County, OH, and about the same as in Athens, GA.

Meanwhile, the national government proposed Christmas guidelines yesterday: no gatherings of more than six people, a curfew on Christmas Eve of 1a.m. Madrid immediately countered that it thinks people should be allowed to meet in groups of 10; the curfew should be 1:30 a.m. rather than 1 a.m. That the game of political hair-splitting continues is as unsurprising as our case numbers.

But in the face of all this, Madrid, like The Dude, abides. The Christmas lights will be turned on on Friday; December 7-8 are holidays (though we won’t be allowed to leave Madrid. We can still take walks.

So walk I do. Since the spring lockdown I’ve walked all the spring out of my tennis shoes.

Madrid is full of quirks. One’s the fact that the bottoms of balconies of buildings of a certain age are often faced with beautifully-patterned tiles, a glimpse you can only catch if you crane your neck back and look up — not where you’re going.

This morning I stopped to do just that.