Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Eternal Return

You can tell that vacation is over, of course. There's the nightly reports on the numbers killed in traffic accidents during "Operacion Retorno," for one, and the shopowners furiously scrubbing their awnings after the accumulations of a month without window washings or sidewalk bleachings. The train I took back to Madrid at the start of this week was packed with people and their suitcases--all filled with those peculiar outfits that Spaniards wear only while on vacation.

Still, I hadn't expected quite the welcome I received when I climbed into a cab at the train station late Monday night. "You're back!," the driver exclaimed, as if he had missed me. And then again as we pulled up to Gran Via: "You're back in Madrid," he said, sweeping his arm as if he were pulling back a curtain on the lights and buildings. And finally, as we pulled into the bustling Plaza Santa Ana, filled with people chatting and drinking and eating outdoors, "You see what you've been missing? That's good ambience."

I had to agree.

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