Thursday, October 13, 2005

Día de la Hispanidad/Columbus Day/Indigenous People's Day

So, I've still got no wireless at home, and yesterday was Hispanidad (erm, hispanism) Day, which is, roughly, Columbus Day, which is celebrated, roughly as an Armed Forces Day. This is a country with a large statue of Christopher Columbus in , I believe, every major city. (For all I know, there's a statue of Columbus in every village, too, but I haven't checked. The last time I was here, my cousin Paulo pointed out to me that there's a street named Dr. Fleming, after the discoverer of penicillin, in every town. After he pointed this out, I noticed it everywhere. Apparently, before penicillin, bullfighters would die of infections in their various lacerations.) Anyhow, this is definitely not Berkeley, or Sebastopol, where instead of Columbus Day there is Indigenous People's Day. In Berkeley, the tangible effect of the presence of Indigenous People's Day is that parking meters list it, rather than Columbus Day, as a meter holiday.

Anyhow, so yesterday things were closed. And there was a parade of the various branches of the armed forces down the Paseo de la Castellana. I missed the parade, getting there in time to see a few tanks just hanging out on the street, with children climbing on top of them, and soldiers posing with kids. According to friends who caught the parade on television, there were no floats or anything; there were just many, many armed forces marching, swinging their right arms in unison. I would have liked to have seen the arm-swinging-in-unison thing, I suppose. Also, I am told, there were goats in costumes. I'm not sorry that I slept in, though.

The coolest part of going at all, being as I missed the parade anyway, was that there were no cars on the Paseo de la Castellana. For those of you who don't speak Spanish, a paseo is a walk (although stroll captures the connotations better, I think.) There are many streets in Madrid named "stroll of the something-or-other." Pretty much without exception, these streets are the equivalent of in-town superhighways. The Paseo de la Castellana has a total of, I think, twelve lanes of traffic. Needless to say, it is not the most pleasant setting for a stroll, although I do walk along it every day to get to the National Library; there's a nicely landscaped median strip with trees, terrace cafés, and whatnot, but getting to the strip is particularly stressful/unpleasant.

After the (after-)parade, I headed over to the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando and looked at some paintings; I really liked Goya's "Burial of the Sardine." (um, that's a rough translation. I think.) This painting is great! It's like a Bosch meets an Ensor, as done by Goya.

Then it was over to the Palacio Real to meet up with some friends, but that was closed for an official function (celebrating hispanism?), so we went to the Catedral de la Almudena, the Madrid cathedral, across the plaza, where there was an exhibit of , of all things, religious art. The cathedral itself is pretty new. Here's a page about it, translated by Google, to comic effect.

And now I am back in the library.


Blogger Zora said...

In Indiana, they changed the name of Columbus Day to Discovery Day. Which is so missing the point of PC-ness. Almost like they did it on purpose to be jerks.

4:20 PM  
Blogger pvf said...

In Berkeley there was a petition to rename Columbus Day Genocide Day.

6:32 PM  

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