Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Bad news is, Madrid is losing its gilt to me pretty fast. Over the past couple of days, when my friends in Brazil asked me if I was enjoyin the city, I replied, ‘sometimes’. It pierces my heart across when I do that, because I really wanted to say, ‘dude, it’s fabulous, and you gotta come visit me’. But how can I invite my Casa das Rosas gang to visit a place where ppl do nothing but drinking and smoking in a boring bar without even music playing?

I know I’m probably comparing Madrid to São Paulo, my personal Paradise Lost, and I’m very aware that this is unfair, if that’s the case. But really, I cannot help the feeling of loss and regret when, unless it’s a huge once-a-year international event like Europride or the city’s annual festival like San Isidro, there is absolutely NOTHING to do here in Madrid other than getting drunk.

Last Sunday, I went to a street market Beefeater (the Gin brand) organized here in Las Vistillas. Christened ‘Londonize’, it was supposed to feature vendors who participate in London’s street markets, and the typical stuff that’s sold there. I arrived at six p.m., it was closed already; and I could’ve coped up with that, but on the way to there I saw what seemed to be the whole of Madrilean youth sitting on the floor of the surrounding squares, with beer cans in hand, laughing like mad, and with faces clearly blushed. Alcohol is not the problem. It’s that other than beer, there was nothing else for them to do in this country’s capital city.

Summer’s here. I’m very aware that in the northern hemisphere this is the season for parties, and except for Europride, which very fortunately this year is in Madrid, all other interesting things to do (all away from town) are in the same fucking weekend. My lifetime dream, the Celtic music Festival de Ortigueira, as well as the San Fermín bull run in Pamplona, and the European version of Burning Man, Nowhere Festival, are all in the first weekend in July. Tell me, am I paranoid, or are people organizing these events just to make me feel horrible even when I pick one of them to attend??

Hardly. In São Paulo, actually I faced many tough choices every weekend. All year long, I mean, and I was perfectly fine with that, because I knew the following weekend I’d have many great stuff to do again. Ok, I admit, when I decided to leave Sampa behind, I really should have, but every honest human being gifted with a dash of compassion will understand comparisons are natural and irresistible at some point.

I’m currently concentrating on the fact that Europride (June 30th) is my chance to begin enjoying Madrid. I know it won’t be São Paulo, which is the world’s largest Pride parade, but maybe people WALKING downtown for a change (drunk or sober doesn’t matter) will make me feel a bit more proud of my new home.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Red is, most definetely, the colour

“There are lots of ways to celebrate, and most of them are a terrible idea. Flying with that blonde to Paris can max out your credit card and your credibility. The new BMW will need to be washed more often than your old beater. The magnum of champagne will go to your head and your pocket. You might want to try red socks.” (CAMERON, Julia. Supplies. Tarcher-Putnam, 2003. Page 153)

Or brand new red specs. Or red anywhere else, I suspect, because Red is certainly a colour with magical, transformational and liberating properties. It just cannot be a coincidence that the distinguishing feature of the clown is a bright red sphere on the most proeminent bit of the face, the most exposed part of the body. And the clown is the freer of men, capable of healing ailments physicians and counsellors have no clue of, so they just do the talking.

Red is also:

The primary colour of wild berries, food that cannot be domesticated however tender and succulent. The first colour the young human eye is able to see, even before being able to name it. White may be great for the first step in aesthetic emancipation, but nothing takes you as far as the good ol’ colour of the Welsh Dragon.

And as my guru concludes the chapter dedicated to the wearing of this magical colour in her gem of a book, ‘Supplies’, “It’s hard to be depressed, alienated, and serious in a pair of snappy red socks. It’s hard to be self-important and cranky. God probably wears red socks.”

Wearing red, I bet, brings your closer to God. Wear Red and you can do no wrong.

Together with this blog entry, I wish to dedicate the tune ‘Fool’s Gold’ by Blackmore’s Night to the Fool in us all. Just because he probably wears Red, too!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Today I fell easy prey to an Otherworld trap, just like Thomas the Rhymer, Janet of Catterhaugh and Ulysses before me.

The day was hot and I was downtown Madrid figuring out places to hang posters offering English and Portuguese language lessons, when I decided to stop by Templo de Debod, an Ancient Egyptian wonder reconstructed with original stuff in the center of an European capital. After one month, I was finally able to sort out the opening hours for visitation, and even though Jose told me there was nothing inside the walls of the temple, the opportunity to dive into the hollow silence that twenty-two centuries old sandstone blocks can produce (in-between the hordes of French or Japanese tourists, of course), and the fact that unlike anything else in Madrid it was free, I decided I’d take the walk to the western fringe and tell my Fetch again that I am indeed in the Old World, in his own language.

Templo de Debod is a thousand times better than anywhere else I’ve paid to get in here. The feel created by sandstone block walls, the feeble light indoors and the extremely informational projectors, interactive guides and folders (all for free!) plugged off some part of me tightly connected to stuff that I honestly shouldn’t care about.

I fantasised on the songs Loreena McKennitt could write after visiting a place like this. I have no idea how long I was frozen and enraptured by the 18th century Lower Nubia maquette, where the temple was originally situated. It’s definetely something to put on your to-see-before-I-die list, and I could spend the rest of my life there, looking at it, living in that world.

As a true Piscean, I say that the reconciliation of the painful discovery after leaving the Otherworld is to remain there. But alas, I was nudged by the security agent at eight p.m., telling me they were about to close the temple for the day.

Try a virtual visit:

Image: Temple of Debod sketched by English artist David Roberts in the late nineteenth century, before the temple suffered terrible decadence by heavy stone mining in the area.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

My one-month muse

Today it is exactly one month since I landed here in Madrid to start this new phase of my life, and to celebrate the occasion, as well finally having Internet at home after three years of public cafés, I gifted myself with my role model’s new album, ‘An Ancient Muse’. As usual, Loreena McKennitt, the bard of Wanderlust, sets off to the possible outter reaches in the wildest, unofficial domains of these wild rovers of yore, the Celts. This time, after living for months with a family of nomad cattle breeders in Mongolia, a northern asian country where redhaired mummies thought to be predecessors of the Celts were found, she marvels, journals and sings about homecoming, pilgrimage, promised lands and the dust of the road.

As is the nature of open hearts, stories and History are gently parallelled with current affairs and circumstances. Loreena muses on her travel logs about how the ageless dramas and the grave pain created by the fight for the land and its gifts of various natures appear in our contemporary times, and I gain understanding on my personal moment.

One month in a foreign city is not long, but it is certainly enough to having learnt that I am not one of the locals, for instance. There is literally an ocean of differences between us. So far, I didn’t have money, time or courage to travel all around this country of many faces, but I managed to visit well-off small towns (a contradiction in my native country), ran my naked hands on extremely coarse ninth-century walls made of solid stone blocks and blackened iron, saw actual windmills that produce electric energy and mill grains, discovered a place where it’s okay to be gay and to be out, but not vegetarian. Not what I had been used to: sitting behind a computer screen and ranting over it. (I’ve come to discover and confirm that the Ivory Tower is not for me)

After her many miles, Loreena concludes that “harmonious, integrated diversity” is a gift that the road offers. After my past month, I coulnd’t agree more.

Photo: Self portrait, in the Madrilean Jardín Botánico, earlier this month.