Say what you think
Love who you love
‘Cause you just get
So many trips ’round the sun
Yeah, you only
Only live once
“Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves
It’s becoming a bit challenging to maintain a daily report of this Salamancan summer. Perhaps it was folly to think I’d be able to maintain a daily record. Most of my fellow students have tripped the light fantastic into the early dawn most nights from the moment we’ve arrived. I’ve opted to play the part of Christian in “Moulin Rouge,” hunkered down in my garret, waiting for that moment of divine inspiration to become “that writer.” I’m not necessarily waiting to fall in love as much as I’m wanting to fall in love with an idea worth writing about.
I’ve been diligently recording this series of little epiphanies as if channeling a dime store Proust. (“In search of lost time” anyone?) When the weekend approached, I’d been quite entertained by the lost time represented by group’s noches de ronda. So it was time to add some color of my own. Besides, as I look back at this first week of scribbling, I couldn’t help but think: “Lighten the fuck up, Jor.” As to not overwhelm the casual reader, here is the weekend’s Confession in two parts.
La crónica rosa, primer capitulo
I’ve been avoiding all of my tried and true Internet haunts of late. It all seems like such a waste of time given the amount of history and culture that is Salamanca and Spain, in general. I mean, really, a great white shark attack in Manhattan Beach makes the front page of CNN? Come on! Perhaps that is why I’ve taken such an interest in reporting the “Real Houselives of the Students at the Pontificia.” Who needs artificial scandal when real, unfiltered life is sooo much better!
Believe it or not, a term exists in Spanish for this type of reportage, La crónica rosa. (Gracias, Enrique P. Sen!) Translated as the Rose Colored Chronicle, it is really designed to function as a less yellow version of the gossip pages that feature Madrid society’s finest and other people of varying degrees of celebrity. Case in point, one unlucky student in her early 20s from New York was shocked to discover that the young man with whom she enjoyed a weekend frisson opted to post pictures of her in flagrante delicto all over Instagram. Thanks to the barrage of douchey hashtags as an added bonus, the girl (and most of the school) discovered her Don Juan is really Don Juanito. He’s just 17. #legend, he bragged.
You get the “picture?”
So, today’s entry is probably a less refined version of Walter Winchell and/or Rona Barrett with a dash of Armistead Maupin thrown in for good measure. You’ve been warned.
Picture it. Salamanca, 2014. How do you spend your first weekend during a summer school session abroad? You do what every student does. You go to Segovia in the morning and take a high speed train to Madrid in the afternoon to take part in its legendary Gay Pride celebration. Kind of gives a new meaning to the term “Orgullo” altogether. But it was an action-packed day that is probably going to go down as #legend, too. Plenty of frisson, yes. But hold the InstaShame, por fa’.
I was glad to get out into Spain a bit more. At first, the day trip to Segovia was something out of a backlot experience as directed by Ridley Scott. I don’t want to diminish that historical beauty of this city at all. Its famed Alcazar castle is documented as being the source of inspiration for the artists responsible in creating the world of Walt Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty.” Yet, while walking these well conserved cobblestone streets you were transported deeper into its often conflicted past with each step. It is also a testament to an odd reconciliation, too.
You will see remnants of religious persecution and intolerance in La juderia, yet it’s juxtaposed with the city’s iconic acuaducto. It is hard to process how both stand as symbols so extreme. One personifies human innovation and ingenuity. Imagine a freestanding structure so epic, its stacked construction defies gravity as it does not feature elements to hold it together. Yet it does reinforce the sad duality of the human experience. We are such masters of creation here on earth, only to be the biggest purveyor of its destruction with the same hands.
Our tour guide, Elena, was terrific, taking time to illustrate the human scope of this colonial hamlet. Like San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, the historic preservation of the area is given some priority. Unlike San Miguel de Allende, Burger King and the shopping mall built around the acuaducto reveal a more consumer-driven agenda in the site’s preservation.
Still, Segovia “ilumina el cielo” or “Segovia Illuminates the Sky.” And that’s not hyperbole when you add the stately Alcazar to the mix.
Here’s a down and dirty metaphor to explain just how impressive Alcazar is to view. After you’ve had nothing but margarine or decaf, when you get to taste butter or Italian roast, you don’t want the fake shit again. In other words, forget the Magic Kingdom or the Excalibur in Las Vegas. Such bastardized examples of the Alcazar are unworthy of sharing the same sentence. Of course, walking these fabled grounds could not rob focus from its rather peculiar royal history that seems doomed to be repeated for eternity.
“Juana la loca era enferma de amor”
During our tour of Alcazar, Elena kept referring to “Juana la loca.” I had to ask, “Who is Juana and why was she crazy?” Suffice it to say, Juana was married to a prince who was less than charming and kept cheating on her, despite giving him five children. What drove her crazy was not so much the possible epilepsy that may be responsible for the moniker bestowed upon her by the court. No, for some historians, she was driven to illness by the intense mad love she had for her roving husband. It seemed a fitting discovery to me since the situation involving Spain’s royal family this year also featured a wandering royal who was forced to abdicate his throne. More on that later because here comes Madrid and Orgullo 2014 in Part 2 of Segovia to Madrid, now online.
Saturday, July 5 @ Hotel Indigo, Madrid, Spain.