My apologies for missing my latest self-imposed Friday deadline for an update on Spain. Things were just too chaotic last week, in our personal lives more than in Spain. For starters, Saturday Dec. 15 we rushed to Madrid in disorderly fashion (the refrigerator door fell off while we were cleaning our apartment, my external hard-drive went into infinite spin when I tried to back up my laptop, the train we were scheduled to take from Almería to Madrid had been canceled due to a track defect), so I got here without my laptop. Then, the apartment we had planned to move into wasn't really completed so we had to stay in a hotel with limited Internet access. The Madrid apartment is really tiny but very well located, right next to the Reina Sofía museum and very near the Atocha train station; it will be our urban pied-a-terre, while the main house (still not finished) will be in Carboneras. We're moved into the apartment now, and expect the final work to be completed today, and just this morning we discovered this wonderful Madrid institution, a cultural center with exhibitions and other activities and rooms where anyone can use computers or sit and study, absolutely free. It's called La Casa Encendida, an obra social of the savings bank Caja Madrid. "Obra social" -- there must be a common expression like that in English. Here it means an activity for community benefit. In Spain, savings banks (unlike the other banks such as BBVA) all have "obra social" as their chief mission -- their gains must go into such projects rather than as dividends to shareholders. Good system.
As I implied above, the week in Spain as a whole was much less chaotic than in our personal lives. The Socialist government even managed to get its budget approved in Congress at the last minute! This involved a lot of negotiation and patience with all the smaller parties and the one big opposition party, so it's further evidence of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's abilities as a political operative.
I hope to have something more substantive to say about events here this coming Friday. And now that I've discovered the resources of the Casa Encendida, I'll be able to post. Till then, Happy Winter Solstice!
(By the way, does anybody know why the early Christians, trying to peg their holiday to the pagan festival that everybody was already celebrating, missed by 3 days? The solstice is December 22, I believe. How could they get that wrong?