Sunday, July 10, 2011

Don't Let the Rain Come Down!

A month in Europe – Part II

Don't let the rain come down. Oh, No! Don't let the rain come down.... Remember that song?

We left Madrid this morning (Monday, July 4th) catching the fast train to Barcelona. We transferred to a commuter train & arrived in Sitges just after 2:00PM. A short taxi ride later & we were in our seaside hotel, the Platjador. We are across the street from the beach. The only thing between us and the water (other than the road, of course) is a bar/restaurant. Convenient, no?

Madrid was a whirlwind of fun, alcohol and Madrid Pride. Everywhere we went in Madrid, we were told “Happy Pride”. At the local Mac Donald’s, we got a free Madrid Pride fan. It was unreal with virtually every shop displaying a rainbow flag or some other acknowledgement of Gay Pride.

On Saturday morning, Doc & I met Ronny & Hernan for breakfast. We got there early: 10:30AM. Yeah, that’s early for Madrid. Over breakfast, we discussed the day’s schedule. Ronny & Hernan needed to be to the Madrid Pride Parade staging area around 5 PM. Doc & I decided we needed to be on the parade route around 6PM to ensure a good seat. There were about 2 million visitors to Madrid for Madrid Pride. They were ALL going to the parade, right? We needed to get there early.

We walked the two blocks to the Calle Gran Via & found a great spot with a great view of the street. I noticed that there were not many spectators lined up along the street. Most of those we saw were strolling down the street towards the beginning of the parade route – about 10 blocks from where we’d staked out our seats. I began getting suspicious.

As the time for the parade’s beginning approached, the crowds grew. They took to the street crowding Calle Gran Via. Police cars & motorcycles patrolled the calle pushing the crows back. Still, Doc & I had plenty of room on the side of the street. I’m still suspicious. Something’s wrong.

Madrid, at 7:00 PM was hovering around 95F. The crowd was feeling the heat. I’m from Palm Springs. 95F is cool and comfortable. The crowd along the street is looking up towards the balconies overlooking Calle Gran Via. I’m clueless.

Without warning, a bucket full of water came flying over the balcony railing just to the left of us. The people sitting next to us were soaked. The crowd on the street was ecstatic. A chant of “Agua! Agua!” began.

I’m still clueless & I let the people above us know I was not pleased. The young woman indicated she wouldn’t drench me. Could I trust her?

Another shower rained down to the right of us. I then noticed water raining down from the balconies all along Calle Gran Via. A couple came and sat down next to us. The woman said to me, “Isn’t the water refreshing on such a hot day?”

I’ve always been a slow learner, but I’m beginning to catch on. The crowd is enjoying the cooling rain of water in the heat of the street. I’m already enjoying the cool 90 degree temperatures and the added “precipitation” is not cooling. It’s damp and cold!

I’m beginning to appreciate the fun the crowd is having both on the ground and above. The spectators directly above us are honoring the request of the Yanqui grumpus below them. Water rains down to the right & the left of us. I decided to walk out to the center of the street to see if I could take a picture of the “rain”.

Before I could even turn on the camera, a bucket of water was poured off the balcony directly above us, right on to Doc’s head! A young man three floors up is giving me a huge shit-eating grin. I wanted so badly to laugh: if I did, Doc would never forgive me. I gave the guy a bug grin and a thumbs up…...

Doc was soaked through to his undies. He dumped the water out of his boat shoes and scowled at me as if I’d planned it!

I didn’t get a photo.

While Doc walked the two blocks back to the hotel to dry off & change, I loosened up, dropped the Yanqui attitude and enjoyed the parade. Happy, Pride, Madrid!

Thanks for listening,

Jerry L. Hanson

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