Archive for January, 2014

That’s right. That is what I researched and wrote about last semester for my Medieval Spanish Literature class. No, these are not drunk girls on Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale, and they are not drunk girls in New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. Philistines, lack of academic rigor… If you want to know about them, you will have to read on,

Having taken only one class this last semester, I only have one essay to show. As usual, remember that this is a rough, rough draft, so use at your own discretion and remember to cite. This work has not been published in a peer reviewed journal, or in any journal, for that matter. I hope you like it, as I did put an awful amount of work into it. If you do like it please comment, if you do not like it, I do not need reminding what a hack I am, thank you very much.

oh, BTW it is all written in Spanish.

Serranas Marcela puente

Defensor del pueblo

Defensor del pueblo

La unión y el fenix

La unión y el fenix

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Angel caido

Angel caido

Café en el retiro

Café en el retiro

Castellana

Castellana

20140101_194322 20140101_202347 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWith all the reading I have to do I only took ten days to visit my family in Madrid this Winter Break. I was happily busy with my parents, sisters, nieces and nephew, but a couple of times I managed to sneak out and walk around my Madrid, absorbing every sight, smell, sound and feeling. I love this city. While every city is unique in its personality and character, Madrid seems even more unique. This might be due to the fact that for centuries Madrid, although the capital of Spain since around 1561 was extremely isolated. It is not only the highest capital in Europe (667 m, 2,188 ft. above sea level), it is also terrifically well protected, surrounded as it is by mountains. It is also in the middle of nowhere. No harbor, no navigable river, sitting in the middle of a massive plateau. Unless you needed to visit the king, you really had no reason to go to Madrid. The name Castille does not come in vain. Of course it has Arab influences, and every type of cultural imprint since the Middle Ages, most notably the French influence of the Bourbon dynasty starting in 1713. So Madrid is a village in La Mancha, never mind the more or less 6 million inhabitants. But it is my home town.

But, what is a city but a collection of people at any given moment? Madrid is where you can find Medieval feudal noblemen (and their wannabes) – “Hello? We are in the 21st Century!” You want to shout as you shake them by their tweed lapels, to tattooed hipsters brewing their own beer and roasting their own coffee. You can find ladies dressed in couture next to punks who think we are still in the 80s. From Ferraris to ancient Seat 600s. From Arab inspired chickpea “cocido” stew to frozen yogurt, from blistering heat to snow and ice, Babies and old relics walking side by side, in the summer months this happens into well entered the night. It is these contrasts that make me love Madrid. In winter you can still find old ladies selling roasted chestnuts next to glossy shop windows, or a Chinese owned convenience store selling “bocadillos de chorizo” late, late at night.

Although most morning were devoted to walks with my dad, one morning I took my niece and nephew to the Retiro park where María roller skated while Jimmy skateboarded. It was chilly and we stopped for Cola-Cao – the Spanish brand of hot cocoa – and coffee in one of the bars around the park, it was a blast!

And the neighborhoods. I chat with my coffee shop owner (Felix) with my newspaper kiosk owner (Yague), with my cigar expert (José), with concierges, with the lottery sales lady, with shopkeepers I have known since I was a boy, with neighbors, with the bank employees, even the local cops.

A heartbreaking aspect of these visits is that I do not have enough time to visit everyone I would like to see. It is a delicate knit of family time, friend time, and some me time. I was lucky to visit with some friends and family, to walk around a bit and to catch a couple of interesting art exhibits near my parents’ home.

Although my visit to Madrid was short this time, I still had time to refresh and renew my love for this city I love so much.

Rocinante hanging w a '59 Chevy at the post office

Rocinante hanging w a ’59 Chevy at the post office

Warm and clean covered Helmut (and Rocinante)

Warm and clean covered Helmut (and Rocinante)

Rocinante @ 5 Guys

Rocinante @ 5 Guys

Rocinante and Helmut

Rocinante and Helmut

Burguer at the Saxapahaw General Store

Burguer at the Saxapahaw General Store

Rocinante has complained that this blog is titled antonioyrocinante, and yet it mostly mentions Antonio and not Rocinante. So here are some news on old Rocinante.

Unfortunately, the truth is that there is not so much to say about lovely, trustworthy, tough, old Rocinante. It has been a quiet semester for her. The only noteworthy outings we made where to Raleigh, the capital of NC, a mere 30 miles away, Cary, a nearby village some 20 miles away, and Saxapahaw a lovely hamlet with a reconditioned old textile mill and a General Store that has fantastic food!! It is a lovely ride on back roads to a great lunch, coffee, cigar and read!

Other than that I try to take Rocinante out at least once a week, even if it is down the road to grab a burger at the local 5 Guys or to run some errands! When not out and about, she sits on the driveway keeping Helmut company or – if it is raining, she comes inside with me until the sun comes back out and we can ride again!

Rocinante’s highlight, if you asked her, would probably be getting an oil change and her 24 K service done at Rommel’s Harley Davidson in Durham. She also got a new right hand (gas) grip, apparently they did not have the left hand one…

Neither one of us can wait until the Spring and getting over this exam to be able to go on a good ride!

As for Helmut, little can be said, he sits on the driveway, bored to tears. I was so remorseful that I bought him a nice cover so all the leaves from the tree he lives under would not fill his engine bay. We go to Trader Joe’s once or twice a week, and to the Ronald McDonald House when the weather is too bad to take Rocinante. I feel bad for Helmut, used as he is to blasting around New England enjoying 3 digit speeds. Now in our old age, the three of us live quiet lives – although occasionally we do stretch out our legs.

Sushi!

Sushi!

The Carducho (or Carducci)

The Carducho (or Carducci)

The arboretum

The arboretum

The Carolina Inn

The Carolina Inn

(delicious) Taco Truck

(delicious) Taco Truck

Did I mention Gelato?

Did I mention Gelato?

Mandey of Zog's w a broken finger

Mandey of Zog’s w a broken finger

The pool in the theatre!

The pool in the theatre!

Older posts might mention this, so please excuse my old age and incipient dementia. I want to tell you about Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill, I tell people, is a village, a thriving, dynamic, diverse village, but a village nonetheless. It has the advantages of a village: everything is walking distance from everywhere, it is easy to make relationships, safety, $4 movies at the main street (Franklin St.) Varsity movie theatre, all this translates to community. On the other hand there is a thriving cultural scene. Just this semester I have seen: Wynton Marsalis with his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Andras Schiff playing Bach’s Goldberg Variations, L-E-V an Israeli modern dance company, Shakespeare’s Tempest and Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses, both with a swimming pool built into the proscenium!, opera (UNC’s The Orpheus Diaries), an early modern Spanish, French and Italian concert, with period instruments! And of course the, for me obligatory Nutcracker ballet. If that was not enough, I have gone to a couple of fascinating conferences by top presenters, for example, one on Baroque Spanish Literature. And then there are always gigs at Zog’s, my favorite bar, that range from reggae to punk to New Orleans Jazz. Given my constant need for stimulation, Chapel Hill delivers. An example of how Chapel Hill fits me like a glove might be Sunday mornings. After my breakfast and coffee I walk to church which is always a rich a rewarding experience with the wise and funny Monsignor Wall. After mass I cross the street to The Carolina Inn, where I enjoy a nice cup of coffee in the cozy living room where I do some reading. Then I walk up the street to the Ackland Art Museum where I sit down in front of a painting to do some more reading. In fact I always sit down in front of the same painting: Madame de Villeneuve-Flayosc, a sweet 18th Century lady with whom I like to converse about the goings on in the Enlightenment. Finally, it is home for lunch, or if it is nice weather for a nice Rocinante ride to search for a nice lunch.

On another level, I have state of the art fitness facilities: gym, swimming pool, basketball courts, etc. There are nice restaurants, cafés and shops (being realistic, and keeping in mind that we are not in New York City). There is a planetarium and an arboretum, there are world class libraries. Best of all, I am so busy reading and working that what little time (and money) I have to spend, I know will be good!