The 20's of May are almost finished and the 7pm sun is still hot enough to bake the dust that swirls up in the heat.
The festivities have yet to begin and the police are still in the shade. The very recent whitewash would still be wet if the temperatures weren't in the 30's. The quick facelift paint job doesn't work...the square shows its age. Layers of lime make interesting forms, but even years of people sitting on the same spot have yet to smooth polish the uncomfortable granite seats that also bake in the sun.
The crowd is definitely not only made up of men...close to 50% are women, some dripping in pearls, and others dripping in youth. Shawls and fans are eagerly thrown into the ring, as well as hats and wine skins, all are thrown back.
Many complain that what is seen today is a shadow of what it used to be... Shadows indeed.
One man's boredom leads him to shout, 'Music maestro!'...The paso doble lightens the lengthening shadows. Some say there is method to when the municipal band strikes up, but some also say there is method to madness, here there is neither.
Dogmatists on the Left have tried to demonize the fair, claiming that it is a right-wing hangover, unfit for such civilized times in which we live. Closet fans on the Left watch in secret on blue screens in their living rooms, then switch between McDonalds ads, Boxing, CNN footage of the Israeli army attacking aid convoys and Lady Gaga videos documenting the more civilized acts of our times. Right or Left, the flashes of colour Picasso raved about are still there.
Critics point to the empty seats...and here they are right. Whether the ring was half-full or half-empty depends on how you look at it, but popular they still are. Popular in the truest form, for all ages and classes. The extremely pricey tickets could have something more to do with the empty seats than regurgitated Nordic slogans calling for bans.
The sun mellows and the swallows invade the ring, dive bombing for bugs among the sand. The whoosh of the storks returning to their nests overhead is at times the only sound in the golden light. Everyone here wants to leave having seen a miracle, a masterpiece....next time, next time.