February 29, 2024

Last Thursday night, the same night I wrote the morning entry, “Rain in Madrid“, I was seated here at the computer doing the usual stuff. It was raining solidly. The window was open slightly because I like the cool air – always, even in winter. And then I heard it at about 11pm.

From what I could deduce, there was a group of 3 or 4 late-teen gypsy girls on the street below, just around the corner out of sight from my building. Undoubtedly they were sheltered under an awning safe from the rain. 2 or 3 of them were all being “palmeras” while one sang.

Palmeras” are the people whom clap in rapid succession at flamenco shows. One person claps the on-beat while the other claps the off-beat, the two varying the rhythm of the accompaniment by varying the rhythm of their clapping.

The precision of the rapid clapping, each of the songs lasting only about 30 seconds while the other woman sang, was truly impressive. The impromptu street concert lasted nearly an hour, off and on, and they’d chatter and laugh between each one.

I went to my balcony several times when they started a new “song” and got wet but I didn’t care much. I was there listening, live, to Spanish gypsies, whom were clearly enjoying themselves as they could, as they do. It was certainly not flamenco, nor was it professional, but it was IMPRESSIVE and obviously their form entertainment on this rainy Thursday night.

The entertainment was intended for them but it was me whom felt entertained most. I wondered if the Spanish neighbors felt the same. I doubted it, though. They were likely more annoyed than entertained since they already have their “feelings” towards gypsies ingrained since birth and I’m just a permanent tourist, a foreigner whom does not have these little jewels of life given to him everyday. If only I’d lived across the street and could watch from my window to enjoy – and maybe video – this precious moment.

My desire was to get dressed and go down to the street and watch, listen, and experience this moment with them, talk to them. But I thought better of it. This entertainment was for THEM – not for non-gypsies – and definitely not for “rich tourists” whom could be paying for such things at CafĂ© de Chinitas instead of getting a free show on the sidewalk.

When living in a foreign land everything’s new, fresh, and exciting to you. You see things and hear things other people mention in conversation.  But now you’re here, seeing things with your own eyes, hearing things with your own ears, and having feelings you’ve never experienced before. Once-dormant parts of your brain are now alive and electric, absorbing the stimuli.

These are just a few of the many joyous things about living abroad. If everyone could have the opportunity their lives would be changed forever. Their minds would be open to new ideas, new ways of seeing the same things, new ways of interacting with others not of your own culture, and most importantly, a fresh, more objective view of the world in which we live. Afterall, it’s not my planet. It’s OUR planet. Let’s share.

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