Fire and Water
By Oscar Ten Houten at Jun 27, 2011
Street fighting has broken out in Madrid. Yesterday I witnessed a battle in the alleys of Lavapiès. Guns, rifles and grenades were used. The ammunition was water.
Today the fighting has reached Puerta del Sol. At nightfall two groups of armed guerillas entered the square with shopping carts full of water grenades. The ensuing bombing left dozens of people soaked.
The summer has begun, in Madrid as well. Spanish tradition demands that the ocasion be marked by a celebration during the Night of St. John. People get together, on the beaches, in the forests and in the parks. They bring beer and calimocho, the typical Spanish mix of Coca Cola and cheap red wine. At midnight they light their fires, they take out their drums, their guitars, and they dance. It’s heavily tribal. I like it. There’s a massive monastery-like ruin overlooking the park. There are fires burning everywhere, a thick smell of wood and hash hovers over the grass. Wherever I look, people are dancing. Some of them are jumping through the flames, hand in hand.
An important part of the midsummernight tradition is that you write down on one piece of paper all the bad things that happened to you during the last year, and you burn it. On another slip of paper you write down the good things that you would like to happen next year, and you keep it.
I burned a couple of personal things, and I watched on as the wind carried away the smoke and the ashes. The other paper I safely put away. You cannot show it to anybody, because then it won’t come true. It doesn’t matter. I’m sure most people share the same hopes for this year. Not only for themselves, but for us all.