Tuesday, December 30, 2003

December 31, 2003
Well, I have fallen in love with this Spanish country. It really is deep in history and is the backstory for the American West. Those onery Conquistadors gave us so much it's not even funny.

I guess the most amazing thing I've seen on the trip is that every Spanish town we have been in has had a thriving downtown. It's like something out of the 1950s, with people walking along bustling streets, dressed up, buying things, talking, laughing. When we first got here I thought maybe it was just because of the Christmas season, but it keeps going. On the main square in Toledo, where it was maybe 5 degrees Celsius, everyone for miles around was there. The men wearing ties, the women dressed in long, fur coats, the kids running and playing. Last night in Valencia (a Tuesday night!) they had a 5K run and everyone lined the streets and cheered. Of course they are on Spanish time so the race started at 8 pm. It is now 11:30 and people are still out, walking around. Just such a sense of community and fun. Really inspiring (and where did we go wrong?).

One possible reason I've come up with is that we haven't encountered what I call the thug factor. You know how in the states no matter where you go there are these punk guys, gangstered out, running in packs and looking intimidating (and I'm talking about all races and ages, I've even seen junior high kids that make me nervous). There is none of that here. We were standing at a subway station entrance and these ten boys, maybe 16-17 years old, were standing there and they were trying to talk to girls, the usual, but they were like teddy bears. Not the thug type 'tude. We walked everywhere, at night, in a crowded downtown and felt completely safe. Amazing.

The other thing I noticed: no mobile homes, and no tin sheds. Every town is built with adobe and the whole town looks like a cohesive part of the same unit (and these towns are 400 years older than ours!). There isn't that ugly sprawl, that hop skotches out away from the center. They apparently have never encountered aluminum siding either.

And by the way, a little off of the subject, we have a new poll on the website. Give us your thoughts on the Ron Howard movie, The Missing. Go vote now!

"Still can´t wait to get home to the states"

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