Wednesday, December 23, 2009

besitos en la oscuridad

New Year's Eve is called "nochevieja" here.  And apparently in Madrid, there are two.  The first of which occurred Friday night.  I guess it's mostly just celebrated by the university kids (an excuse to go out, it sounds like), but every year there's a "false" new year's eve two weekends before the real one.

Let me briefly describe the real nochevieja traditions: The downtown area of Sol fills with people, who all eat 12 grapes at midnight - one with every ring of the bell.  Although Sol gets way-crowded, I feel like it's mostly just tourists, as all the people I know who live in Madrid say they have never gone to Sol; they eat dinner and stay in with the family that night.

I learned of this second, early nochevieja from my madrileño friend Sergio.  So we planned to make dinner together at my friend Mike's house, with Iz, Richard, Sergio, and his friend Miguel.  Then meet up with more of their friends in Sol by 12, and then go out.  That night when Iz and I were picking up a few things at the grocery store, the people in front of us were only buying two cans of 12 grapes in each (which are sold at this time of year, for the real nochevieja).  Made the false nochevieja seem more legit.

Cut to later Friday night, 9 o'clock: Izzy and I are cutting up vegetables in Mike's kitchen.  Mike and Richard just left to pick up a few more things at the grocery store before it closed.  Sergio and Miguel have not yet arrived.  I turn on the oven. Doorbell rings. Aaand lights go out.... now.  So, right when Sergio and Miguel got there, all the power went out in Mike's apartment.

Him not being there, we weren't sure what to do.  Awkwardly met Miguel and introduced Sergio to Izzy in the dark.  Going into panic mode, some English flies out of my and Iz's mouths to each other.  We explain to the boys that neither of us live here, and the roomies weren't home. We call Mike. No answer.  Then the boys look to the front door for an electric box.

Using our cell phones our only source of light, we find it.  They flip a switch.  Makes a weird sound. No lights. Flip it again.  Same weird, unpleasant sound. Then Iz mentioned something about how Richard told her a couple of weeks ago that when his dishwasher is on, sometimes their power goes out at his apartment. Hmm. Was it the oven?  I go back to the kitchen, grab for the oven dial. Turn it off.  Score!  Lights back up.  Richard and Mike return, and we recount the electricity action.

It was a pretty funny, awkward situation.  You couldn't plan an ice-breaker as good as that one.

We made it to Sol with a few minutes to spare.  There was a botellón inside of the Sol metro station - it was crazy!  And afterwards, heading from Sol to Moncloa, the metro was just stuffed.  Normally on the platform there are, oh gee, 20-30 people waiting on one side.  Maybe more? Maybe less? I'm terrible at estimating.  The point is, normally there is plenty of space between people:

 A normal platform

But that night, while waiting for the train to Moncloa... there was not a single ounce of space between people on the platform.  It was insane.  I knew we'd have to push and shove if we wanted to make it on this train.  Which we did.  But alas, Michael has all the pictures from the platform/metro ride... and he has yet to put them up.  So that will be added at a later date.  But rather than sitting on the seats inside the metro train, people were standing on them, so that there would be more space for bodies where their legs normally would have been.

All in all, great night with the Spaniards.

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