Aprovechar is a verb that I am having the toughest time with, equivocarse also, as it is used in many many MANY situations. To seize an opportunity, such as free time, to do something.
It is Sunday, a holy day set aside for setting aside, for abiding, for resting. I meant only to wander past, not inside of, but found myself in line, paying, entering and standing in front of Mars de Velázquez. His brushwork makes my stomach turn over on itself, I had forgotten how beautiful.
The Prado was designed for accidental entry, for aimless wanderings, as the salas are winding and the paintings are shielded until one if fairly on top of them. I turned a corner, saw a few painting's in Goya's recognizable hand and then openly wept as my eyes took in the 2 y 3 de mayo. No one told me they were huge, but they are huge. Two weeks ago I stood in front of the Palacio Real, the site on which began the Spanish war for Independence against Napoleonic France. There is a monument across the Paseo del Prado for the madrileños who died on 2 de mayo. There are rooms of Goya's paintings, Rubens, Murillo, a hall devoted to Ribera and oh dear Lord, Jacob's fingers in the hair on Isaac's arm. There were angels to comfort Saint Francis after he received the stigmata, to free San Pedro from his shackles and, I would like to believe one to guide me as I wander...mine was painted by Ribera of course.
Yesterday morning I fled from this silent house to Puerta del Sol, the center of Spain, and up Calle Alcalá to the Real Academia de las Bellas Artes de San Fernando. Whew, what a name. The Academia has a large collection of Spanish painting that is humbly hung in a glorious building in the heart of Madrid. A nice temporary exhibition of Goya, including that small autoretrato silhouetted against a beaming window wearing the striped leggings, and a beautiful painting of El Greco of Saint Jerome. The colors El Greco uses to depict skin are so strange, soupy, incandescent and somehow more like skin than all of those fluffy court painters who I really believe were the precursors to photorealism. His body moves, those long strokes of El Grecos brush still pull longer and longer, transparent.
On a personal note that you will just have to endure: I have been lonely for American things, people, accents, peanut butter. It is hard to spend all of my time getting to know people, getting to know this city, getting to be known, watching all of the attractive foreign couples, realizing that I have no plans in one year and that one year will go by so quickly...but I endure! What is that compared to, well, other things.