Here I am, about 10 pm, and really ready to sleep, partially because the cold I've been doing battle with since Sunday has a bit of the upper hand tonight, and mostly because we've been on the go for three weeks. Travel is exquisite and delightful and every synapse is firing all the time. Our poor brains cannot depend upon any familiarity to tune out, zone out or do-by-rote, and thus in the act of all that creative neuron activity, the poor body simply cannot keep up, no matter how many tapas are ingested.
However, Spain outside our windows,is just gearing up for the dinner hour, the few more hours of gestation and conversation. Thankfully, the apartment has fabulous double-paned windows, the like of which we need for our Pipe Creek winter norther howling winds (where does one buy these, we ask?). Xevi has told us he rarely sleeps before midnight, and that those with jobs do show up at 8' but, yes, most businesses close from 2 to 4 or 5 and then work resumes til 8, when it's time for tapas.
It is perhaps emblematic that the morning TV show goes on until 2 pm. (at least) with a cooking show segment so slow, relaxed and with every step done in real time, that I watcher for an hour without one dish being completed.
Frankly, we are still not certain that anyone in Spain does actually sleep. Or that anyone is not actually eating all of the time. Why this country rather than the US doesn't have weight issues is a mystery to me.... Between chocolate and churros, tortillas Espanola, jamon, quesos, patisseries three to the block, three courses at lunch, tapas and wine then dinner, another 3 or so courses, maybe liquor and cafe....Well... Who knows, except that all that eating, shopping and talking means that one is moving all the time, and basically for most without the benefit of the automobile. And shops there are, each a tiny jewel box of enterprise, with it's own customers and passerbys. From organic bread to olives, to truly functional mini "supermercados" the size of large shoeboxes, there is an energy around the doing of daily chores that is so human scaled.
Of all the curses I think we Americans must own up to, our cities and lives designed around automobiles rankle me the most. At least in our southwestern sprawl, We don't have real neighborhoods where old ladies can meet with their dogs, where kids of all colors can shoot hoops, where there is something to do and watch and care about that is not on a little screen of some kind. Bravo Barcelona, may we really take to heart your urban lessons. I love my country life, but I realize that someday it will all be too much for me, too far to drive, too much house, too isolated from others. I hope other kinds of neighborhoods and communities will prosper, moRe European in impulse, less individualistic, perhaps.