"Sonriendo se empieza el dia"
Most of us have seen him at some point. Be it at Puerta del Sol, or around La Latina. He usually comes with a fanfare of noise and disco beats as you’re sipping away a beer and turn your head around to see what all the fuss is about.
Through the hustle and bustle of the city, a different kind of beat comes out – the beat of youth within the body of a 60 year old who goes by the name José, but likes to be referred to as the last cowboy of Madrid as he drives his million led-lit tricycle through the streets "just to make people smile".
José is a piece of Burning Man festival in Madrid, a fearless whisper to the mind, that we are never too old to act as children, never too old to do what makes us happy.
When I asked him about his motives, José tells me this is what he does as his wife stays at home. His only mistress is the night, and the cigarettes he’s not allowed to smoke.
On one of my solitary night outings, I set myself out to go check out the medieval festival they were having in the Andalusian town of Mojacar, up in the mountains. Saturday night, after 22, was meant to be the party of all parties that would last until sunrise. Or so the tourism office website said.
Excited with the idea that there might be crowds of people around and that would most likely make me feel less of an alien, I jumped on the last bus before 1am and headed over there. Finally, as I arrived there, there was of course no sign of massive festivities. The streets were busy but walkable. And the concert venues were mostly empty of people.
Perhaps I had come too early. Or perhaps this festival wasn’t getting any more crowded. Regardless of that, after several walks around the festival, listening here and there to concerts and smiling randomly at people, I finally dropped my motivation to continue this solitary adventure and headed my way down to buy myself a return bus ticket.
On my way down, I noticed a last little street, of which it had a heading saying, “medieval market”. Markets could never hurt for a detour. After all, I might find something to bring back as a souvenir from this failed escapade I thought.
In the street, I found different jewellery stands as well as a curious owl petting stand. None were too impressive. All but one I thought, which seemed to be the only pitched on the opposite side of the street. It was a tarot reading tent.
I walked passed it already several meters away into my thoughts when I suddenly decided to turn back and head out to it.
As I approached the tent, a fat man was sitting inside. He wore a grey shirt that covered his big belly. On it he laid his arms in a crossed fashion and his chin was bent downwards as though he was reading something. I noticed the small light of his cell phone shining and assumed it was that. I entered the star covered draped cavern a step further with a first hello, to which I got no response. A second one, again with no response. And to my third I thought that there was perhaps a possibility that I was disturbing someone in a sneaky nap they had offered themselves. The forth hello came out of impulse and probably a thud to un convince myself of my bad manners. At the forth however, the man rose his chin up and either very concentrated or half asleep, told me to come in.
I had a manner with certain impulses. I usually tried to live a life where no day looked the same. Where I could try one magical thing a day to at least try and remind myself that life is not as bland as it may seem. However, once I did want to head into something – I had a tendency of sometimes planning my impulses. A treason perhaps to the impulsive personality I had within me, and that I thought, corresponded well with the other side of my personality, which knew its boundaries and safety zones.
It was my way I thought, of allowing myself margin between either doing something really good, or, incredibly stupid.
The man asked me to sit down and said he would read the energies from my hands. For only 5 euros.
I had prepared myself to forget about the perhaps monetary motivation behind his “occupation” and let my hands be read while I lowered any judgment I might have. I had learned to be on guard about these kinds of spiritual things.
He started to trace the lines of my hands with the opposite end of a bic pen. What I cheap tool I thought, for someone who sold himself as a hand reader. As he read the lines of my identity, the lines of my life, he said my life would be long and filled with waves of ups and downs and it was a character of my life I shouldn’t escape. That two future trips would influence my life profoundly. That I had the kind of character that needed passion in her life. The mundane was a killer for me, and yet I seek stability. That I hated loneliness, but that I seek a community of loners. That I was a strong person in a life with many impasses. And that finally, I had a tendency of the following the Spanish saying: salir de caballo Andaluz, y parar de burrito Manchego. (Which in English meant, to go out as an Andalusian horse, and to stop like a Manchego donkey). When I asked for explanation about the sentence, he said it meant that I was the kind of person that would start projects full frontal and full of energy; but that there would always be a time where I would halt just after or just before the finish line –to contemplate the options…or sometimes never finish what I started.
Finally, he left it at that and turned to his right to take out a small little artefact he had kept in a metallic box kept on the table. It was a small golden pendulum. Carved with several rings and a subtle yet pointy end that glistened to the lights.
He asked me to raise out one hand, and while holding the end of the string attached to it, let the pendulum drop in the centre of my hand. I was to let it rest there and clench a fist around it when I had a question in mind, until I was done thinking of it.
Like someone who had found a genie, I was granted five silent questions. To which I let my mind wander for a while to prepare a few until I told myself I would just see whatever would come up.
He grabbed my hand and rested it in his palm, placing the pendulum in my hand. When I was ready, I let go of my hand with my first questions ready in mind.
“Will my crazy projects ever get done” I thought hard. He said nothing. The pendulum moved and paused. “Yes!”, he uttered energetically. With an expression in his face and lips that said there was no space for questions to be asked.
“Will I ever ty back bonds with my parents”…. “No. And it will be very difficult” he uttered.
“Will my relationship last for the year…or years to come?”. Double yes. “Yes to your first question, and yes to the other” he muttered. (I didn’t even know double questions were allowed in this game)
“Will my parents ever be happy without me?”. “No”. I was speechless for a while.
And finally question 5
“Is this man a fraud?”.
He let the pendulum hang for a while, and in silence we both watched it move upwards several times until it came to a still. He raised his head and looked at me in the eye and without ever having heard my question answered: “Yes… And don’t even attempt to go near it”.
He smiled and that indicated the end of our session.
I gave the man my 5 euros and a smile in return. Awaited my change and left the fat sleepy man’s curtained cavern. Later I walked myself to the beach and had the remains of a cigarette I had left by a sidewalk. It gave view to the waves. And I sat there for a while, contemplating into the night about what I had just lived.
(Leoncio is a tarot and hand reader as well as a massage therapist and hynosist working in Spain )
Today i'm sharing with you some great news and need your help !! My Last Words For the Road project has gotten nominated for the Social Art Award 2017 in Berlin !!!The award goes to artists who involve themselves in creating art with the intention of moving the people. My project's intention over the past 4 years has been to collect quotes from strangers - which represent the individuals personal slogans. By exposing these to the public people can find resonance in another persons words and life experiences - therefore creating a link between two strangers who have never met. In my project - everyone has got a story to tell and my goal has been to expose it. Though I am already very happy that I even got passed nominations - now in order to be selected as a final winner with the chance of being EXPOSED IN BERLIN a public voting has been opened ! Essentialy this means clicking on the link below and just giving a like to my application. No sign in is required. Thanks a million in any case and more news to follow soon !
Link here : http://social-art-award.org/?contest=photo-detail&photo_id=425
Week 3 of 4 volunteering in Greece. Objective : Finding similarities between travelers and refugees through their stories of search and hope.
The sea around here has a peculiar attraction. We fear it and at the same time admire it. As it is a bearer of good premonitions, and sometimes, such as yesterday, of bad ones…Yesterday morning a boat sank between turkey and greece, and our shores have washed up so far 16 bodies...but rescued 2 people one of whom was pregnant. Yesterday was a sad day for all, but today we are out there again.
In the last three weeks we have spent more hours than ever staring at the Aegan sea. Observing it. Reaching out to it. Bringing people from it, who have made the decision to leave behind them danger in exchange for safety abroad, or at least, the idea if not the illusion of it...On our night visions they appear like little spots of red or white on a monochrome landscape that is the sea at night as the heat exposes their presence. But no amount of red or white spots can show what inner anxiety they must feel as they cross over the sea for possibly the most stressful 2 hours of their lives...
No one should have to go through crossing the sea in such conditions. No matter the political opinions we may have, we have all at some point in our lives wanted to find a better life, move abroad to find a better home and leave behind us a life that gave us no new opportunities. These people who floke the sea and cross are in search of the same things as me and you. To move, to travel, to live, to smile.
The team of lighthouse relief is one of the biggest teams of volunteers here in Lesbos. But every minute counts. Out there in the sea we are blind, So we need all the pair of eyes we can.
Our minds will not rest and neither will our eyes, Lighthouse relief is trying to complete their 24/7 watch. So please come volunteer if you can - they are accepting and training people all year round. Even if you have 10 days to spare they will be useful. The work is hard but compensated by a great team. Email at email@example.com / www.lighthouserelief.com
Below a pic from the lighthouse we use as night spotting some time between 6am. And perhaps quiet ironically a nice reminder that all that we have left is hope...
(right photo credit : Alison Krimsky)
Last Words for the Road project just came back from three intense days of meeting with passionate travelers who have come to share their projects and travel stories ! The 2017 Getaway of the Travel Storytelling Festival opened up a spot for me to present the project in front of a crowd as well as have a little corner to hang some of the quotes.
The experience was incredibly rewarding in terms of the feedback received, the smiles and attentive ears I encoutnered as well as the general vibe that hung in the air as a small community of over 150 travelers gathered in the Chateau de La Poste Castle in Belgium.
I'd like to thank all the people there who have made this weekend so great as well as those who have left me quotes now and over the last 4 years to have made it possible to make this book in creation ! Thanks again ! :-)
I met Cristina and her friends during Madrid’s annual gay Pride. As the streets were brimming with people dancing, chanting, kissing, but also, ironically, a lot of sitting.
It was like in 4 days, the city had decided to go out to party but also organize one giant bottellon covering her plazas with unknown faces and spirit bottles, while her skies breathed in the countless clouds of cigarette smoke dishcharged from a crowd of night owls.
But if you ever have to experience the essence of gay pride in any part of the world, particularly in Madrid, I highly suggest you to experience in on her last day.
That yearly sunday, as the city is waking up from one big orgasm and having her after-sex cigarette it is custom for the last survivors who still believe in killing the night as Hemingway said, to sit on plazas for an attemp at a last night-of-perhaps crazyness. [...] It is here that groups of strangers mytose into large circles of new aquaintances – like Cristina and her friends that we met that night – sharing cigarettes and conversations and tying new friendships. And though Madrid's annual gay pride is supposed to be about the gay community having their annual celebration, I don't think I have every experienced such a stronge feeling of community than here - not because of the underlying purpose of this event - but simply because Madrid just has that thing. Madrid is just that chubby classmate always out for a good laugh. Madrid is that tap in the back congratulating you on a dirty joke. Madrid is that feeling of satisfacion you get when you’re sharing a private smirk with a stranger in the metro. Madrid is that extra can of beer you forgot you left in your fridge. Madrid…? Madrid!? Madrid is just a beautifully punctuated stop on anyone’s road.
"Last words for the Road" by Lauren Klarfeld
Book-in-the-making : A collection of hand written quotes left by the people I met on the road (7 years and running)