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Thursday, May 24, 2007

How can you not love Spain?

I had the privilege of visiting Espana as a tourist back in September 1989. Just a blast. Beautiful countryside, friendly people (officialdom aside), great food and 2500 years of history to enjoy. Then there's sangria...
While a friendly people, Spaniards are nuts. But in the best possible way. The difference between the Anglo-Saxon and Latin worldviews came into stark relief when we were there.

Two friends and I stood in the central Madrid train station, trying to get info on how to get to Toledo. Miserably hot, long line, and--best part--low-paid bureaucratico at the window. We get there, only to learn that our paper-pushing friend, a sleepy-eyed chap who made me drowsy just looking at him, informs us in full manana mode, that he has no info, have to go to another window, not sure which one, move along, next! all without so much as a por favor.

Grumbling, we get into the next line, wait, and are informed that El Narcolepto's window was indeed the place to go.

Steam ejecting from three sets of ears, we get back into the original line and my friend Steve tells Sleepy in his best, slowest, most clearly enunciated "This-Is-For-Your-Benefit-Brain-Donor"-paced Spanish, exactly what we need.

"Oh... that.... Here you go. Move along, next!"

Then there was the bed and breakfast we stayed in--just fantastic. Grandmotherly proprietor delighted that youthful Yankees were touring her country--"Toledo, must go to Toledo. El Greco! You're going? Excellente!"

Even more fun was her eccentric number two, who looked rather like the old bald guy who was always getting his head patted in Benny Hill episodes. Except that he had more hair, glasses, and a role in the hierarchy that was never clear. Desk clerk? Laundryman? I'm not sure to this day. He checked our passports to confirm our registrations, and I don't think I ever saw him do anything else again. He was delighted with my middle name--Roy--which, yes, is French for "King." Spanish for king is "Rey," so he never tired of smiling and offering a half-ironic acknowledgment whenever he saw me. Then again, he was so odd, perhaps it wasn't ironic and he was hoping I'd storm the Cortes and depose the noxious pretender, Juan Carlos. Who knows?

The only thing I ever saw him do besides check our IDs and wander through the halls was to peep through the keyhole of a room inhabited by an attractive young French woman, who was apparently drawing a bath. I caught him, he smirked, shrugged, straightened himself out and ambled away in his bathrobe, jauntily muttering God-knows-what.

All of this is a lengthy prelude to a celebration of more eccentric Spaniards, less-dirty-old-mannish, but endowed with delusions of grandeur.

Of course, many Catholics have at least heard of the classiest of the anti-Popes, the late GregoryXVII (now hailed by his followers as "Pope St. Gregory XVII, the Very Great"). Sure, you can have anti-popes elected in cabins, or by Mom & Dad, but Gregory was given papal authority by the Blessed Virgin herself in a remarkably detailed vision. Moreover, Gregory showed the world the possibilites that open up when a sedevacantist is loaded as well as delusional. This is his cathedral:

Not only is Spain home to the reigning pope, I am delighted to report it is also home to the legitimate Byzantine Emperor: Theodoros IX Lascaris Comnenus. This is the family seal:

The dynasty is the brainchild of Eugenio Lascorz, a Spanish laborer who obviously spent too much time delving into things Byzantine. The genealogy listed in the Theodoros link is Eugenio's third crack at it.

Visions, delusions of grandeur and the determination to make them come to life--that's Spain.

I mean, I like Byzantium, too, but you have to give it a rest some time.

Unless that little guy at the bed & breakfast was actually part of a supernatural vision hailing me as Basileus to put paid to the pretender Theodoros....

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