a day before sarah and i left for madrid to visit our friend david de ugarte, i emailed him our flight information and told him how excited we were to see him. "we too!!!" he replied within minutes. "we? who's we?" sarah asked. i answered, "i have no idea."
we spent seven days in spain - in a flat in madrid and on a roadtrip through five spanish states. we had lunch in a castle in trujillo, dinner in the medieval city of cáceres, and lunch within the roman walls of avila. we had wines! bottles of red, bottles of white, and a thick sweet sherry that would magically appear after the segunda and with dessert. mostly we talked - in the late morning over coffee, during our post-siesta walkabouts across madrid, and throughout the most delicious lunches and dinners of my life.
it was a remarkable visit and vacation. and it all began with david and maria.
i met david at a conference in prague in summer, 2003. he was, and is, a ciberpunk. he's an economist, a theorist, and a builder. he wrote 11M: redes para ganar una guerra (in english). he helped build el proyecto septiembre. and, with help from las indias, he recently dreamt up feevy. to me, david is one of the most important and most creative theorist/builder of cyberactivism/network culture/cyberculture. because he writes primarily in spanish, many US and UK academics have never heard of him. what a shame.
david and maria live together in a fifth-floor double-flat in downtown madrid. maria runs la biblioteca de las indias - a library that is partly books, partly digital texts, and purely the future. maria is heavily involved in sociedad de las indias electrónicas. maria makes david glow.
upon arrival, we learned that we would be sharing a flat with alex girard, an international freelance web developer straight outta toulouse, france. alex built feevy. some days, after lunch, we'd sit around and talk about new features for feevy. then, most of us would take a siesta. hours later, we would awake and alex would tell us that all the features were built and implemented. alex is cool - the kind of person you look forward to knowing for decades.
david and maria are magnets for interesting people. one night we went to a basque restaurant and met natalie fernandez, the director of las indias, and juan urrutia ("the paul krugman of spain!" david would tell us, literally jumping up and down while describing juan and his juan's work). also, roger colom - and, briefly, carro - joined us for a few days from valencia on his way to buenos aires. roger shared stories and skits from la internacional melancólica, taught me about the art scene in buenos aires, and suggested that the september project encourage events on all 11ths - not just september.
for seven days, sarah and i enjoyed a civilized life. we ate real food - fresh food, seasonal food, regional food. we drank gallons of wine but because we drank while eating and walked between eating we seldom had more than a warm, fuzzy buzz. of course it wasn't all eating and drinking. at some point, we actually worked and built wanna be presidents, a feevy blog aggregator that follows the blogs of US presidential hopefuls. first finding: the web team for john mccain - and many other presidential candidates - neither understands nor uses RSS. can you believe that?
it wasn't all perfect. the endless walls of avila were incredible but it was surreal to see burger king so close. it was sad to drive to a small valley town known for cherry trees and learn that the trees have not yet blossomed even though it is mid-march. the people of the town seemed understandably nervous. in the same town, and across spain, we saw nests on the tops of churches. massive nests with huge, beautiful storks in them. in march, david told us, storks are suppposed to be in africa. "storks are global!" he screamed, "they should not be in spain in march." these days, in our times, age old patterns of cherry trees and storks have gone bonkers.
one thing's for certain - it sure is fun travelling with sarah. it's fun to see new places with her and through her eyes, especially when we are with such expert and generous hosts. and even though the cat sometimes freaks out when we travel (the day we returned to san francisco, nene peed on my new jeans) i have a strong feeling that las indias will be meeting up again, in some place somewhere, real soon.