We had an hour or so to kill before our dinner reservation so we went to Plaza Mayor and parked ourselves at a wine bar. The waiter was clever, pointing out that it was almost as cheap to buy a full bottle as two glasses so of course we did just that, ending up with a nice 2008 Rioja and a couple of tapas free of charge. The plaza was busy with tourists and we sat and watched and kept a running commentary on how stupid smokers are.
When it was time to leave MLW went off with some Euros to create some business for one of our favorite street performers, the shiny ambiguous animal with the clapping jaws. It’s funny how if one person starts paying attention, other people get brave and walk up and start paying. It happened last night and it happened again tonight. We probably made 10€ for that performer.

The sky was getting interesting while we were drinking our wine and remembering last year, being trapped in a doorway on the way home from the restaurant and then having to scavenge some cardboard to make it home, I decided that the better course was to bring an umbrella. So we stopped by our apartment and dropped off our ½ bottle of wine and grabbed our remaining intact brolly and began our walk to dinner. Halfway to Puerta del Sol it the sky started to spit so we ducked into a doorway and waited it out. The pageant of humanity on Calle Mayor ensured that we would not be bored.
After stopping at our most favorite souvenir store for the second time today (we remembered that we’d promised spoons to our friend Catherine) we hustled up to El Mandela for our meal.
We really love this place and have just so many memories. We come in once a year, they remember us, we shoot the breeze in bad Spanish and they make this really good bony whole fish for MLW and beef stewed in peanut sauce for me. Something special always comes out, screamingly hot sauce for me, spinach and bacon for us tonight. I have a giant beer from Nigeria, MLW has a copa de tinto and we simply have the best time. And tonight, like last year, it was pouring when left. 

The difference being that we were prepared this time. MLW was well covered, I was mostly so and we only had to make it to Plaza Mayor where we could get under the porticos and out of the rain.
Last year the east side was under repair. This year it was turned into a night time homeless camp and businessmen were actually handing out big cardboard boxes for people to sleep in. It was an odd sight to be sure – blankets spread out in makeshift bedrooms consisting of big boxes. Homeless men sitting in them, eating salads. I’m not sure how I felt about any of it.

From Mayor it was a short dash to our street and down to our building. No worse for the wear but stuffed on African food and feeling good about the evening.