You have to see the light of Madrid to believe its force, the way it leaves its mark on everything. Once seen you won't forget its clear, radiant whiteness. It floods the streets, rolls over houses and people and cars and parks. It flows like time itself.
The city itself is in a permanent flux, crawling with people, always on to the next day away from the last. The dancing of the light is mirrored in this constant meandering of human beings running through their maze.
In the afternoon heat the streets will empty. Life is seeking shelter, its hefty pace gives away to a slow stroll. But come evening, activity will grow again with the setting of the sun. It's the start of night life. In the morning everything will be forgotten while a cool breeze blows in from the Guadarrama mountains. Then the light will start its surge again.
This summer, there was a different feel to Madrid. At first sight the shopping crowds looked the same, walking and talking like always. Economic growth has made Spain wealthy and luxurious. But it's a mundane prosperity, it begs the question of its foundations. There is no light without shadow.
In the streets, some look worried. Men and women are queuing for immigration service. Madrid's Ecuadorian workforce is more in a hurry than ever, up and about before dawn. Television sets are blaring but even the TV people seem to be losing self-confidence. Unfinished buildings are frozen under construction, warning signs of a crashing market. The first layoffs have registered. People are wondering what lies ahead.