With the excitement of our historic election still fresh, it's easy to get confused. It took me a few seconds this morning to become oriented, having woken up unclear about my location (Malaga) and time (Thursday). It's nice to get the basics taken care of before getting out of bed. After our trip to Madrid with the students this past weekend, Asun stayed behind with Daniela, so it's just Waldo and me this week in Malaga. (Poor Waldo had to be left at a kennel, albeit a very nice one, and when I went to pick him up they told me he's a big crybaby. I knew that! Apparently he just cried and cried the whole time. He's happy now, but man, does he need a bath!) We actually began the trip early Thursday morning and went first to El Escorial, where Philip II built his imperial palace. It's known as a Monastery (Monasterio de San Lorenzo el Real de El Escorial), and there is indeed a monastery within the palace, but its principle purpose was to serve the dual function of royal residence and administrative headquarters for the empire. It's a sober, impressive edifice, with a grill-like design that alludes to the martyrdom of its namesake, St. Lawrence, who was roasted on a grill. And the Monastery was given that name in honor of the Spanish victory over the French in the Battle of San Quintín in 1557, which took place on August 10th, the Feast of St. Lawrence. It's a very interesting visit and the students enjoyed it. On the way to Madrid we made a brief stop at Franco's monstrous Valley of the Fallen, a lugubrious place if ever there was one. On Saturday we took the students to Segovia and the nearby palace at La Granja. (See entry for August 18th). Then back to Madrid, more visits, and a morning in Toledo on our way back to Malaga on Monday. The Prado, as always, a joyous visit. Las Meninas never fails to move me. I can't help it, it's so beautiful, so stunning, it just leaves me speechless and all tingly. It was great fun to get to spend some time with Daniela. She has settled in nicely. She was the one leading me around on the metro. Oh, to have a country hick for a father! On Sunday evening we went to the theatre and saw a great comedy with two amazing film actresses who rarely appear on stage: Aitana Sánchez-Gijón and Maribel Verdú (That's them in the photos above.) They were both fantastic and didn't disappoint. To the contrary, I hadn't enjoyed a theatrical production so much in years. Today is one of those days when the tired expression "bathed in light" can be appropriately applied– a crystal clear morning in Malaga.