At 94, Abuelo’s physical health is enviable to many who are decades younger. These days, his biggest health worry is not coronavirus-related, but that “estas piernas se me están resistiendo”.
Zoom out of Madrid on Google satellite view and red clusters begin to emerge. Between grey, gridded avenues and barren parks, see clusters of winding narrow streets with red roof tiles and tiny plazas, which were once independent towns with their own culture, economy and architecture. Today, even though they lie well within the city limits of Madrid, they remain different.
A year ago, my photo series of 100 of Madrid’s no-frills bars reignited the nation’s love for a time-honoured aspect of Spanish culture, but around 20 of these no-frills bars are actually Chinese-owned.
This summer, children living in Sector 6 of the Cañada Real (Europe’s largest shanty town, just a 15-minute drive from Madrid) were given disposable cameras by photographer Carlos Gutiérrez, who asked them to take pictures of their day-to-day lives.
For more than half a century, residents have been arriving and building makeshift homes along this ancient north-south cattle trail, which curves southbound around the outskirts of the city – now parallel to the M-50 motorway.
Around 150 people are currently sleeping rough on Paseo del Prado. Since February this year, a homeless community of activists have been camping out on one of Spain’s most prestigious streets in protest for visibility, safety, security and access to affordable housing, and to end all homelessness in Spain.
Welcome to an old outpost of the Spanish Empire, and the battlefield of the Forgotten War.
Spain’s first McDonald’s opened in 1981, replacing an old jeweller’s on Gran Vía. Many predicted that this gran hamburguesería would be the beginning of the end of Madrid as we knew it. And they were right.
Secret gay nightclubs and bars were opening right under Franco’s nose and the cornerstones of Chueca’s infamous nightlife were being laid. By the time the dictator died, in 1975, Spain’s marginalised communities were already organised and ready to begin the countrywide fight for freedom of expression.
What the lateros are doing is illegal and there are police everywhere. If they’re caught selling beer, their stock, which they purchased themselves, will be confiscated. But, for the tin men, it’s worth the risk.