Jose (or Pepe, as he’s affectionately known), 78, tells me about when he met María, 82. “I used to work in a bar and that’s where I met María. She’d come in to see me and we chatted for a few months. Fifty-five years later, here we are, being evicted from the house we’ve called home ever since we got married.”
Bodegas Rojo, like any diamond in the rough, lies unbeknownst to many, tucked away on a residential street. Families and groups of teens walk by but few so much as throws a furtive glance its way.
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.
La cárcel de Carabanchel, Europe’s biggest and most notorious prison until its closure in 1998, was built under General Franco’s watch. Between 1940 and 1944, every wall was raised and every metal door was fitted by the same prisoners who would eventually do their time here. None dared lay a brick loosely or leave a screw untightened – this prison was a star-shaped fortress, and nobody was escaping.
In the darkest days of Spain’s financial crisis, Catalina Lescano Álvarez and a team of unemployed women from Peru and Colombia set up a little restaurant in Madrid’s Oporto neighbourhood. Going by the name of Sabores del Mundo, it was a brave and passionate project with two key objectives: to create employment for migrant women and to provide a filling meal every day to vulnerable members of the local community.