North Carolina time

Spain Andalucia region

Monday, April 19, 2010

why I only passed through Tenerife

these pictures explain why I did not spend any time in Tenerife (other than waiting for the ferry to La Gomera)
Note the high rise condos in the background of the IMO sad sailing cruise.
And the entertainer, who also appears like a sad story.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Heading home

Leaving in the morning from Vallehermosa, La Gomera. Taking the bus to the port, and then the ferry to Tenerife. Then a plane to Madrid, where I spend one night and fly out the next morning.

It has been a wonderful trip, with tremendous variety, but I am ready to be back home.

La Gomera, not a beach destination

I have been walking down to the beach almost every day. Very rocky, rough coast, dangerous to swim here, although some do. I certainly would not attempt it. There is a castle like ruin that used to house the crane that collected cargo from boats anchored off the beach. Looking at the waves I get some understanding of how difficult life has been here in the past.

La Gomera, Island scenes

Like most islands La Gomera has its own flora and microclimates. The trade winds blow over the island constantly, bathing the high peaks with a cloud forest climate, and the other side with a much drier climate and vegetation.
Familiar garden plants, but some that look completely strange.
Lots of different sedum family plants, some that look like big green roses.

La Gomera

Never been to Peru but the steep terraces and vertical volcanic spires remind me of pictures of Peru.
I have had some wonderful walks, some are quite long and push my limits. The trail guides must be written for the Germans, walks listed as easy, are quite vertical and take me about 2 more hours than described. I think I am a pretty good walker, but the inn keeper, Herman says a walk that goes up and around one valley and back down the opposite valley, he described as some doing before breakfast.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

La Gomera whistling language

On the ferry to La Gomera, the trip information was in 3 languages, Spanish, english and whistling!
Some resources on the whistling language of La Gomera

Unlike many languages this one appears to have hope of being saved, this article describes its origins and says that it is now taught in the schools on La Gomera.
Shepherds whistle while they work and brains process sounds as language

Here is a BBC sound file about the language

Compare the above to a whistled conservation from the Chinantec region of Oaxaca and Veracruz, Mexico. Article and sound files here

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


View of the Alhambra from Mirador san Nicholas, dusk with Sierra Nevada in the background

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lurking everywhere

No one has ever explained to me why the Semana Santa processions are full of partcipants wearing what we in the US recognize as the KKK uniforms. I get the connection of KKK as the inquisitors (torturers) of those whom they do not approve (to put it mildly)
but why????? are these cloaks worn in the sacred parades?

semana santa...everyone has an angle(or a dog)

People earn extra income by becoming living ¨statues¨. this guy was earning extra euros by adding the dog to the act...all the dog wanted was a tummy rub! The dog was having a wonderful time, everyone that came by gave some small coins and a nice tummy rub.
All the churches are getting ready for ¨Jesus to leave the building¨¨

Saturday, March 27, 2010

all animals are equal but some pigs are more delicious than others

I think that I have eaten more pig in the weeks that I have been in Spain than I have eaten for the past 58 years of my life.
It is so good, not salty, just perfectly flavorable.
Here is some information quoted here about this type of ham. (by the way, it is not cooked, only cured, which is perhaps the excuse for it not being allowed into the US) or perhaps the real reason is that it is so good, the word would be out and domestic ham would suffer by comparasion!
some quoted infromation here
Fresh hams are trimmed and cleaned, then stacked and covered with salt for about two weeks in order to draw off excess moisture and preserve the meat from spoiling. The salt is then washed off and the hams are hung to dry for about six months. Finally, the hams are hung in a cool, dry place for six to eighteen months, depending on the climate, as well as the size and type of ham being cured. The drying sheds (secaderos) are usually built at higher elevations, which is why the ham is called mountain ham.
The majority of Serrano hams are made from the "Landrace" breed of white pig and are not to be confused with the much more expensive and entirely different Jamón ibérico. These hams were known as a delicacy even in the days of the Roman Empire

more of Ronda

For those who are fans of the bull fight, Ronda is sacred ground. It is the oldest and because Pedro Romero was the matador who originated and perfected the techniques of fighting the bull that continue today. Here is a good article about the history of the bullfight and Perdo Romero


I rode the small bus from Ronda to Alpendeire, the bus doubled as the afternoon school bus. We had to wait at several places for the equipment that was working on the many washed out sections of the road from the recent torrential rains. This is a very small (about 200) people very tranquil and absolute quiet at night. Phil the owner of the casa that I am staying says there are still families who do not associate with other familes because they were not on the same side during the Spanish civil war. Walking around the narrow streets with tradational white plaster homes is an experience that seems timless.

I was staying at a home owned by an English man who rented a very nice room and had very detailed information on the walk I took the next day.

I would highly recommend this small, tranquil, traditional pueblito.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Highest town in Spain (and the coldest!)

Highest town in Spain
famous for ham, snow and altitude

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Ronda is high in the Serranía de Ronda Mountains and is one of the oldest settled places in Spain.
The Moors were able to use Rondaś near impregnable to keep the Catholic troops at bay until 1485, and its main attraction is the deep Tagus Gorge which splits the town.

The town of Ronda and its surrounding mountains were legendary hideouts for bandits and smugglers. The El Tajo, a 100m ravine divides Ronda into two distinct parts: La Ciudad is to the south and is the Moorish Old Town with a labyrinth of streets and alleyways.

we want the bulls brave, but not too brave

this painting is from the Murillo museum in Seville. (I am not sure who is pictured here)visited the bull ring in Seville. It is quite large and one of the most important in Spain. In the museum at the ring there was much sorrow (still!) about the death of Manolete, who was born in Cordoba and died in Linares in 1947. In the museum they had the mounted head of the MOTHER of the bull that killed Manolete. From what I was told this was done to end the line of the too brave bulls (but also, I think that the bullfighter was well loved)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

parrots of seville

thanks to Tony B for the following info.
The Monk Parakeets that I saw were originally introduced into Andalucia as escapees from collections and are now resident all the year round. You can also see them in other Andalucian cities such as Malaga. They are quite common in locations even as far north as London (!) where they are also resident all the year round.

I photogaphed these on the Columbus ship on the monument in the Murillo gardens.

dulces de la primavera

there are several sweet pastry and candy stores in Seville that take candy making to a high art, this is one of them. Note the Moorish style in architecture.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cathedral of Sevilla and the Giralda Tower

You can probably recognize that the bell tower, the Giralda Tower was once a minaret now the cathedral is built around it. You can walk up to the top of the tower. There are 34 ramps, not steps so that a horseman could ride to the top to call the faithful during Muslim times. You can see the dramatic contrast between the tower and the Gothic cathedral.
The Cathedral was begun in late 1400´s on the site of the mosque and took centuries to complete. It is the 3rd largest cathedral in the world (St. Peter´s in Rome and St. Pauls in Londong) but is the largest Gothic building in the world. It is so big that trying to photograph it is like trying to photgraph a mountain, impossible to back up far enough to get more than a fraction in a picture. The cathedral was designed by builders who state that ¨those who come after us will take us for madmen¨.
As I was walking inside the massive structure, I was thinking that something is wrong with a religion that needs to display this kind of size, ostentation, and display, but it is more about power than anything else (and of course during the inquistion this power was abused in horrific ways)
The cathedral also has the crypt of Columbus and claims to have the bones, but there is some debate about who has Chris´s actual remains. The Dominican Republic claims that he is in Santa Domingo. A forensic team compared DNA from the bones in Seville with that of the remains known to be from Columbus´s brother, Diego and supposedly there was perfect match. The Dominican Republic has not allowed the supposed remains buried there to be tested.