North Carolina time

Spain Andalucia region

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.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Seville -history and a vist to the Alcazar

Seville is more than 2,000 years old. Although it has buildings from the medieval, renaissance and baroque periods, influences from Arabic culture are profound and can be seen in the most famous monuments and places.

After successive conquests of the Roman province of Hispania Baetica by the Vandals and theVisigoths during the 5th and 6th centuries, the city was taken by the Moors in 712 and renamed de Hispalis, from which the present name "Sevilla" is derived. It was an important centre in Muslim Andalusia and it remained under Muslim control, the Almoravid empire and the Almohad dynasties, until falling to the Christian kingFernando III of Castile in 1248.

The Alcazar was built by Pedro the Cruel in the 14th centur in the Mudejar style, Remember this was well after the reconquest of Spain in 1248, but the Islamic style was preferred using the elaborate tilework, wood carving, and the complicated patterns perfected by the Muslims. Even after the Muslims were no longer employed in architecture, the elements continued to be incorporated into Spanish architecture giving it a distinctive style.

The Alcazar was used as a hospital during the Spanish civil war and because of sanitary reasons all the walls were white washed, so the walls were never restored to the brillance of the original, but still very beautiful and impressive.

Triana, mercado and around the barrio

Triana has the mercado, where lots of sping vegetables, very fresh seafood were for sale.

the first tile picture is on the front of the market, the second if front of a cafe, and the cupids melting gold are on a jewelry store.
Triana is on the other side of the river Guadalquivir from the rest of the city, very few tourists go here. Triana is named after the Roman emperor Trajan, who was born in nearby Italica.

It's the home of Seville's famous tile workshops and potteries - almost any tile you see in Seville's churches, hotels, bars and private houses will have been made here in Triana since Roman times. Many bullfighters and flamenco performers, both past and present, were born here - it was the old gitano (gypsy) quarter till the 1950s and is considered the birthplace of flamenco in Seville.

Flamenco and Sevillanas

flamenco is not thought to be of Sevillan origin. But the folksongs called Sevillanas are Sevillan, as is the four-part dance that goes with them.

Seville, and the gypsy barrio, Triana, played a large part in the development of flamenco. I saw a performance at Los Gallos at the the Plaza de Santa Cruz. Of course, I know very little of flamenco, but the performers at Los Gallos seemed very skilled and passionate about their performance. The performance lasted 2 hours, but I could have stayed for more. I had no idea how complicated the dance is. The combination of the hand, feet, fingers, guitar, plus the dancer´s feet all interact to create a dance form where each part is a subtle or bold integral part of the form.
There were no photos allowed until the very last when all the performers came together for the ultimate dance. For me this indicated a level or respect for the performers that denoted the quality of this very small, intimate venue. Each set consisted of a guitar player and 2 male singers who alternated between singing and clapping. The singing strongly recalls the sound of the Moors, mournful and passionate, almost all recalling with sadness lost love and lost times. The dancers (all female except for one male) danced the traditional 4 part flamencos, with great intensity. The look on the faces of the dancers was one of concentration and almost an ectasy of sadness and longing. The other performers seemed to be part of the ectasy of the performance with looks on their faces that seemed to be sincere in their pleasure at performing. Of course, I realize that this was a performance for visitors, but short of heading out to Triana late at night to search for a spontaneous performance, this was a great choice.