What Lies Between the Yellow Lines of Andalucia

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        In Andalucia I am alive. I am closer to the rich red Earth when I pick the olives and the oranges from the trees and when I watch the glowing sun go down behind the Eucalyptus trees and the tumbling hills. Everything including life seems simpler here when I drive by the horses in the arid fields and more magical when I hear the dresses and the dance of the women and the song and the voices of the men. Be careful because a trip down here could turn your dreams on your head, could make you loose your heart and throw riches to the wind for love and simple pleasures. I gaze at the little white washed towns. I gaze at the tanned strong men with dark hair, dark eyes and mysterious ways taking their well groomed stallions with shinning fur and plated mains down to the village fair and all I can do is watch and long to run away from my comforts, money and possessions and leave it all behind to spend a life in the arms of a raggle-taggle gypsy-o.

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Indeed each little community, each little cluster of white houses could be an ideal setting for such a love story, or the inspiration behind such a scandalous and romantic love song. This field was where they lay, and that horse was the one that the Lord used when he rode out to try to get her to come back to her servants and goose feathered bed. The little church overlooking the sea of the a fisherman’s village El Terron where we had lunch could have been the place that they got married one warm summer’s night, in secret, witnessed only by the stars and the gaze of moon.

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Those are all the things which rush through my mind as we travel deeper into the countryside. But who really knows what lies behind those low houses with tiled porches and barred windows? And what life fills the gap between the yellow lines framing both humble and noble buildings alike?

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Are these lines an attempt by men to bring some order to a life otherwise determined by God, or are they just a way of marking where order ends and where the passions of the human spirit begin?

Wearing

White top – SALSA JEANS

White shorts – BAY

Wedge Flip Flops – GUESS

Raggle Taggle Gypsy-O is a famous Scottish folk song which I came to know through the Walking Wounded ‘s (Hackney) version of it. It has come to be one of my favorite songs 🙂

Click For more my post and photos of Seville – Colores de Sevilla

Click For my photos and post of my trip to the Sierra of Huelva

Click For more pictures of my Andalucian inspired outfit

The Grotesque Wonderland of Las Fallas de Valencia

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I followed the white rabbit and here I am Valencia’s own Grotesque Wonderland. Funny and full of color, the imagination towers and looms above the heads of the people crowding below. Creatures from children’s books, dreams and fantastical lands. Princess, flowers, beauty and elegance.

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Everywhere there are lights, like thousands of worms, flickering in the night. Explosions in the sky, and thousands of stars trickle down, showering the river in gold.

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All that is beautiful and good in the world, is here, brighter than usual and larger than life. There is the Eiffel tower, Paris in all its glory and at the end, in a blaze of color, a couple in black and white dancing. Is it right for people to have taken the world, created by God or by chance and made it so much better? My neck aches and my eyes drink in the wonders. This is real and I still can’t believe it.

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Beautiful girls and women walk around the city with flowers. Their journey has been long. From all four corners they have come and with their flowers the dress of the Virgin Mary takes shape. She is protective and oh so beautiful! Red and white, red and white, the fabric is lush and fragrant. It cascades down, like nature’s own velvet waterfall.

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But beware, in a world where there is good and joy, there must also be evil. The sky is getting darker and eyes grow colder. The light goes down and then we see. We see the Devils, the imps and the monsters satirically laughing and leering at us. Faces become menacing and reproachful.

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Thunder and lightning. We hide behind others. Here they come, they approach. Their tails flick, their ears are red, like the color of the fire which they spit and twirl. The noises are terrible, loud bangs, my ears will explode and so will my heart.

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The whisper goes round. It is time. The jury have given their verdict. It is time. The condemned stand stone still, the plebs stand greedily close. The fuses are light. The beauty, the ugliness, nothing is exempt. We have created, we can destroy. Today, if only today, we are the Gods of this Earth.

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It begins. One by one, they fall. We watch in horror and awe. Our faces are scotched by the heat. Shrieks and creaks, hands reach up out of the flames. Mercy they cry. But tonight, they will get none. The fire fills the plaza and licks dangerously close to houses and great buildings.

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The dream and the nightmare are over, reduced to ash and when I wake up nothing is left.

Las Fallas is a traditional celebration held in Valencia to commemorate Saint Joseph. Each neighborhood of the city has an organized group of people, the Casal faller, that works all year long holding fundraising parties and dinners, usually featuring the famous dish, paella, a specialty of the region. Each casal faller produces a construction known as a falla which is eventually burnt. The fallas are constructed according to an agreed upon theme that has traditionally been, and continues to be, a satirical jab at anything or anyone who draws the attention of the critical eyes of the falleros—the celebrants themselves.

The five days and nights of Falles are a continuous party. There are a multitude of processions: historical, religious such as the offering of the flowers to the Virgin Mary and comical. Crowds in the restaurants spill out into the streets. Explosions can be heard all day long and sporadically through the night. Huge firework displays, the fire parade, la Mascleta and the burning are just a few of the highlights of this extraordinary festival. 

Gaudi, Picasso…in Barcelona we all become ledgends

It is strange, seldom when you live in a city do you fully appreciate it for the things which the tourist fly thousands of miles to see. How many times do you venture to Westminster to admire the Houses of Parliament? Or do you make the trip up the hill to see the Sacre Coeur and the great vistas of Paris which the Cathedral enjoys? As a New Yorker do you venture up the Empire State Building often? Or make your way to the Great Wall if you live in Beijing?Playing, shopping,competing, partying, sleeping. Dramas and laughter. Sometimes a city is just a frame for the bigger picture,friends, networks and communities- invisible to the world and to Google.We engulf ourselves in humanity and the everyday. Are we mistaken to do this and do we lack culture and appreciation? Indeed, home is where the heart is, so I will start off with what made my heart beat stronger and what fueled my passions and my rages in this city of sun, dust and wine.

Barcelona. Countless parties, countless faces and memories. Some fade and yet others never will. I miss it and yet as it is part of me I will take it wherever I go. I remember the Hard Rock Cafe and the flocks of people when leaving the Nou Camp. Godo, Barcelona’s tennis open where a famous tennis player asked me out. Chupito, the shot bar, where we would order the “Monica Lewinsky” for the most extroverted ones of our group.The face of the tennis academy owner when he walked into the nightclub Shoko and saw 28 of his underage pupils dancing on the bar and

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Our beach parties, the Starbucks in Plaza Catalunya and the L95, the bus which we would wait hours for and curse when we had missed the last one after a night out. Port Olympic and its tiny English cinema – the only place to watch a film for the first 6 months for lack of language. El Bosc de les Fades, the fairytale wood, a bar decorated to look like an enchanted forest.

La Obeja Negra, the black sheep – sangria and pop corn, a fantastic mix. I remember the blue of the sky and the red of the Earth, the heat and the dry palm trees. The leathers and the dark browns, the dark hair. The loudness of the voices and the smells of the drains. Las Ramblas, magical, alive with birds, portraits and grotesque statues.

My firs trip to the magnificent mind blowing Parc Guele designed by Gaudi, when we raced each other up the stairs to the top. When we almost got run over crossing the boulevard Paseig de Gracia and the Ronaldinho look alikes who played tricks with a football along las Ramblas.

Late nights and excruciating hangovers. The Gothic quarter, and the beautiful woman who sang or maybe still sings in the square. The courtyards, and the great tapas restaurant which we found when we got lost trying to find the Picasso Museum.

Four years, and not once inside the Sagrada Familia and not once to Montjuic. Once to Plaza Espana, on a date to see the sun set and the waterfalls change color. What I would give now to see inside that Cathedral, now that I am more than 1,000 miles away. We have returned now, to see what we have missed.

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