Monday, August 31, 2015

 

Bullfighting on Horseback

Bullfighters on horseback, the Spanish rejoneadores. This was the offer on Saturday 30th August, the last day of a six-day bullfight festival in Almería. the top picture is of the alguaciles, who keep the Law. The second picture shows the three rejoneadores - Hermoso de Mendoza, Leonardo Hernández and the Frenchwoman Lea Vicens. One of the cuadrilla is in the third photo. The rest are pictures taken during the corrida.





Like most people who have lived here a long time (!), I have always been tolerant of bullfighting. I went to see one or two over my time, here and there, even including one with the 'Mojácar Bullfight Club' in a small town in Granada called Huescar a few years back. They managed to fill a bus with Englishmen for the rumble.
Later, as my conversational Spanish improved, I spent more time with Spanish friends. I would become accustomed to joining them sometimes in a bar over a whisky to watch the toros on the television. Among the group, an artist and a writer - both good friends of mine - would gossip with one eye on the corrida above, while occasionally shouting 'olé' or 'get tha fuck outta here' as necessary.
Since my wife died last year, I've been helped a lot by another Spanish friend, whose father was a famous bullfighter called Antonio Bienvenida. I've heard some of the stories.
These days, I move pretty much in a Spanish circle, my companion is Spanish and, like her friends, she goes sometimes to bullfights. I've been to three in the past year. I could claim that bullfighting is cruel and stay home and sulk, I suppose, but that would be silly.
In reality - notwithstanding the British view on Los Toros - no one goes to see them suffer. We go to see the skill, the art, the bravery and the excitement. No one, no one, likes to see an animal die. But it has to be part of the spectacle. The Spanish contrast the four years living on la dehesa (a huge open farm) and a brave death, versus nine months in a cage and a bolt through the forehead for a normal meat animal.
I can understand the point of view of a vegan - they are at least consistent - but a Briton who knows next to nothing about Spain, about her culture, her language, her history, her politics and her family-relationships, and yet likes his steak and chips - is hardly the right person to lecture me on the morality of la tauromaquia.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

 

Senés, the slate village of Almería

Back in Senés - a small village in the hills behind Tabernas. The pueblo uses slate for its construction rather than brick or tiles. Senés has its Moors and Christians festival this weekend, and here's a few pictures.









Tuesday, August 04, 2015

 

August on a Half Shell

Driving home after a beer on the beach. I'd hoped for one in the pueblo, but there was no parking left: at 8.00pm. Why not build public parking Mrs Mayor, more parking means more cars means more customers. Who knows, even residents. 
There's a bar in the village, says they make their money from tourism. It's a pretty place, open all year long and run by residents - not those people who open for a couple of months during the high season then fuck off away for the rest of the year. Proper residents they are, with an interest in the village. I reckon I must have spent about 10,000€ in that bar over a lifetime of drinking. I'd like to see the tourist who could match that.
So, the beach. Lots of traffic but the bar I went to, on a side street, was pretty quiet. Some fellow was out last night with a shotgun (or a pellet gun, you know how we exaggerate) and he fired both barrels at a group of people waiting to get into (or out of) a discotheque at five in the morning. So, more police I expect. I drank my beer, ate a tapa and came home again. 
Our road is interesting: no street sign, no pavement, no pedestrians, hardly any houses (there are fourteen), but 59 street lamps, put up just days before the election. Thirteen of the home-owners are against the street lights, the last one on the line is, apparently, in favour of them - although he will have noticed the alarming increase in the moth population. 
Mojácar in August: tourism is in full flood and the cash-registers are ringing. Unemployment is down as summer jobs abound. There are warm queues outside each cash-point (most now charging two euros or more for non-account holders) and gangs of youths wandering up and down our one (one!) street and occasionally being sick in the flower beds. Many of the residents have given up the unequal struggle and either stay quietly at home, panting in the heat, or else they have left for a visit to their countries of birth. Festivals, smoke, noise, music, crowds and – above all – profit. 
September is still a month away...


Thursday, July 30, 2015

 

The Hatred is Strong in this One, Luke

Goodness, the fuss about a lion.
I have a Facebook account which serves me a regular dose of people's thoughts, opinions, photographs and convictions, strongly spiced with nobility, beauty, wonder, politics, racism, hatred and stupidity. Much, perhaps, like anyone else's Facebook page. I have taken to removing ('unfriending') some of the worst posters, who lean towards the negative over the positive. So, rather than talk about those people who post beauty, useful information, home-pictures, friends, music, jokes or funny videos, I should like to comment briefly on those others who like to post pictures of dead or suffering animals ('animal porn'), or find and support ignorant racist cant from Stormfront or Britain First, or who choose teasers which are solely designed to bring the reader to a separate page often dripping with viruses (known, apparently, as 'clickbait'), together with those with aggressive opinions (often from the vegans, or that unfunny comedian Ricky Gervais) or other posters who have an agenda - not to be against something, but to be against someone else being either indifferent or - worse still - in favour (bullfight pictures from the anti-taurinos - yawn!).
If you believe that shit, go and do something about it. Don't just post a picture of a baby seal being squished by a baseball bat just to ruin my morning trawl through the Facebook over breakfast; why not go and buy a fucking airplane ticket to Canada? And while you are at it, seated on the plane perhaps wondering how you are going to persuade a team of highly-unpleasant seal-killers, or dolphin-slayers, or dog-eaters, or bullfight-enthusiasts  or even some fucking Zulu with a huge cheque hidden in his jockstrap hauling along an idiot American hunter with a bow n' arrow (for Christ's sake), just consider that the rest of us are not impressed by your thirst for revenge, your call for vigilantism or your support for public lynching, all from your own home and in the knowledge that you will never be called out. These kind of posts don't make you strong, or clever, or (God forbid) attractive. They make you ugly.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

 

Some Pictures from Delfos


Delfos is a art and antique gallery on the Mojácar/Turre road, a place where you can get a drink, enjoy some music and paintings in a peaceful setting. The locale is huge, an old cortijo expanded and converted with a remarkable selection of regularly updated exhibits. Mariano, who runs the Delfos, is a true mercader - make him an offer...
Here's the web-page: delfosmojacar.com
 








Wednesday, July 22, 2015

 

Old Tee-shirts

It's surely tee-shirt weather. It's so hot this month ('breaking records' hot) that I have been suffering from two or even three tee-shirt nights. A revolving fan, the window open once it's gone dark, a cold shower and a few beers for dinner - it's still so hot that the tee-shirts are wringing wet after an hour or two of tossing in the bed.
I have some favourite tees. Like many of us, they were collected as souvenirs from different visits, situations, experiences and, of course concerts. Wow, is that a genuine Rolling Stones 1984 Eel Pie Island concert they ask, adoringly. Heh heh, yes, I was there. It was like this see...
But the moths get at them and the sweat makes them rot. After a while, the neck gets baggy and you leave them, half forgotten, on the shelf in the bathroom and then a funny thing happens. The Tee-shirt Fairy takes them. 
I never knew how many of my favourite tee-shirts had disappeared over the years. Ohh, that green one with uh, the flying saucer and the cows. My old Entertainer one which, truth to admit, was a fraction small, showed a bit of my stomach if I stood up straight. Damn, and the one from Gibraltar I got into a fight about..
The Tee-shirt Fairy had taken them all.
Then one day, while looking under the sink to find a cloth to wipe up some mess before my wife found it, I happened on a huge clump of old, torn and unloved tee-shirts. That's where they go. You know, a few of them were savable...


Thursday, July 02, 2015

 

Mojácar was an Artists Town

Mojácar was 'discovered' by artists. Until the 1950s, there was little to be said about the town. It had fallen into obscurity and there were few people left. The population was numbered in the hundreds and the rest had gone away, either in search of work, or through political problems following the Civil War. A film crew descended on the village in 1953 and shot part of 'Sierra Maldita' (short video here. Mojácar appears from Minute 3). There was no road to the village in those days, and the crew parked in the river-bed below and mounted the hill on donkeys.
The village was in ruins. Those who left would disassemble their homes, selling the iron rejas, the beams, lintels and woodwork. There would have been no chance to sell the house, no takers. An abandoned home in those days was a ruin open to the elements.
The artists came during that decade, a group from Almería who called themselves 'Los Indalianos', after the Almerian Saint Indalecio. They found a local totem here, the little Mojácar man, an inspiration to any self-respecting artist, and so named it after themselves, and that's how 'El Indalo' was born. They painted portraits of the local people, paintings of the town and the sierras, and were inspired by the light, the landscape and, I think, the poverty.Their art can be seen in the Doña Pakyta museum in Almería (where the Rambla and the Paseo meet) and is well worth the visit. The Mojácar Town Hall owns no examples of the Indalianos, and has no interest in the subject. Indeed, in the museum in Almería, there is no mention of Mojácar and the 'Indalo' is credited as a totem from Vélez Blanco (yet, in the enormously detailed 27 volume Espasa Calpe encyclopedia of 1920 - there's a set at La Voz de Almería - there's no mention of 'Indalo').
Then came the foreign artists and their companions. Apart from Jacinto Alarcón, mayor during the final Franco years who gave land or ruins to those foreigners who agreed to repair of fix them, little notice was taken of these settlers who brought in the money that began to make the local people wealthy.
Today, we have a remarkably ugly 'municipal art gallery' which shows exhibitions in a desultory way. No one goes. The artists themselves have largely chosen more welcoming villages in the sierras, as these days, Mojácar prefers tourists.


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