us and nature

It is a sunny morning of January and birds roam the trees in “Serra de Mariola Natural Park”. The light is gorgeous and it is hard to put the camera down and follow Virgilio Beltrán who take us around to spots were we can watch the local species. I got so entangled portraying a walnut tree that I almost lost him. We also visit a ravine were vultures were successfully reintroduced a few years ago. Magnificent and ugly birds they are! I wonder why I perceive them ugly.

“If we want to keep nature the way it was, we have to work the land the way we used to”

Joan Cascant, microvinya.com

Virgilio has a special treat for us, and we end up at Joan’s “microvinya” as part of a combined program named birds and wines. Joan is directing a program to return to the former use of the land in order to preserve the nature we received from the past. He advocates specifically for the sustainable use of minifundios (small-holds). Incidentally, a few days before, in Tarragona, my old friend Saül also explained us of his project to revive the abandoned town of Solanell in the Pyrenees. Are they the fall of small stones that starts an avalanche?

two days in Valencia

Along the streets of Valencia you can see the legacy of many architectonic styles from the gothic, renaissance, baroque, neoclassic, modernist, to bauhaus, constructivism, brutalism, and… well some things by Calatrava too.

The city seems big but not too big, modern but not too modern, opulent but not too opulent, burgeois but not too burgeois. It has it all but nothing becomes invasive. It may be that it is January, but Valencia still seems to belong to its citizens and not to the tourists. And I long with melancholy for this to stay this way, despite being an impossible act of balance in a world of seismic schockwaves of tourism.

The defensive Torres de Quart in the west-end of the old city of Valencia were made for one clear purpose. Being there you cannot help but imagine soldiers loaded with bows and quills hurrying upstairs, dropping boiling oil through the outlet above the doors, atop the towers scouting the horizon with squinted eyes under the sun of the afternoon.

The building of the Lonja de Valencia feels at the end game of commercial opulence but still displaying its former functionality: the polished by use floor tiles, twisted solomonic columns, gothic arches. A photographic feast indeed.

Tarragona and a look back

here I look back almost 50 years at the same streets, houses and windows of Tarragona were I grew up. The little park-inside-a-roundabout. Everything looks changed but not changed and certainly tiny now. The same aluminum late-60’s windowframes with possibly the same thin surviving windowpanes I looked out at the world. The same narrow walkways and small storefronts, but now mostly shut; They look like little cave entrances compared to the grandeur of nowadays’ retail-chain halls somewhere else.

The old harbour, once a row of small fishermen houses with workshops where wives tended to the blue nyon fishnets and boats docked just before the horn blew the end of the fishing day at 5 PM, is now a strolling alley decorated with fountains. Fishnets gave room to icecream and coffee shops. My uncle used to be one of about 50 fishermen captains. He had his own boat and a crew of 7. Now five boats with a crew of 2 are allowed to operate from a little corner of the harbour. Yet the same moon rise over Tarragona, come night.

Night photograph of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in the nomination "Les festes del foc del solstici d'estiu als Pirineus"

summer solstice and the pyrenees

Since time unknown celebrate the inhabitants of Isil the night of the summer solstice in a rather particular manner. To the extend that in 2015 they were, together with other 63 villages of the Pyrenees, declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in the nomination “Les festes del foc del solstici d’estiu als Pirineus”.

Cloister of the Cathedral of Roda de Isabena

the bishop’s seat and a past of “reconquista”

Build atop a rock the Cathedral of the X century and the town of Roda de Isabena are full of hints of the past struggles between Spaniards and Muslims. The Crypt could not be carved into the rock and stands exceptionally level to the floor of the hall opposite to the throne of the bishop and the stalls. An unusual view.

Street on the climb to the higher town side of Montañana, Aragón, Spain

hidden places and a past of “reconquista”

Not the place you would pass by, not even you would go there unless the sting of curiosity pulls you off the state road N230 and up the winding single line road to Montañana. Time stopped here, or you feel like being back from close orbiting a black hole for a few hours.