25 diciembre 2005

Mezquita, Córdoba

Go see it for yourself - it's amazing!!

Forgive the over-zealous Christians for the mess they made of the middle of this extra-ordinary building.

Good quality, inexpensive place to stay;


21 diciembre 2005

La canción de la semana #33

Not La Cucaracha as everybody knows it, but La Cucaracha as sung by Lila Downs. (Finally I've found the good quality audio thanks to this blog!) Check the lyrics for Victor Jara, Ché Guevara and la Junta de Naciones (United Nations).

¡Feliz Navidad y próspero Año Nuevo!


19 diciembre 2005

Spanish Diary (Part 5)

December 17th, the day we were both due to fly back to the UK, came and went. Pam is now in March but I…am still in Spain! Guess what? the builders have not finished. I'm now coming back on the 24th by the way.

It all started so well: at the beginning of November Rafael said that he would definitely be with us around mid-month…oops, make that the 30th!

Day one was great, 4 men all working like Trojans. Day two dawned bright and clear but unfortunately we had a 3-hour power cut. Day 3, it can't get any worse can it? Yep, we had a 6-hour power cut. Day 4, it rained and there was no mains water [mind you the fates hadn't noticed that we had 30 cubic meters of water in the pool so: "Nah nah ne hah nah!"] From then on things have gone much better, well could they have got much worse? The work really should be completed before Christmas…just…I hope…

Our next-door neighbour is, as we used to say, "a few pence short of a shilling". As he has no one else to talk to he just pops in, uninvited, and interrupts the builders with his ramblings. I know, I'll wait till he goes out, and then bolt the gates. Gottcha…Nope! The next thing I see is Antonio on his own roof, complete with broom, sweeping up - and interrupting the builders again! He may not be bright, but he is inventive.

We know a local singer who invited us to go to a dance where he was performing. I kid you not; it was just like the old village-hall dance of our youth…but entirely populated by wrinklies, all smooching and snogging to the slow numbers. It was a bit unnerving, talk about a blast from the past.

We've been here for about a year now, so what how is it all working out? The answer is: great. We really are having a wonderful time. The weather and the country are a bonus, but it is the people that make our stay here such a pleasure. They are so open and friendly, it's unbelievable. We have been made so welcome and their generosity of spirit is unbounded.

They will do anything to help…even if they do get a bit carried away at times. Josefina [a very sprightly 75-year-old] is very concerned that we have our car in the street during building work [a valid concern I have to say], so she offered to put our car in her barn…unfortunately it wasn't actually her barn, it was her sister's and her sister had rented it out and there wasn't really any space for my car anyway… Josefina has no children of her own so she has sort of adopted us. We have to go round and see her regularly or she gets a bit miffed. I went last night and she offered me a coffee. I thought the packet looked a bit odd so when she was out of the room I checked the use by date – 2000. "This coffee is great", I said. "Do you want another?" she asked. "Not just now thank you."

Their generosity extends to the bars as well. We happened to meet four local couples in the street and went to the bar with them. We had 4 drinks but it was literally impossible to pay for a round, even when I pressed money on the waiter it was still not accepted. Today, I went to the Women's Association Christmas meal, even though Pam had gone home. The husbands have to pay, but as Pam wasn't there they said I was having her meal so…I still couldn't pay. Contrast that with the only English couple we have met in the village. [Pam's idea not mine I assure you…] We went to the bar as arranged; they came late, sat down and waited for us to order them a drink [twice] and then looked the other way as I went up to pay. That's them off my Christmas card list…

The main reason that we have been so well accepted, of course, is Pam. She is more Andaluz than the locals; they all love her to bits. The other reason is that we both speak Spanish. None of the other English families here even try. So guess what, we have integrated and they haven't, can't, or simply don't want to. I much prefer our approach to theirs, they are missing so much.

With a bit of luck, next year we will be able to sit back and enjoy the new pool and patio but, the way things have gone so far, I'm sure that one way or another there will still be plenty of material for future Dear Diaries.

A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all.


16 diciembre 2005

La canción de la semana #32

There is quite a number of free music downloads at Amazon.com: you just have to log in as an Amazon.com customer. I'd say the choice of Spanish-language tracks (found in a dodgy Latin Music section) is rather disappointing. Still, I've got something tasty for this week's program: Marea por Los Pinguos, from the Live in Los Angeles album.


03 diciembre 2005

La canción de la semana #30

And now, for our 30th Song of the Week, something completely different: Bulerias by British-American '70s prog-rock outfit Carmen. Cool, eh?