In Practice, Presentation on September 5, 2012 at 11:02 am
The sun is coming up and has risen high enough to spear a shaft of honey light from right to left, tinting the ridge across the valley along its length like a hot blade, and giving us some idea of the compass points in this mess of mountains.
Three valleys, in fact, are visible from our high vantage point: to our left all three converge on the little town of La Vega, far below us. The ridge is called El Angliru – a long mountain that fills our field of vision. Its upper reaches, the knife’s edge, are stony and serrated – wild highlands. The slopes below, as in the other valleys, are green and cultivated – forested here and there, and elsewhere divided by hedgerows and fences into small fields, some of them on almost sheer gradients.
We watch the moving sunlight play with shadows. It’s silent here except for the bells – down in one of the valleys an unhurried and beguiling melody is chiming out from a church, behind us the closer tinkle of cowbells as some of the locals – butter coloured bovines with big brown eyes – graze.
Tiny little towns are visible on some of the higher slopes. It all looks so picturesque – old houses or barns occupy many of the fields we can see, pocking the ripples of mountainside like crumbs in the folds of a sheet, More
In Presentation, Production on August 27, 2012 at 4:34 pm
We leave Cáceres at midday, having climbed up the cathedral’s bell tower and down into an old aljibe, or water cistern, left here by the Arabs and drive over some hard, hard country, Extremadura explaining its name to us as we pass through it. One wonders whether anything here is ever green – at any time of year – but certainly not now in high summer.
They say Ireland is like a wet sponge clinging to a rock. I say they – it was probably me. Well, this is like a baked crust. The ground is strewn with sizeable boulders and partitioned by dry stone walls. The kind of skies you only see in big country – multiple categories of cloud wisp into the distances.
I can’t resist – I put some flamenco on, reminded here of my earliest notion of Spain, born not of my first visit but long before that, of a painting my father owned that depicted a señorita standing next to a table in some makeshift tavern, her stance that of a bailaora, the hem of her dress caked in mud and dust. The impression I had was of a people who lived without finery but not without style, and for all the talk of Spain’s homogenization, for all the “we’re all Europeans now” chatter – as if being the same was a good thing – I think I can still see it. More