Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The writers and artists have a lovely time ...

In a campground close to Fundacion Valparaiso. German beer, sunshine, friendship.
Is this my real life?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Just another day in Spain.

We get the rental car horribly stuck (and almost go off a metre-plus drop). Hagit and Jane flag down passersby on the highway, and with the help of 12 Spaniards, the car is lifted and we carry on. FV resdient Corrie is on the far right.
This is another photo from Murcia ... Santa Semana procesion, which went on for hours.
My favourite place in Mojacar Playa is "Babel" ... a restaurant\bar (building behind ... you can also sit on the beach), where the staff are now people I call friends. I'm here with Hagit, an Israeli playwright.
Jane and I on our road trip to Cartagena, Murcia, just before we got the rental car horribly stuck.
Hagit and I in the back seat of Sven and Charlotte's Saab convertible. We cruised along the Mediterranean on the cliff-hugging roads, feeling like Sophia Loren. Spectacular day.

Vera ... Cartagena ... Murcia

Murcia is a gorgeous city ... we spent several hours here and saw the Semana Santa procession.

Pinch me. We're having lunch in Cartagena.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Someone turned up the heat.

I was on my patio for 10 minutes this morning and got a burn.(Sweet.)

The writing's starting to come.


Because of waves transmuting into molten silver.

Damp eyes flaming at the seaside window,

and the olive-skinned waiters

in their clandestine language

know you won't turn

from this arena of sorrows.

Because music is still

occasionally excellent.

(For example, the "Babel" soundtrack

has at least thrice saved you.)

Little things: down-payments on another year

or few months.

Because four or five claim to need you …

the children, your folks. And in the village,

how long before the dog would stop

nosing the morning door

for his gambol through red-berried woods?

In a hotel bed, transfixed

by the artful shadows

of palm fronds on the opposing wall.

Maybe you haven't tried hard enough.

There must be something. Clues. At times a voice

insists Step, step again, and for god's sake

keep on breathing. It's easy. Woman,

you are nothing special.

Then there was the secretary from Lincolnshire

in Granada's hammam. Ever more alone

with her single leg, she hopped from

cold pool to hot to steam, happy

with a thimble of fragrant tea.

(Later she retrieved her prosthetic leg

in a canvas bag from the front desk employee, smiling.)

Because of candlelight,

and Arabic strains at the proper volume.

Because of a goddamn towel.

Sometimes you're certain the inside is out.

Anyone can see you are missing.

-Shelley A. Leedahl

Monday, April 6, 2009

More Mojacar and FV

Yesterday I witnessed the Semana Santa procession of locals (and Jesus on a donkey) climb the mountain toward the cathedral, long palm fronds
waving. Music was provided by the local school band, with punctuation re: occasional cannon bursts.

I've also included more photos from FV, and the surrounding landscape. I climbed Mojacar La Vieja (the old, where there are ruins from the old town) to take some of these shots.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Fundacion Valparaiso

This is my writing area at FV ... my bedroom is behind, and my large patio is through the sunny door.
Part of my patio, and the view up toward the town.
The director surprised me with a birthday cake on April 2nd. There are only 7 writers\artists here, and 3 of us have birthdays in April. Bring on the cakes!

This is at the top of Mojacar Pueblo, in Plaz Nueva. There are loads of restaurants and bars here. Driving is almost impossible because of the twisting streets. The view is stunning from this point.
The original olive mill part of Fundacion Valpraiso. So cool.
This is what one sees when leaving th FV site. Again, town up on the mountain.
The landing outside my room at FV. There's art everywhere here ... inside and out.
Part of the library at FV. This is a very large retreat, like a luxury home with adobe walls and stone floors. Almond trees and nuermous types of flowers, cacti, etc. surround it. One thing I really appreciate about FV is that unlike other retreat centres -- which ask that you stick around and concentrate soley on your work -- here they actually encourage us to explore the beaches, towns, and cities.
This is (a small section of) the front of FV. When I walk to town, I pass numerous lemon and orange groves ... branches are heavy with fruit. The lemons, the lemons ...
The dining area at FV. All the artists have dinner together at 8:30 pm or so, and wine (supplied by FV) before. We can come and go for breakfast and lunch, with food supplied.
Where we sometimes drink wine and have snacks before eating.
The courtyard at FV. Often fills with sunlight.
The cacti is explosive.
My sleeping area.
Love this FV outdoor patio, which looks out to La Vieja, the mountain the old town was originally built upon. I climbed that mountain this morning, serenaded by local horses, and accompanied by rabbits.

I could write so much about this, but no tengo tiempo. (no time) I am very grateful for the opportunity to be here. It's glorious: the people, the facility, the landscape, the meals (last night we had squid in its own ink ... black). It's a 20 minute walk up a mountain to town and the internet cafes. The Sierra Madres are blue in the distance, and the ocean's a 10 minute bus ride away. All the buildings are whitewashed and the lanes are narrow and winding.

If I can possibly swing in it, I'd like to rent a place here next year ...

Hasta tarde.

Mojacar Playa

What a view of the Med from my hotel room in Mojacar Playa.

And here it is again. I arrived in Mojacar one day before my retreat was to begin, so I could have a "buffer" day, and explore a bit. So glad I did this.

This is a view from the beach. The tourist season hasn't started yet so most restaurants and hotels are empty in Mojacar Playa, but there are many British and Germans living here year round. There's a long parador along the ocean -- perfect. I was able to go for a 10k run in the morning.

I had a wonderful, solo time on the beach, including my meal in a restaurant called "Babel." Slowly the regulars trickled in -- Brits and Spanish and North African ... it felt like a family, and I was thrilled just to hover on the edge of it and watch the sun turn the Mediterranean's waves to silver.

The owner of the restaurant brought me a bottle of homemade wine. Muy amable. (very kind)

Yeah, I'm digging Mojacar Playa. Great vibe.


(I really suck at putting photos up, and have little time in this internet cafe in Mojacar, so please forgive the simple arrangement of photos and brief text.)

Above I am with fellow hostelers in the worst restaurant in Granada ... the NewZealander (my hostel roommate) and I ordered salads and couldn't eat them. (Though the olive oil is superb, made with locally grown olives.)
Very typical street in Granada.
A riverside road one can take toward the Alhambra.
Love the arhcitecture.
The living room at Makuto Backpackers Hostel in Granada.

Landscapes taken from the bus between Granada and Almeria. I love the bus.

The Alhmabra.

Moorish windows.
A view of Granada from the Alhambra.
The gardens are stunning.

Typical market, Granada.

Examples of cave houses in the Sacromonte area of Granada.

Tile art in the Alhambra.

View of the Alhmabra while walking toward it. It's huge.

Typical square in Granada. The dark and light stones are taken from the two different rivers.

Spain ... I kinda like the music, and pretty much everything else, too, though I was slow to warm to Granada.


After arriving in Malaga via Brussels, I arrived in the city of the Alhambra, and with the help of several strangers (I meet the greatest people on buses, like Jo LaCrosse, the former Belgian contemporary dancer who has toured worldwide) I miraculously found Makuto Backpackers Hostel, in the Albaycin. Wow. This party of the city climbs a mountain, and it's so easy to get lost in the zigzagging streets. Only minibuses and drivers of small cars dare traverse the cobblestoned lanes.

Think whitewashed buildings. People still living in caves in the Sacromonte area. Great cathedrals and plazas. There are loads of rasta kids in this university city. I met one at the hostel who told me he WAS Bob Marley.

After my first night of (non)sleep at the hostel, I went on a walking tour of the city, then continued walking on my own. I hooked up with other hostelers and we ate at what was very likely the worst restaurant in the city -- !que suerte! -- then went out for tapas in a standing-room-only bar. (The tapas are free with each drink ordered, and they don't skimp on them).

The Alhambra. This is why I wanted to visit Granada, as I'd learned about the Moorish palace in Art History classes, and knew it to be one of the top attractions in all of Europe. Well ... I may be the only person in history who had more fun buying a bag of salt and vinegar chips and leaving the Alhambra than I had exploring it.

Totally confusing, from the purchase of tickets to the line-ups, to ... well, you name it. And what I didn't know, is that if you accidentally take a wrong turn and leave the Palace of the Nazaries (the big draw), you can't get back in! I paid over 30 euros for the Alhambra, and spent 5 minutes in the palace. @#^*)

However, I did love the other Alhambra sites, including the gardens, the fortress, the very coliseum-ish George V palace.

By the third night I was really getting into Granada. I met some great people at the hostel, including a young Mexican and Puerto Rican married couple, and a group of us went to see a traditional flamenco show in an aqueduct, where there was only room for about 15 people. Fabulous singing, Spanish guitar, and, of course, dancing.

The absolute highlight for me, however, was the Arabian Bath, or Hammam. So glad I decided to splurge (19 euros). If low lighting; candles; a hot, medium and cold pool; a steam room; soft Arabic music; and an endless supply of exotic tea than can be enjoyed in quiet little tiled nooks throughout the Hammam appeal to you, I highly recommend this. So relaxing. Time could have stopped there and then.

I left Granada on March 31st and arrived, via bus (and pleasant conversation with Alejandro, a Spanish traveller and owner of a meat-packing company) in Almeria. Then I caught another bus and travelled north 1.5 hours to Mojacar.

!Hasta luego!