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One of my unfailing delights of living in Spain, undiminished after 17 years, is the spectacular and varied range of its landscapes and natural beauty. Crammed into the roughly five hundred thousand square kilometres of its bull-hide shaped geography, one goes from the dazzling white villages of the south with immense vistas of olive plantations, red earth under a diamond-hard blue sky, to the vast wheat plains of Castile
Ten a.m. at Madrid’s Estación de las Delicias: a goods train, the Strawberry Train, is about to set off. In the 1850’s the train was the subject of much talk and excitement, described and romanticised by chronicles, poets and journalists. It carried the Royalty and their guests on hunting trips from Atocha station right up to the portals of the Royal Palace in Aranjuez. On their return to Madrid the local borough would present them with asparagus and strawberries and in commemoration of this tradition the hostesses today pass around baskets of strawberries to the tourists on the Tren de la Fresa
When we arrived in Spain. . ., I had the basics. I was able to say Tengo sed [I'm thirsty] and Tengo hambre [I'm hungry], thereby ensuring that we would neither starve nor die of thirst.
In spring, the almond blossom competes in brilliance against the snow-crested peaks beyond. Suddenly, like a pencil line sharply delimiting the green lushness of this veritable oasis, the earth turns ochre-arid, supporting only the hardy olive. This is the presence and imagery that permeates the verse of its best-loved son and barb, Federico García Lorca: the viento verde of the undulating corn, long solitary walks through melancholy rain-filled afternoons, y el fondo un campo de nieve…home of the poet.
The silence is heavy with the presence of so much life in this household, by all accounts filled with voices, laughter and music. What conversations did Federico enjoy here with his sisters and his musical and literary friends? The poet himself was an accomplished pianist and Manuel de Falla was certainly among the most assiduous visitors here. There is the unavoidable feeling that everyone has stepped out, and will be back in a few minutes.
A unique, rivetting, witty, and even hilarious account of the historic days immediately following the end of the 8-year negotiation for Spain's membership in the European Common Market: “It was difficult and freakish work.”
Conchita Burman on 17 February 1987: "During the last ten years, Carnival festivities banned under the Franco regime have been revived in Spain. Now it is greatly and widely celebrated; almost every city, town or village celebrates Carnival"
Santa Agueda in her fight for liberty might be considered an early exponent of women’s rights. The small village of Zamarramala for a couple of days in February follows her example. It is a unique Spanish celebration in a nation full of tradition.
Paco de Lucia: “My music has always been cornered in Andalucia, without prestige, even in Spain itself. For many centuries it was thought of simply as gypsy music, from a people without a social class. As a representative of my music I feel I have an obligation to share it, so that everyone will recognize its value and know its worth… This is what I fight for, and why I work, not for money or to be a star.”
Fame is not what Paco de Lucia is looking for, he says. "It ties you up and takes away. . . an indefinable freshness out of your life.” It's bothersome when people recognize him in the streets, though “at first there is a time when vanity makes you like it. . .”