El Parc Natural del Delta de l’Ebre

25 10 2013
Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre
Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre

The city’s yet new, but weekend nature escapes feel just right. This time, amiga Maite invites me to el Delta del Ebro, Ebre en Catalan.

I have (very) vague memories of Histories of Spain 365 with Chris. There was some mention that the Peninsula was drier than you might expect, and I’m sure there was a quiz question about the major rivers that I missed. I do remember the name Ebro, though. The etymology of Iberian derives from it.

Where fresh meets salt, the shallowest of islands are swallowed up in seagulls. The short cruise we take doesn’t swing by close enough for a proper shot of the birds, but I’m pretty sure I note a faint “Mine? Mine?” in the humid air anyway.

Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre
Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre

Post-boat, we head to Casa de Fusta, an institution in the Delta since 1926. The whole area is covered in swampy rice fields; the grains here are so renowned they actually carry their own D.O.P. to ensure the enthusiast of quality.

We split the menú de desgustación plus a few extra special entrantes between the table. The menú is a wide amalgamation of goodies from the sea, including brandada de bacalao, cigalas y sepia con cebolla y patatas, y arroz caldoso con rape y langostinos.

I’ve been promised that one may enjoy ortiguillas rebozadas – fried anemone – in this area, and so request it. They’re the mysterious breaded gooballs pictured above. Ñam!

Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre
Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre

The terrain here is so flat that people build lookout points to be able to take a proper survey. There are 316 species of birds that make the Delta their home. Elongated necks and beaks can be seen picking about the fields from up here for kilometers.

Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre
Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre

Post-rice feast, we take a much needed long walk on Playa de la Marquesa.

Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre
Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre

Sea to one side, rice to the other, and this tiny strip of sand in between.

Parc Natural del Delta de l'Ebre

Weekends are just so much longer this way.





No Man’s Art – Fotopost

9 03 2013

It’s spring, it’s here, I’m calling it. There’s the usual culprits, so much rain and genuine licks of sunlight, and that old onion we planted in the windowsill is actually honest-to-god sprouting. And I’m out, taking the pulse of the city, finding it still alive, we’re still here, estamos vivos, parece. Me too.

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No man’s art next door. An invitation to climb into the insistent sky.

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Wholesale mannequin parade. Readymade framing. Coiffed and poised.





Cahorros, Granada, and Resilience

9 02 2013

In my continued lack of ability to spend even one weekend available in Madrid, last Friday I hopped a bus to Granada to see great friend and ex-housemate David. His company in Madrid declared bankruptcy several months back, and he’s moving to Chile in a few weeks to seek his fortune as a university professor. I know he’ll find success anywhere, but damn do I wish it could have been here. Santiago’s tougher to impulsively access than Andalucía.

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It was my fourth time visiting Granada, which meant no pesky obligations to See the Sights. The highlight was a morning walk through Cahorros de Monachil, a simple route marked by the occasionally ultra-skinny paths with exaggeratedly low clearance. My miniature frame was built for Cahorros, and I found glee gnoming my way around the rock overhangs.

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I shudder in the wake of David’s impending move. It isn’t just that my current closest friend in the city is moving on, although that’s certainly a cinematically appropriate motif (see: Heather, Alexandra, Sevi, James, Sean. y’all reading? miss. <3). Like all such nagging undercurrents of melencholia, this one has multiple roots. The homestretch of wintertime is one, I know. Ditto yet another year as an English auxiliar, which I find rewarding in a few ways but terribly restricting in others.

I keep circling around the verb to invest, attempting to clarify just what it is that merits meaningful deposits, along with how that might be done. How do I act on the micro level of the present such that it supports a macro level image of the future? Because my premonitions are big (huge), I refuse to downsize, refuse to settle. However, this kind of massive payout simply doesn’t result from getting cozy.

One recent struggle has been with the idea of being alone versus acting as a lone agent. It’s not easy for me to get interpersonally vulnerable, even though I do see that there’s much value that can come out of such a state. I keep flirting with it, possibly to my own detriment. I feel swallowed up by the intensity of emotions set free, by allowing felt truth its full and natural space. The response ought not be to withdraw, I’m convinced, even though it’s admittedly my primary impulse. Rather, the aim is resilience.

Dynamicism (I don’t care that that word doesn’t seem to mean what I wish it meant. You get me.) used to be my rallying call, embracing curly-haired chaos by its golden locks, a holographic double rainbow whirling dervish, reveling in the unpredictable intensity of both the pain and the glory. That lustful seed’s always been within me, cultivated by Bangkok and imported to Madrid. I do treasure it, but I no longer identify with it, and I think that’s why it’s felt so achingly empty as of late when I overhear myself chanting refrains more hollow than hallowed.

Springiness, malleability, flexibility, adaptability. Indefatigability. Intestinal fortitude, dammit. Moxie. Guts. The truth will not swallow me, no. I will cook truth over open flame for dinner, accompany it with a bottle of Bierzo, beam it out from my glossy painted fingernails. Time and truth combined are a resource more precious than any other, and I’m lucky enough to have both in spades. These are what I will invest. Watch me take them and run.





Fotopost: Moinhos on the Road from Oporto to Vigo

13 05 2012


One last public transport groove in the full embrace of the sun.


The clouds love us too, as does the sea.


Not to mention the well-timed affection of meteorological phenomena.


May every journey be so blessed with moinhos.

We are between places, we are no-place, we belong here, we are walking dreaming.





El Rastro: Photojaunt Meetup

6 05 2012

OKCupid’s overdone, intercambios are insipid, and you’re seriously cansada de Couchsurfing? Meetups are one solution. Folks of all ages and origins rally around shared interests, a proposal which manages to simply and swiftly avoid attracting the typical monochromic backpacking/expat crowd. My own meetup inauguration comes in the form of a photography scavenger hunt proposed around a Rastro afternoon. A prize is promised. I’m in.

We’re about a dozen that gather in Tirso de Molina at noon, the majority of necks slung proud with elaborate SLR electronics. My beat-up point-and-shoot Canon S90 is at the ready, though, and I all but ignore the proffered hunting list in favor of snapping a few choice frames in my own style.

Weary white tees in contrast to persistent yellow facades in contrast to struggling blue spring skies.

I got yelled at for this one. It’s true, I took it so I could copy the designs for personal profit.

Deals everywhere.

If you’ve got the time, they’ve got the heel.

I think this elegant guy works here – he looked to be sorting the records.

Sweet.

Gitanerias. Piles of books and records and postcards abound in El Rastro – discarded media from a different age.

What the gastronomically inclined did pre-internet.

The butt end of El Rastro, in a plaza near Puerta de Toledo. We’re talking serious opportunities here, ripe for hardcore combers and bargainers of all variety. I may have negotiated a capricho or two.

Afterwards, cheapo eats and drinks at 100 Montaditos, plus travel tips, official photo judging, and cell number exchanges. I didn’t win, but neither did I lose.





Fotopost: Birkenfeld, Germany

3 02 2012

Friend Sevi invites me and two other amigos to her home in Birkenfeld, Germany one January weekend. Fireplace and food is promised.

Birkenfeld is teeny, but the house is sprawling and immaculate.

The white sea of walls is frequently interrupted by a spectrum of oil paints and book spines.

This is a place apart, a world unto itself.

Magic abounds here, whether in the form of glittering golden crowns —

— or German bread breakfast. Salty croissants pair best with avocado, cool sliced cucumber, and tomato-pesto tapenade.

We are at ease here. Everyone settles into their element. Morning light floods gently over crisp country air; we bask and read, stirring little.

Until the beat strikes us, of course.

Adventure out means a Trier afternoon. The sun loves us.

And we love it right back.

Dining is organic, a take on ratatouille with polenta bathed in thick, tart tomato.

Trier is pleasingly German in architecture, a breath of fresh Deutsch air away from Spanish aesthetics.

The town cathedral is appropriately, imposingly gothic.

The outing is capped by ice cream sundaes and iPhones. We deal with it.

Our hosts are as generous as they are photogenic. We can’t stop thanking them for their overwhelming kindness shown in not only opening their home to us, but tending to our every possible detailed need —

— such as smiley face crepes in the morning.

A jaunt around Birkenfeld is sleepy, chatty, and intriguing in a distinctly small-town-Germany way. Sevi insists there’s naught to be seen, but each coat of paint on wrought iron grating is new to us.

There’s a quiet retro-beauty here, old and calm, far from glamorous. To call it quaint would diminish; we find it comfortable. It’s an escape, an invitation into an unagitated life for the briefest of stays.

We have a beer, or two, because it’s Germany and we must.





Madrid, as of late: Fotopost

25 01 2012

Plaza Santa Ana photo expo in the afternoon sun.

Dada on c/ Bernardo López.

Partial inhabitant of barrio Conde Duque.

One of the city’s variety of authors.