Showing posts with label Don Quixote. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Don Quixote. Show all posts

Monday, December 31, 2018

A Sojourn of THE DREAM

Can it be we have arrived back to where we began? It feels as though a thousand suns have risen and set; not the sixty we experienced.

Amy and I began our sojourn exotically enough in Oaxaca, Mexico during the peculiar celebration called Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Dancing skeletons, candles in cemetaries, masks and music on the street all began us in a sojourn of THE DREAM.

Next, Mexico City brought us face to face with Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Streets teemed with moving masses of humanity, rather childlike . . . even as little boys strummed guitars for endless hours gathering small change from tips. We found fake money in our wallets that local people spotted right away and refused to take.

Onward to Granada, Spain, in the “Old World.” Alhambra and its exquisite moorish castle perched above the city looked over to Sacromonte flamenco caves where every evening plaintive guitars, singing, stomping feet and castanets held forth.

Don Quixote, by Miguel Cervantes, entertained us each night before sleep. We read his knight-errant quests with his squire Sancho Panza, and attack upon windmills that he thought to be giants . . . then we visited the windmills, set high on a hill above a sleepy town called Consuegra.

Our rental car took us through seemingly endless landscape of olive trees to Cordoba, another famous Spanish city. I took plenty of photos of Andalusian horses and riders of the equestrian shows there.

We arrived by chance to Ronda and found it entrancing . . . so much so that Orson Welles chose to have his ashes thrown over the grounds . . . not far from the famous bull ring where Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso took in the action.

At Gibraltar, on a Mediterranean beach under the famous ROCK looming nearby, Amy collected tiny seashells strewn on the shore. A short boat ride across the sea and Morocco captivated us with spices, veiled women, donkeys, sheep, hashish, and ubiquitous mosques calling to prayer five times daily. Chefchaouen and its blue walls painted poetry all around us in the Atlas Mountains. By taxi we reached Fes and found ourselves living in a mansion with courtyard in a labyrinth old town surrounded by thousand year old wall. A modern train ride to Tangier gave us respite from the chaotic grit and grime of street life and quickly we fell under the same spell that bound the beat poets and writers.

Back in Spain we rented a car again and found a hotel in Seville, then an apartment in the old walled part of Toledo where vehicles aren’t allowed. Narrow cobbled passages lead from church to church, castle to castle, with shops lining each side. El Greco spoke to us through his portraits from the sixteenth century in his own museum.

At last Madrid and an apartment for a week one block away from Plaza de Espagna. There is found Don Quixote and Sancho Panza—at a monument with Cervantes himself looking over them. Every day we ambled among masterpieces of art in museums Madrid is famous for. These artworks celebrate THE DREAM in all its facets. And now we are far richer for the adventures it has offered us.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Windmills To Vanquish

After leaving cosmopolitan Granada, Spain, Amy and I have gone north. Every night in bed we read from Don Quixote, written by Miguel de Cervantes in 1605 - 1615. “The story follows the adventures of a noble (hidalgo) named Alonso Quixano who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his sanity and decides to become a knight-errant(caballero andante), reviving chivalry and serving his country, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who often employs a unique, earthy wit in dealing with Don Quixote's rhetorical orations on antiquated knighthood. Don Quixote, in the first part of the book, does not see the world for what it is and prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story.” (Wikipedia). How appropriate that I have also followed in his footsteps—referring to my life as THE DREAM. Amy is totally with me, so we have gone searching for windmills to vanquish, and found them.

Our first stop was Baeza. In the two days we stayed there we saw hardly a soul. Some if its streets are a thousand years old and the town is so preserved with antiquity that in 2003 it was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites.It seemed we were in a movie, with a stage set in the renaissance and all the actors were gone.

Heading north again, following road instructions on Google Maps, we immediately found ourselves amidst immense tracts of olive orchards. Both of us were amazed at countless olive trees in neat rows as far as we could see. They sometimes overtook entire mountains; marching up one side and down the other. At one point, a gleaming golden wall caught my eye in passing. It was shrouded on a hillside not far off, amidst trees. I knew from my previous trips to Andalusia that there are many deserted estates. “Oh, I want to explore!” I said. Amy replied, “Well stop and turn around.” We found a little road and it was slick with mud in places. Adventure called and I managed to get to a dry place and stop, almost entirely confidant I could get us out again. We walked in wet grass and slippery clay to get to the place.

I felt such excitement and nostalgia too. The walls were holding up but the roofs were caved in and gone. Rubble filled the inside but I found a way in. Just then the sun came out from behind clouds and I felt the grand nature of the place as it once was. I took pictures as Amy sat  pondering by an old well. When we reached our car we were both covered in clumps and splatters of white clay. “Oh well, “ I said as we drove out, “it was worth it.”

Now we are in Consuegra, Spain. Our flat is spacious but does not seem to get warm enough. Our first excitement was to find the windmills that stand on a hilltop next to a castle built circa 1183 overlooking the town. Amy and I imagine these are the mills that Don Quixote took to be giants and charged at on horse with his lance intent on doing battle—heedless of the entreaties of his squire Sancho Panza that he was only fighting windmills.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Thick Of Tradition

Until death it is all life”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

Now that we are in Spain, a curious ritual has arrived unexpectedly. In bed at night in our quaint apartment tucked on a hillside along a stream we read to each other Don Quixote of La Mancha, by Miguel Cervantes, (Spanish, 29 September 1547 (assumed) – 22 April 1616). At separate times in our youth both of us attempted reading the famous work from the Spanish Golden Age of literature but were daunted by its idiosyncrasies. Now in the land of its birth and on our own Quixotic journey of sorts, chasing windmills of our imaginations, we feel the pathos and understand the humor—exclaiming out loud and laughing with one another. When lights go out we continue to adventure side by side in dreamland.

Our first sojourn as a couple in the Old World begins in Granada. Years ago I lived here briefly and liked the part of the city called Sacromonte. It is best known for the flamenco venues. Caves in the mountainside are home to troupes of dancers and musicians. We will go tomorrow night and be in the thick of tradition. I am taking Amy to the same cave I experienced earlier. It is a narrow room with whitewashed earth walls and wood plank runway down the middle. The audience sit on either side within touching distance of the flamenco dancers as they strut and twirl to the strident notes of the musicians just behind them.

My fair lady Amalia de Córdova of Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico USA is wounded but carrying on gallantly as a woman of high lineage does. Before we left Mexico City less than a week ago, she was bitten by bed bugs. Maybe I was bitten too, but it had no effect. Our hotel was highly rated and we were pleased, yet I saw a bug on the bed our last morning and killed it, thinking nothing much about it. When we arrived to Europe after a long trip, Amy had inflamed bites on her chest, back and neck. It got worse. The red circles around the bite centers expanded so much that a bright red welt became one mass the size of Texas on her torso. It has hurt terribly. So with some difficulty we ventured forth to Alhambra, the awesome palace overlooking the city—and just above our apartment. Amy has refused a doctor so I have been concocting home remedies to help. Thankfully, a paste of honey and turmeric applied over the welt is slowly helping. A spice shop just on the cobbled street out front along a little river has all the herbs we need.

Don Quixote and  Nasrid emir Mohammed ben Al-Ahmar of the Emirate of Granada would approve.
Amy has said she feels “at home” here although it is her first visit. Even more so than when she stayed in Córdoba, the town that is her namesake.

We will venture forth soon in quest of windmills that stand like giants and once battled Don Quixote at Consuegra, then on to Córdoba.

Take my advice and live for a long, long time. Because the maddest thing a man can do in this life is to let himself die.
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

(For more from my previous adventures here, type Granada in the search bar at the top right of this blog.)