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Showing posts from May, 2009

Spanish Sunday Afternoons

A new series to celebrate my adopted homeland.

It's Getting Warm Around Here

When the temperatures sit above 30 for most of the day, summer measures are in order. Contrary to what some would think, closing the doors and windows during the day actually keeps in the freshness that seeped in throughout the night.

There is nothing better than the traditional blinds that let in just enough light for you not to feel like you are living in cave, yet block out the intense heat and light that permeates the day. Better yet, dash a little water on them and a breeze converts them into old time air conditioners.

The 4 part series comes to an end

The last installment of my 4 part series on teaching around the world has just come out in Verge's summer edition. This one isn't available online like the last, but you can find all the info here.

This piece focuses on the ins and outs of teaching in Asia, often the first-timer's first glimpse at the horrors and honors of the business of teaching English.

Discovering there is Moor to Spain than Andalusia in Hornachos

You've really gone off the beaten path when the GPS in your rental car shows you are literally off the map. Castle hop north from Andalusia just as the Moors did a thousand years ago. Out here a beautiful range rises out of a carpet of vineyards. Set in the Sierra Grande de Hornachos, this ideal spot has attracted people since cave painting was the 'in' thing. Catch an eagle in this protected area as your hike through the lavender scented trails leads you up to a beautifully ruined Arab castle, reminding you to not always listen to your GPS.

Also published on Trazzler

Riding Roman Roads

Woke up this morning to a text message, "Want to go for a ride?"

Looked out the window and while there were some clouds on the horizon, it was going to be a beautiful, sunny day.

In just minutes from my Almohad refuge I can be rolling through olive groves and before you know it, a 2000+ year old road that was laid by the Romans. A road called the Ruta de la Plata that runs from Seville, 300kms south from here all the way up to Astorga where it meets with the Camino de Santiago (the French Way).

The day stayed clear and the only clouds over head were the hundreds of Griffon Vultures that swirled above at one point.

The countryside is already bleaching gold but the wild lavender, rosmary and thyme make for delicious riding.

WOMAD 2009 Caceres, Spain

The music has died down and faded away, the stage has been packed up, the tourists have gone home and the artists are playing somewhere else. WOMAD 2009 has come and gone, but something hasn't left...and it's here to stay for awhile...a LONG while.

On Saturday night alone as people danced to the likes of Eliades Ochoa; it's estimated (and probably conservatively) that 21 800kgs of rubbish was collected, the lion's share of it plastic. That figure doesn't even include Thursday and Friday.

As the town hall pats itself on the back for effectively stopping the usual glass shard menagerie that endangered every footstep in previous editions of the festival, they and the festival organizers seem to have turned a very blind eye to the enormous mountain of plastic that was created as result. Plastic that wasn't even attempted to be recycled, but dumped in with the rest of the rubbish, bound to sit in the dump for the next eon.

Not one recycle bin was to be seen in the Main…

100 Things to do before you die

I recently came across something that takes travel writing's top ten tips to the extreme.

The Independent published '100 things to do before you die' last year in memorandum of Dave Freeman, creator of the travel guide of the same name.

I have to admit that I clicked through all 100 and found it funny that only one festival in Canada was mentioned...and it was a rodeo at that.

WOMAD Caceres 2009

May here in Caceres is curious...2 rather big events happen that couldn't be more dissimilar.

The first is the adoration of the local virgin which is carried down from its mountain refuge in late April and then is visited everyday by a certain sector of the population to see the what colour dress it is wearing (it's changed daily). Local lore has it that if you guess the colour, your wishes are granted. This all culminates with the 'besa manto', where the locals more or less patiently queue to kiss the hem of its dress and the following day hefty young lads brute the young lass (doll) back up the mountain on their shoulders amidst great fanfare.

The second big event, admittedly with fewer virgins, usually takes place the second weekend of May. The WOMAD festival (World of Music and Dance) invades this normally conservative provincial capital with its world beats. For almost 20 years, this festival has been celebrated in different places around the city and has now been m…

Virgins Come...Virgins Go...

My Almohad refuge has been busy of late. Every year around this time the locals take their beloved virgin down from its mountain hideaway to great pagan-like fanfare. Tears are shed, songs are sung and flowers cut...but less wine that one would expect, gotta travel further south for that I suppose.

She's then placed on display in the main cathedral for a week or 2 and in true Barbie style, has her dress changed everyday. The streets around are busy all day with people coming and going, guessing the colour of her dress and thus currying themselves a bit more favour with their man above. Picturesque if you're on vacation, slightly annoying if you are late for work.