Archive for February, 2008



An enourmous thunder storm rolled over Los Gazquez today. Claps of thunder mutated into very loud, deep and threatening growls while forks of lightning scratched horizontally across the black cloud’s underbelly. You could see the hail approaching from ‘Bear Mountain’ ripping the blossom from the almond trees, pinging off the roof tiles and gathering in groups in every depression available.

And in twenty minutes it was gone, the sun shone again and the pine ridges steamed and the blue sky was littered with broken clouds having dispensed their cargo of ice.

It is good to be reminded why we have chosen to live in this wild place. The drama of this landscape is one of extremes capable of expressing the whole panoply of capabilities in a single day.



That’s better.


It’s been grey and wet for nearly three weeks but now the sun is back. Soon the land will turn green and the wild flowers will begin to bloom.



Almeria not Armeria


I confess to being one of those people who used to walk around ‘Blockbuster’ video rentals and from the corner of my eye I would always read ‘Marital Arts’ instead of ‘Martial Arts’. Likewise I read this sign as ‘Almeria’ not ‘Armeria’, though we were in Granada Province.

Hunting is such a popular pastime here there are gun shops in every town. This one is in Baza and I like the graphics very much.



Grey skies and rain


After a week of grey skies delivering the spring rains and a week more forecast I needed to remind myself  of what normality brings. Playa de Los Muertos, Cabo de Gata. Nijar, Almeria.



Commercial capers



The caper (Capparis spinosa L.) is a perennial spiny shrub that bears rounded, fleshy leaves and big white to pinkish-white flowers. A caper is also the pickled bud of this plant. The bush is native to the Mediterranean, growing wild on walls or in rocky coastal areas throughout. The plant is best known for the edible bud and fruit (caper berry) which are usually consumed pickled. Other species of Capparis are also picked along with C. spinosa for their buds or fruits.

The salted and pickled caper bud is often used as a seasoning or garnish. Capers are a common ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. The mature fruit of the caper shrub is also prepared similarly, and marketed as caper berries.

The buds, when ready to pick, are a dark olive green and about the size of a kernel of maize. They are picked, then pickled in salt, or a salt and vinegar solution.

Capers are categorized and sold by their size, defined as follows, with the smallest sizes being the most desirable: Non-pareil (0-7 mm), surfines (7-8 mm), capucines (8-9 mm), capotes (9-11 mm), fines (11-13 mm), and grusas (14+ mm).


What is more, 95 percent of the world’s commercial caper berry production is done here in Almeria at Guazamara near Pulpi. Must make a trip.



Mickey Mouse y Mojacar, quien sabe?


From the 13th to the 15th century Mojacar Pueblo stood on the Granada Emirates eastern frontier and suffered many Christian attacks including a massacre in 1435 before succumbing to the ‘Reconquistas’ in 1488. From then on it was in one of Almeria’s most backward and decayed areas until it’s resurgence as an artist’s community in the 1960′s.

The Pueblo is still very characterful but it’s surrounding has succumbed again, this time to tourism.

However, it is alleged, that Mojacar has a famous son. Can you guess who? Yes indeed Uncle Walt. Now, there is one of those mysteries surrounding the story. It is claimed that his real name was Jose Guirao and that his mother was a great local beauty called Isabel Zamora Asensio. Walt or Jose was supposedly born in the barrio of Espiritu Santo sometime in 1900. The father died young and the mother moved to Villaricos where she met a sea captain who took the boy to Boston and fostered him to a farming family from Kansas.


Apparently even his good friend Salvador Dali said Walt was convinced he was Spanish. Now there is a reliable witness if ever there was one.




A tomb in Seville


Norman Lewis is an author who has completely escaped me until now. This is the first book of his that I have read and it’s the last book he wrote. It’s an account of how he and his brother in law, on the request of his father in law, travelled through Spain and the length of Portugal to find the lost tomb of his wife’s family. It just happened to coincide with the outbreak of Civil War in Spain. Not that that perturbed our protagonists who walked, bussed and trained through the country whilst being regularly shot at. The landscape of the peninsular and the people are fantastically evoked in what I would describe as a soley English manner. A must read by one of Britain’s most interesting people.

Lewis was born in Forty Hill, Enfield, Middlesex, and attended Enfield Grammar School.

Lewis served in World War II and wrote an account of his experiences during the Allied occupation of Italy, Naples 44. Shortly after the war he produced volumes about Burma, Golden Earth, and French Indochina, Dragon Apparent. His intrepid boots-on-the-ground view of Vietnam under French colonial domination, without being itself a political rant, gives context to any discussion of the American experience in that battered and subjugated part of the world.

Lewis was fascinated by cultures which were little touched by the modern world. This was reflected in his books on travels to Indonesia, An Empire of the East, and among the tribal peoples of India, A Goddess in the Stones.

Lewis’s first wife, Ernestina, was a Sicilian aristocrat, and Sicilian life, including the Mafia was another of his major themes, reflected in The Honoured Society and In Sicily. His treatment of the Mafia was not sensationalist, but based on an acute understanding of Sicilian society and a deep sympathy with the sufferings of the Sicilian people, without losing sight of the horrors inflicted by the organisation.

Another major concern of Lewis’s is the impact of missionary activity on tribal societies in Latin America and elsewhere. He was hostile to the activities of missionaries, especially American evangelicals. This is covered in the volume, Among the Missionaries and several shorter pieces. He frequently said that he regarded his life’s major achievement as the worldwide reaction to writing on tribal societies in South America. In 1968, his article “Genocide in Brazil” published in the Sunday Times created such an outcry that it led to the creation of the organisation Survival International, dedicated to the protection of first peoples around the world.

Lewis wrote several volumes of autobiography, again concerned primarily with his observations of the many places in which he lived at various times, which included St Catherine’s Island in South Wales near Tenby, the Bloomsbury district of London during World War II, Nicaragua, a Spanish fishing village, and a village near Rome.

Lewis also wrote at least ten novels. Some of these enjoyed significant success at the time of publication, but his reputation rests mainly on his travel writing.

He died in Saffron Walden, Essex, survived by his third wife, Lesley, and their son, Gawaine, and two daughters, Kiki and Samara, and by a son, Gareth, and daughter, Karen, from his second marriage with Hester, and by a son, Ito, from his first marriage.




And here is the weather from Andalucia


At last spring rains sweep across the sierras so now we can expect things to start growing.



The consequences of a broken Omnitrix


P.S. You have to be in possession, or within immediate access to, a six year old boy to know what on earth I am talking about.



Almendras y telecomunicaciones


Velez Blanco has the luxury of wireless broadband although freak weather conditions can disrupt it for a day or two now and then. Los Gazquez is too remote for such ‘urbanista’ luxury so we have a two way satellite system allowing us good access to the internet although the distance to the satellite and back does cause some latency. However if you upload several pages consecutively using tabs it is no hardship.

It allows me to down load music like… ‘Hot Chip’.



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