Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hello from Andalusia



My life is like a story book, and I am doing my best to keep it that way. 

Good Bye Madrid
After a successful stay in Madrid, Ramon and I have made our way to Andalusia, the south of Spain. We spent the month of January apovechando (the concise Spanish word for saying to take advantage of) a great apartment in Madrid, and ended our stay with a fresh coat of white paint for all the walls. We simultaneously uploaded photos and a description of the apartment onto the World Wide Web, and were instantly visited by a plethora of perspective apartment renters. Ramon says that he got a little tired repeating the same details over and over again, but I continue to think that it was a great way to meet many interesting people.    

Anyways we did the best we could with the rental process and finally tore ourselves away from the city in order to prepare The Galvez, our beloved, 4 gear Serbian Modified van for her continuation south. We spent the week staying in San Martin de la Vega with Ramon's mother Daniela, constructed pull out boxes that fit under a fold up bed, installed a full service cooking unit, and mounted a fine piece of Serbian Art. Like most tasks shared between Ramon and I, the project offered us an opportunity to practice our patience as well as ability to listen. When both are done well, we call this communication.

Daniela overlooking my carpentry work.
 Though a bit resistant at first, by the end of our 7 day stay of sharing our company as well as failed food recipes, on my part that is, as Daniela is officially not a fan of sweet potatoes and the Serbian white bean recipe was a failure due to toughness of the skin (which could be a result of old beans or the lack of soaking time), she warmed up to us, and even donated 28 square meters of strong durable fabric, to the pull out roof tarp we continue to prepare. We collected the rest of our things in Madrid, I bought one of my favorite chocolate palmeras (the best cookie in town), and we showered before taking off to Grenada!

Palaces of Water.
The View of Granada from the Royal Gardens in La Alhambra
We arrived in the evening and parked aside La Alhambra, the first Arabic Castle in Andalusia. We once again spent the day losing ourselves in the rich diversity of the area. Surrounded by Eucalypti, pines and many other coniferous species I failed to verbally comprehend from Spanish to English, the surrounding area at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains offers a paradise of nature. In 1237 Muhamed the first Al-Ahmar, arrived to Andalusia and was immediately attracted to the access of Water. Something most of us take for granted, but at the basic level of our well being, is essential. He was the first of many inhabitants as well as artists to create the architecturally beautiful space we now recognize as La Alhambra, and as I like to see it, all in celebration of water.

Olives, Olives and more Olives
We caught the sunset on the freeway  and spent the night camped in Grazalema National Park heading south towards El Peurto de Santa Maria. Two and a half years ago I made my way to Laos searching for my passion in life, and stumbled across a Gaditano man mid-way through the construction of an adobe house in a small village outside of Vang Viene. I spent a month working alongside him and other travelers passing by, and after his departure decided it was only right to carry the project through. I stayed for another 2 months animating the construction with all those around, as well as assimilated myself into the local culture. An amazing experience to say the least and a contact worth hanging on to. Pedro and I were in contact the previous year when I arrived to Andalusia in search of beekeeping, and this time he invited Ramon and I to spend a few days at his house. As it turns out, Pedro has mounted an organization of Sustainable Tourism Routes and invited us to collaborate with him. We left his and Anchax's place with work, and are now officially preparing the information for our interactive educational caravan in route to Burkina Faso.
Welcome to the Abyss of beauty in Andalusia.

I continue to believe that everything happens for a reason, and our arrival to Cadiz and the amazing Casa Caracol, the hostel where I lent a hand last year, was no exception. Nico, the owner of the joint, spent the past 2 weeks building beautiful wood bunk beds, which also happened to weigh at least 50 kilos, each side. We arrived just in time for their installation. Due to the style of the 1900's architecture, the tall and narrow buildings required using a pulley system operated from the roof top in order to lift the furniture from the street, up and through the window. Ramon was able to put the cords that we carry with us in the van as well as his tree climbing knots to use, and over the course of the 5 hours spent tying, lifting and unloading the recently finished furniture to its appropriate place in the hostel, we had the opportunity to catch up with all the beautiful people in my favorite city of Cadiz. There’s nothing like a little team work to bring people together.

View looking up, this was the trial run,
we soon after replaced the platform for
well tied knots directly on the furniture.
We haven’t stopped moving the potato since our arrival, and after a successful pair of days in Cadiz we made our way to La Muela, where my friend Daniel is turning his house in el campo (rural house) into one of Spain’s only queen bee rearing centers. We spent the night sharing stories in front of the fire, and catching ourselves up to speed and the morning, stretching, chatting and playing accordion in the beautiful sunlight. Daniel has a long list of work to take care of in order to prepare, and it seems that Ramon and I have arrived at just the right time to lend a helping hand.

Needless to say I am very excited about my return to Andalusia…

Oh, and I forgot to mention, Carnival is just around the corner...








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