Camino Santiago – April 2013

Pyrenees Horses, April 26
Last photo taken in the French Pyrenees on April 26, 2013. After snapping these horses I put my camera away. We were soaking wet.

Our Camino Santiago began on April 25, 2013 in St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, French Pyrenees. The weather April 25 was beautiful. Perfect for hiking, meditating and snapping photos. We spent the  night of April 25 in the “honeymoon suite,” a tiny but private room at the Refugio Orisson, eight kilometres from, and about 800 meters higher than, our starting place in St.-Jean. Note: we did not ask for, or even have a clue about, the “suite,” the boss at reception just gave it to us.

April 26 was a mystical, but scary, experience. We set off very early and were careful to follow the well-marked trail with its yellow arrows. A mistake could have caused a sad mishap. Anita had sent her pack ahead to Roncesvalles’ public refugio; a wise decision that turned out to be…

Camino marker - French Pyrenees
Camino marker West of Orisson

Photos 3 and 4 in the set below show just the start of our walk from the Refugio Orisson across the mountains into Spain, where we had a night booked at the Hotel Roncesvalles. It was cold and very wet – a fine, persistent rain that did not let up. I put my Sony NEX-5N DSLR camera away after shooting the beautiful horses. It was already damp just from condensation when I removed it to shoot. Terrible visibility caused us to miss the Statue of the Virgin, a landmark that overlooks the valley no more than 30 metres from the trail, even though I knew when we were passing it! Continue reading “Camino Santiago – April 2013”

We Need to Nurture Hope

The Golden Age of Arab Spain:

I love reading the opinions of others. It is through this that I get motivated to think and write about ideas that are new to me.

I read a piece recently claiming that Spain’s Catholics somehow lied about, or wildly exaggerated, the “Moslem Invasion” of 711. The author called it a “myth.” The purpose of the myth, according to the writer, was for the Church to blame an embarrassingly dark period in its history on something foreign that “She” could not have stopped. An interesting point of view that I cannot, at this point, share.

In my opinion there is overwhelming evidence (linguistic, artistic and architectural) that much of Spain south of Toledo and possibly north as far as Zaragoza was occupied by a liberal Arabic dynasty centred in Cordoba for close to three centuries.

Yes, Liberal Arabs:

I used the adjective, liberal, because openness to new ideas and tolerance of Christians and Jews was emblematic of the threatened  Umayyad dynasty that entered Spain in 711 after fleeing Damascus, the Umayyad capital based in Syria. Umayyads had put together the fifth largest empire in history. Continue reading “We Need to Nurture Hope”

Jerez, Sanlúcar and Zahara – April, 2011

Morning ride at the mouth of the Wadi Kabir
Morning ride at the mouth of the Wadi Kabir

Early one morning we left Córdova, the richly complex and cultured capital of Moorish Spain from the seventh to the eleventh centuries (see my post on Córdova). We drove our little Eurocar rental about 2.5 hours to Jerez in the southern province of Cádiz, visited Jerez then went on to Sanlúcar de Barrameda in one, hectic day in April, 2011.

Sanlúcar de Barrameda is a city on the Atlantic at the mouth of the Wadi Kabir, as the Moors called it – the Great River – which the Spanish spell Guadalquivir. It is one corner of the “sherry triangle” and here a pale, dry sherry with a faint salty taste is made. It is called Manzanilla wine.

But first, Jerez:

We arrived in Jerez from Córdoba just in time for the 10:30 AM Sandeman Bodega tour. We were told about Sanlúcar’s unique drink by Velia, a semi-retired Melbourne, Australia teacher whom we met with her husband Ron while tasting several of the famous Sandeman sherries. She and her husband travel (backpack only) from Feb ’til July every year. We then attended, with our Aussies-well-met,  the incredible Royal Andalusian School of Horsemanship show in Jerez.

The world-renowned Horse Show put on by La Real Escuela Andaluza Del Arte Equestre featured Andalusian horses doing what seemed like dozens of dance steps in time with Spanish music. The costumes, braided manes and tails and ornate halters and saddlery were varied and beautiful. this is not the best show of horsemanship in the world it certainly must be as good as it gets: absolutely stunning – visually, musically and emotionally. Continue reading “Jerez, Sanlúcar and Zahara – April, 2011”

Sunday In Pamplona

 

Encierro (Running of the Bulls) Monument
Encierro (Running of the Bulls) Monument

This is an email I sent to friends and family a year ago April that I just re-read today. Thought it would make a good post with some photos and a little editing:

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Breakfast at a cafeteria 50 m from our Pension Arrieta.

Also found the bus station (for tomorrow’s departure to Órbigo) 3 minutes walk from our door.

Viewed the mountains from the fortified lookout: El Rincón del Caballo Blanco:

Took in high mass (missa capitular) at Santa María Cathedral. Surprised that the Latin Gloria was still stored in my brain cells. Beautiful pipe organ :))) Great singing if you’re OK with all men’s voices. Unparalleled setting.

Presbytery - Pamplona Cathedral
Presbytery – Pamplona Cathedral (on Saturday

Met Jesús and Pinte outside the cathedral while looking at our map to find the beginning of the San Fermin bull run route. Jesús was dressed in black with the classic large black beret worn by Basques here. They assumed we needed serious help (we didn’t) and walked us to the Coralillos where 6 fierce and 6 less fierce bulls are corralled prior to the run. Continue reading “Sunday In Pamplona”

A Recipe for Sanity?

Granada's Catedral de la Anunciación, in which are buried Fernando and Isabella, seen from the Alhambra
Granada’s Catedral de la Anunciación, in which are buried Fernando and Isabella, photographed from the Alhambra. Known as “Los Católicos” this royal duo finally drove the last Moslems and unconverted Jews out of Spain in 1492.

 Keep refreshing your perspectives and beliefs – and realize that they will continue (as long as humans continue…) to be changed and refreshed via dialogue long after you’re gone. Don’t subscribe to the isolating slogan:

God said it.

I believe it.

That settles it.

A quote from James Corse, in a great podcast conversation on the wrong-headed divisiveness of fundamendalists. Corse was talking with David Cayley of CBC Radio, our precious Canadian public broadcaster. Thoughtful CBC podcasts, ridiculed by the Canadian right as “elitist,” question our thinking and make us wiser – and gentler…

True believers are often more of a threat to a religion than non-believers. Dogmatic belief puts an end to what ought to be an unending conversation.

Corse recommends that we get rid of or minimize the top-down “civitas” (rule of dogma) and realize that any value there is iwill be in  “communitas”: the ongoing community of those who, despite widely differing viewpoints, participate in never-ending seeking.

And a piece of amazing flamenco music to accompany the photo.

 
 
 
 
 

Astrolabe Tapestry – Splendid “Eclecticity”

Tapiz de los Astrolabios in the Santa Cruz Museum - Toledo, Spain
Tapiz de los Astrolabios in the Santa Cruz Museum – Toledo, Spain
This late 15the Century Flemish tapestry once adorned Toledo’s Catedral Primada Santa María de Toledo. Now it hangs in Toledo’s fascinating Museo Santa Cruz, along with some cool stuff by El Greco, Giordano and Ribero. This was taken in 2011 with Anita’s great little Canon SD 1400 IS point and shoot as my gorilla tripod couldn’t be  set up far enough away and high enough to use my old, light insensitive DSLR.
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In the top left is the Prime Mover (aka God) aided in moving the cosmos by an angel turning a crank while Atlas lends a hand or two. Continue reading “Astrolabe Tapestry – Splendid “Eclecticity””

A Year Ago Today I Was A Geek

With backpack and MEC duds at Mount Chinguacousy
Anita with backpack and MEC clothes  at “Mount Chinguacousy” on Feb. 15, 2013

Last year I wrote this post and scheduled it to be published when we were already over in France/Spain doing our modified Camino Santiago. Somehow I messed up and it wasn’t posted, so it’s going in as an anniversary note, of sorts:

“Began real early preparing for our Camino Frances (the popular French route to Santiago de Compostela). First stage was to be through the Pyrenees. I estimated the “lowest freaky possible temperature ever” for our passage on the highest point at Col de Lepoeder (1427 metres above sea level) to be -7 degrees C on April 25 (when we expected to be doing it) My estimate was done by  checking the lowest temperature ever recorded for Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on that date and subtracting about 0.65 degrees for every 100 m increase in altitude.”

I know, I was a geek. Still am.

We actually crossed the high point on April 26, 2013. The weather was terrible, Continue reading “A Year Ago Today I Was A Geek”