Friday, September 21, 2007


Aragón -- but Not Forgotten!

Many things have happened in the past 10 days... I camped wild on the mountains above Albarracín under showers of shooting stars but once slept in an isolated mountain church to escape an unexpected downpour... It so happens that Lower Aragón is the most remote region of Spain, with the fewest villages, roads and people. At night I stood on a peak and couldn't see a single light in any direction. It was strange, lonely, beautiful, ancient, very emotional, and somehow I felt that good luck was with me all the time...

Albarracín itself turned out to be amazingly picturesque, perhaps the prettiest village I've seen in Spain. Tangled narrow alleys, tumbledown houses jutting over enormous drops, rose coloured walls and roofs. Purely by luck I arrived during a traditional fiesta, a ramshackle and bewildering affair with music, dancing, drinking and a bizarre parade in which men of the town dressed as tropical girls danced together with people dressed as giant hands, smarties and characters from Tolkien! I'm not sure exactly how traditional that was!

I was less enamoured by the bullfights which formed a central part of the fiesta. The fights were messy and botched, with an inept matador taking so long to kill one bull that a picador had to finally cut the bull's spinal cord with a knife. The crowd was not impressed. At all times I applauded the bull and on the last day my applause became very loud, for it was the turn of amateurs and drunkards to jump into the arena, resulting in a bull tossing two hapless fellows against the wooden balustrade with considerable force.

Unfortunately I didn't find the source of the River Tajo. My shoes finally fell apart and it was simply impossible to make the journey. Therefore I didn't send Rosa a message in a bottle as I planned, but I created an alternative, of which more in due course...

The book I took to read on my jaunt was Jan Potocki's Manuscript Found in Saragossa, the first Penguin Classic I've read for many years and a truly excellent work of literature!

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