Much has happened since I last posted back in January (yikes!) and so I have finally gotten my act together to create some new posts for the last few months.
In mid-January, Aaron left for Brazil for a few months to avoid visa issues in Europe, to visit the house his parents have there, and to help out with some of the things that needed to be done on the property. He still was working everyday, but was able to enjoy lots of surfing and the beauty of Brazil and the culture. Meanwhile, I stayed here in Fuengirola to continue teaching and enjoy my time here in Spain (with a small trip to California in February, which was wonderful!
One of the highlights of January/February was a long weekend trip I took with some of my co-workers to a small mountain pueblo (village) near Ronda. We stayed in a house in the village and spent most of the days walking around the town and eating...eating and eating plenty of chorizo (sausage), lomo (pork loin) and jamón (ham). Let's just say they like their meat here...vegetarians, beware.
The pueblo is called Genalguacil, and is an absolutely beautiful place, surrounded by mountains and an abundance of almond trees and flowers. Not only is is beautiful, but it has a peculiar charm to it.
As I have spent a lot of time in Andalucia, I have had the opportunity to visit many of the small towns that scatter the mountains around Malaga, Granada and Ronda. Many small pueblos in Andalucia are often inhabited by older, retired people, many of whom have lived there their whole lives. It is hard to find a young person in many of the pueblos as many of them only have a colegio (primary school) and the children have to leave to go to high school somewhere else and usually, there is very limited employment. Thus, many of the very small pueblos are popular destinations for Spanish families to go take a Sunday drive, eat in a restaurant together, and enjoy some traditional Andalucian culture and beauty.
And so, as you can imagine, Genalguacil is mostly full of little old men and women, who still labor in their gardens and walk up and down the steep streets carrying food back to their homes or water from the town well. I would have to say that many of the tiny pueblos of Andalucia would be great places to do studies on longevity. Many of the hard-working people I saw there were well into their 80's and 90's, but very alive and active in their everyday lives.
So the peculiar charm about this particular pueblo is that it is also an attraction for artists, particularly sculptors. The reason for this is that every year, the pueblo holds a competition for artists. The artist creates a sculpture that is judged by the people of the town, and the winning sculpture gets placed somewhere in the pueblo to honor the piece and its artist.
Along with the display of their sculpture, the artist is then invited to live in the pueblo for one year, with free rent and free food for the entire year so they can continue creating art in a beautiful place (all you artists out there, I seriously recommend it!). As you can imagine, this adds an extra charm to this pueblo as the winning sculptures from over the years are wonderfully displayed all over the town. And given that many of the sculptures are of a modern style, it makes for some very nice contrasts between the old and the new.
A few weeks after my trip to Genalguacil, I was lucky enough to take a short trip back to California to see my friends and family. It was lovely to see those of you in the Bay Area and down south who were around when I came. For those of you that I missed, no worries as we will be seeing each other very soon! Aaron and I return on June 20th.