Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Death in the Afternoon" and Mom on the 9:30 flight from Gatwick

Basically…I’m addicted. To bullfights. Yes, some of you are cringing in your seats, horrified that I could relish such a blood-thirsty sporting event, but then again others of you are smirking at the screen thinking, “Classic…typical Jaime”. To the first group, let me just take a moment to justify myself!!! The way we kill cattle in the west is not exactly pretty either, and they do eat these bulls after they are killed. Yes, a bullfight IS entertainment, but these beasts live like kings for their entire lives, and then experience 15 minutes of pain. Beef cattle don’t live NEARLY as well and still get eaten. So…excuse the pun, but…what’s your beef? Hee hee…sorry…don’t mean to be a smart alec! Anyway, to the second group…oh man…WHAT A RUSH! To see such a massive animal charge a man on foot…it’s not often that you get to witness something so primal yet artful at the same time. Anyway, I loved the entire experience. From the musical fanfare that accompanies the (mostly graceful) movements of the matador, to the daring bravado of the matadors and their banderielleros, to the various techniques and traditions used during the fight, to the crowd’s wild responses and the president’s presentation of ears and tail as trophies—definitely one of the highlights of the last three months!

One of the other highlights was a trip I took to the small white village (pueblo blanco) of Ronda, a beautiful city about the size of Vernon situated on a plateau and overlooks the surrounding mountain and hilly countryside. It’s reknowned for the incredible stone bridge that spans ‘El Tajo’, the plunging gorge below, and connects the 18th and medival sections of the city. I went with Beth, a friend and coworker of mine here in Spain, and we hiked down into the gorge one morning, visited the oldest bullring in Spain (made famous by Hemingway’s “Death in the Afternoon”) ate some amazing food, AND took in a flamenco show!!! Oh my goodness, it was so AWESOME!!!! The show actually took place in the basement of—get this—a museum featuring a visual history of the Spanish Inquisition…complete with a varied and explicit display of torture devices. On my way out of the washroom I got to find out exactly how instruments like the Maiden of Nuremberg and the Heretic’s Fork worked…magical. Thankfully, this ambient d├ęcor wasn’t visible from where we were seated and the outstanding show made up for the initial lack of appeal! Let me just say, however, that watching something like flamenco definitely reminds me how rhythmically challenged I really am! I have never seen dancers, musicians, and singers keep time like that! The experience was electrifying and it was truly evident that these artists were passionate about their craft and personally attached to flamenco as a means of expressing their love for their culture and heritage. The only other musicians I’ve ever witnessed pouring out such soul-baring vocal expression have been blues artists. While places like Starkville, MS and Fes totally blow my mind, places like Ronda put me at peace. I’ve never been so enchanted by location as I was by Ronda. It felt like a home away from home and I really didn’t want to leave!

And speaking of home…mom arrived in Malaga late on Tuesday night! I wasn’t exactly sure if I’d cry or just grin ear to ear or what, but I surprised myself and probably the other bystanders with a yelp or excitement when I saw her coming through the gates! It’s been great having her here and we’re both really looking forward to traveling throughout Morocco and Spain. She’s been really great about entertaining herself while I finish off my work here at the media centre…tomorrow’s my last day! I’m gonna miss it here, especially Rosie my roommate and Beth who shares my office space and a lot of laughs. I can’t believe it’s over!!! But don’t quit visiting the blog, because now that work is over, it’s just fun and games for the next month!!! Obviously I’ll still be shooting (film now rather than digital) and working mentally to round out my collection of images, but it’s now possible for me to come and go as I please!!

So anyway, the next time you hear from me I’ll most likely be down past the famous Ait Benhaddou, (watch Gladiator and Alexander for scenes shot here at this king of Kasbahs) into the desert and beyond…well…after the beyond…there will be no internet cafes found in the Sahara!!!

Outta here like a herd of turtles….