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Published: October 24th 2018
This is quite a long post, more than 600 words and 40 pictures, so if you are too busy to read it or look at all the pictures, I totally understand.
In Seville we suffered from monument fatigue so we didn't go to any. Religious shops sold naked baby Jesus, which you can dress yourself. The saints and Mary came with elegantly detailed extremities but a wire frame torso and an extensive and expensive wardrobe.
But the real magic and the reason we returned to Seville was the Flamenco. It is passionate and powerful. When the gypsies arrived in Andalusia from India round 1425, they brought the precursor of flamenco. There are musicians, singers, dancers and 'hell raisers'. Hell raisers stamp their feet, clap and shout encouragement at the dancers who fling themselves with potent passion into the music. Although we saw the same dancers and musicians two nights in a row, the spirit moved them to powerfully different performances. They were not dancing for an audience, they danced for their inner god and their fellow artists.
There are many styles of Flamenco, from fiesta, fun and flirtatious, to defiance, to tragedy. One male dancer performed a tragic
dance. I almost cried. Another male danced himself into a frenzy of defiant passion, fling pearls of sweat from his long black curls into the audience. He wore very tight matador pants, which were under considerable strain and held precariously together with a large silver safety pin.
Our next stop was Carrapateira, west coast of southern Portugal. My friend Corinne, the illustrator of 'Operation Kill the Cad' joined us for a few days. Our dear friend Jann passed away a couple of weeks previously. So we built a boat from papier mache, painted it, filled it flowers, a candle, a fig from the garden for her journey and a clove of garlic - just in case. We floated the boat in a little bay but we did not let it go out to sea. Jann would not have wanted us to pollute the ocean.
We arrived just a hurricane Leslie struck the Portuguese coast. Luckily a little further north. It whipped up huge seas. The waves were kilometres long, three metres high and rising to frightening. Carl stood on the headlands looking at these powerful, crashing waves. His little face was shining with something between delight and fright.
He did find some more tranquil beaches and had two awe inspiring surfs. The majestic headlands marched on for dozens of kilometres. It was like the beauty and power of Stradbroke Island told and retold in hundreds of variations.
Luscious wild figs grew in abundance at our door. The figs were delicious but I tried to sample what looked like a wild tomato (solanaceous - I should have known better). Only a tiny drop touched my lips but I spent the next half hour spitting.
Our next stop was two nights in a tiny village of Serpa. No tourists. Just a friendly town with an imposing castle and one of the world's most complete clock collections.
Monsaraz is a tiny fortress town. The house we stayed in was made from huge white washed rocks. The walls and ceiling were more than a metre thick. The door frames were only about 1.5m high. Carl was in constant danger of hitting his head. Not me, although the thought of an earthquake was troubling. We had a roof top garden with 270 degree view of the lake, castle and olive groves. We drank wine and ate cheese under the full
moon and ate breakfast under the gaze of the fort.
There are many menhirs, obelisks and stone circles this one, Xerez, was probably erected between 4,000 BC and 3,000 BC .
Evora is a much larger town, with lots of interesting history. The bone chapel is an artful and even playful arrangement of bones, found around the old city. It is not gruesome like Cambodia, most of these people would have died a natural death. There is a motto above the door reminding us not to be too proud because we all end up the same way.
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