Category Archives: women

The Fortress of Zafra

The massive stone walls and turrets are golden in the evening light, silhouetted boldly against the clear blue sky. It dominates the skyline with its strength and sheer size. I think of all the history that has marched across this very spot, so many civilizations built and destroyed. Each unique and varied culture has left it’s mark on the psyche of the people now inhabiting this pretty little town. It reminds me never to take things for granted, never to say “Some day I will do this or see that.” We can never be sure what the future will bring. Life is too short for anger and conflict of our own making. We  should walk joyfully, loving our friends and family with a passion like there is no tomorrow.

“The Fortress of Zafra”, 12 X 16 oil on canvas.

Zafra is and interesting little city boasting pre-historic settlements and a large Bronze Age community. Straddling the Via Pecuria, it was an important Roman stopping point between Sevilla and Merida. It was “La Safra”, or Muslim “Cafra”, until King Ferdinand III conquered it in 1241. The city is centered on The Alcazar, or castle, built in 1437 which was formerly a Moorish fortress.  The interior was destroyed by Napoleon in 1822. It was exquisitely restored and today it serves as the Parador of Zafra, the town’s most distinguished hotel.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”

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Sun Dappled Meadows

The colors of the night are still an inky black, indigo blue scattered with stars. The sky gradually lightens into deep violet, then periwinkle as my boots continue along the pathway. As dawn breaks the colors of the heavens are illuminated, glowing golden, pink, and apricot through the oak groves. The treetops are kissed by the sun and the meadows alight with color at the start of a new day.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”


Dancing Oaks

As I walk along the quiet lanes bordered by stone walls I hear the gentle sounds of morning. Cow bells chime lightly, birds stir in the trees, and small streams find their way along the contours of the earth under my boots. The air is crisp and cool on my skin, and my breath forms small clouds. I walk contentedly through the dawn with my recent cafe con leche still warming me, its scent mingling with the dew filled grass in the meadows. I think that the world can not get any more beautiful. A moment later the sun peeks over the horizon, filling the sky with warm pink, apricot and golden colors. The oak trees appear to dance with joy at the dawning of another serene Spanish day along the Camino.

If you would like to see more of my art work or purchase my book, “The Artist’s Journey”, please visit my website at http://www.theartistsjourney.com


El Real de la Jara to Monesterio

The albergue in Monestario is closed, so we left a note in hideous Spanglish for the Senora asking to reserve a room for us at the Bar/Hostal Extremadura. There are many pilgrims competing for a few rooms, so off we went with a hope and a prayer under the pre-dawn violet skies. A crescent moon hung over the Castle as the quiet, stone lined lanes meandered across the hills. The hills were again filled with sheep tended by fierce dogs. We have left the province of Andalucia and entered Badjoz. The landscape is again changing to a more open and bare environment. The mountains are to the west now, and there is little shade.

Just as my feet were beginning to really hurt, a man roared up in a car motioning to us  and began speaking excitedly in German / Spanish. The senora did, indeed, make our reservations and we were meeting the owner of the hostel, Eduardo. He offered to take our mochillas, or backpacks, ahead for us. I was out of my pack before you could say, “It’s another Camino Miracle!” Ask and the Camino provides. The temperature was in the upper 90*’s F, so it was a relief to feel the breeze on our backs without the extra weight of our packs. I felt as light as the lambs cavorting in the nearby pastures.

It was a day of contrasts in walking. We had to navigate some ugly areas and busy freeway interchanges. Walking along the side some busy secondary roads and next to freeways was hair raising. The pavement is hard on the feet as well as intensifying the heat. It is not all pretty on the Camino, but such is life. In general, the friends of the Camino have done a fantastic job keeping us in the countryside and along quiet lanes.

At Monestario we took a rest day, or “Lay day”, as Judy would say. This is definitely the center of pig  country. The main industry  is raising pigs and turning them into the famous Iberian Hams, or Jamon Iberico. One of the merchants had a good sense of humor, combining the name of the town (Monesterio) with  ham (Jamon) on the front doors of his export business.

Judy is such a kick and I am so glad we have teamed up. We were sitting outside of the hostel, having just discovered that the bar and restaurant by the same name were all seperate, yet shave a building and a sign. Judy looked up with a puzzled look on her face and said, “Ayah, how’re ya supposed ta know? That sign up there has a different name yet. It says C L I M A T I C A CI O N ….” I said, “Um, that means air conditioned, or climate controlled.” We all laughed until our sides ached. I had to admit that the only reason I know the word Climatication is because when my son, Justin, and I were here when it was 120 degrees. W e would look for those signs and not stay anyplace with out it. The irony is that the air conditioners are fiendishly effiecient. It is so arctic inside that you have to sleep with all the blankets, towels, your coat, and anything else you can find in order to not freeze to death!

Distance from El Real De la Jara to Monesterio = 12.6 Miles

Actual Distance Walked=16.22 Miles

Accommodations= Bar / Hostel Extremadura, 12 Euro per person, double room over the bar with a private bathroom, and clotheslines on the roof.

There is a small Albergue in town, but it was closed in April 2011.

www.theartistsjourney.com


Meet the other Pilgrims

We have met quite a few fellow Pilgrims from Germany, Holland, Italy, Spain, Norway, Australia, and one from Bellingham! I am really pleased that we are having company, as I thought we might now see too many other Pilgrims. There is not the big communal dinner activity like I experienced on the Camino Frances, but we have gotten to know them none the less.There is an easy familiarity among the Pilgrims as we all walk down the same road together. We share blisters, laughter, good food, maps, information, and most of all kindness.

One morning the very hot looking, fit young Italian woman was trying to tell us someone left their panties in the kitchen. Do I look like that would be me? Maybe she was telling me because I look like the Mom. Roland, the German, said “Ah, Unter hosen….”  They were a skimpy, lacy, little black pair and I waved them around while asking, “Anyone loose their panties?” This huge Austrian man said, “Ah, they are mine”. After a split second we all burst into laughter. He had a pretty good sense of humor, and very was very quick in another language. His name is Thomas, and he is walking with another man named Hanis that he has met on the Camino, only to discover that they live 10 kilometers from each other at home.

We have linked up with a great Australian woman our age named Judy. She has walked and stayed  with us each day. I am so thankful for her fun spirit and can- do attitude. What a fantastic person to have met, and how amazing it is that we can connect so well with someone from the other side of the world. She has learned all the Spanish she needs with “Vino Dulce” and “Uno Mas Vino Dulce, por favor”, which means sweet wine, or sherry, and one more sherry please. She is learning to like the taste of some of the best sherry in the world, produced near here at Jerez.  I am enjoying the vino tinto, or red wine, of the region.

Lila is a smiling 67-year-old naturopathic healer from Norway, walking with her robust, 71-year-old husband Rolf. She is very amusing and at the same time very perceptive. She can tell you personal things about yourself with the touch of a hand and her penetrating blue-eyed gaze. She took Judy’s foot in her hand and touched a reflexology point. Judy nearly jumped into orbit at the lightest of touches. This led to an extremely interesting discussion on the physical and psychological implications of  sensitivity points  linking mind and body.

When we come to the end of our trek each day, we walk into a little white village. Many of the houses have the yellow ochre trim, lovely iron work balconies and gates, and stunningly colorful tiles. In the evenings everyone in the entire village is out in the central plaza. Sometimes like tonight in El Real de la Jara, a castle sits perched above the town. Whole families are out visiting while the kids terrorize everyone on their roller blades and bikes, kicking soccer balls, zooming around on mini-motorcycles,  and chasing each other. It is actually really great. The nights are warm enough for short sleeves, and there are palm trees. This is the essence of the Camino.


The Virgin of Granada

A lovely church dedicated to the Virgin of Granada dominates the town square of Guillena. It was built at the beginning of the 1400’s  in the Mudejar style, which blends Islamic and Christian design elements. I was attracted to the tile imagery set into the white wall of the church.  The virgin portrayed is known as “Our lady of Sorrows“. The late afternoon sun warmed my back as I sat drawing her, wondering of her significance to the town. She holds the crown of thorns and a piece of cloth in her hands, as a halo of thorns circles her head. Tears appear on her face as she walks away from the scene of the crucifixion in her royal purple robes. Although this is a sad scene, the portrait somehow touched me deeply.

Why did the people of this small Spanish town choose her to be their patron saint? What are their deeply held beliefs? She seemed to be saying to me that no matter how terrible things seem, you must still walk on with dignity. We are capable of bearing the unimaginable. Things have to get better from here on out.  She reminded me of the deeper and more significant meaning of things that happen to us,     setting us on our personal Pilgrimages through life.   She seemed to be looking to the  light on the wall to her left, and traveling toward it. Symbolically, it cast a lovely multi-colored shadow. Do we walk to the light or to the darkness, or do we always encounter both on our journey?

This drawing was rendered in Faber Castel colored pencil and highlighted with a Micron ink pen. I used a Bee Paper Company Professional Series, 93 Lb.  Heavyweight drawing paper, 9 X 9 inches. It stood up well to the pressure applied by the color pencils, and had a nice tooth (texture) for layering the color.   This is the first drawing that I have done in colored pencil. I liked the waxy textures achieved by the layering of colors, and the variety that can be achieved with only a few basic colors.

www.theartistsjourney.com


Seville, The Plaza de Espana

After a sidewalk cafe lunch, stuffing ourselves on the menu del dia, we visited the Plaza de Espana, which was built for the 1929 Worlds Fair. I had visited it years ago, and it is a colorful semi-circle of astonishing tile work that forms a huge open space. There is a curved moat crossed by arching bridges all made of blue, white and yellow tile, where people row boats and laugh at their lack of skill. Every major city in Spain in represented in a tiled bench and surround that wraps around the entire base of the buildings forming the half circle. It was full of families and wedding parties being photographed on this lovely Saturday afternoon.

We topped off the day by visiting the Archeological museum. It is a great little museum that covers prehistory onward, but the best part was all the mosaics, columns, sculpture and other artifacts that came from the important Roman city of Italica that is just a few miles from here. We will go there tomorrow then begin walking our Camino the next day. We actually have to put on our packs tomorrow, and we are tired from these 2 exciting days in Seville. It will be a big shift in our focus.

www.theartistsjourney.com


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