Atlantic Island Explorations I: The Cíes Sublime

Insulae Deorum, Islands of the Gods, that is the name Plinio the Elder gave to this island archipelago, this pearl of Galicia’s Rías Baixas. He named it well, for this island should be worshipped and adored, protected from the profane secular sciences which have so corrupted so much of this planet’s jewels. Monteagudo, Illa do Faro, and San Martiño: these are the Cíes, hallowed be their names. Continue reading “Atlantic Island Explorations I: The Cíes Sublime”

Meandering Menorca: The Island Biosphere

Too often the word tourism is a synonym for over-development, speculation, and cultural devaluation; a word which is associated more with cruise ships and booze trips than with journey, adventure, and learning. But there is a place where tourism has not yet spoilt the very things which make it unique, a place where both economic and intrinsic value is recognised in the natural world. Continue reading “Meandering Menorca: The Island Biosphere”

Memories of Chacas

Memories of Chacas was written in 2014, reflecting on my earlier trip through the Peruvian Andes. There I visited my great-uncle, Padre Ugo de Censi, a ninety-three year old Salesian priest who in the 1970s visited the village of Chacas and fell in love with its landscape; a mountainous, verdant land which reminded him of the countryside from which he came, the Italian Valtellina. Continue reading “Memories of Chacas”

Exploring Carmen’s Seville: Cigars, Conquest, and Colonialism at the Royal Tobacco Factory of Seville

Sevilla, “so affectionate, so brunette, gypsy and so beautiful”, as the song says. Sevilla, forever the heart of the south and for so long the crossroads of the Old and New worlds. Sevilla I visit to learn about the symbol of this cultural meeting point, the Royal Tobacco Factory, the same tobacco factory from which poured out Sevilla’s most beautiful cigarreras in Bizet’s opera Carmen, pursued by their admirers Continue reading “Exploring Carmen’s Seville: Cigars, Conquest, and Colonialism at the Royal Tobacco Factory of Seville”

Horsing About at the Feria del Caballo, Jerez de la Frontera

La Feria del Caballo. La Feria. Feria is a dream, a kaleidoscope of colours and faces all flying by and blurring with the other, every day and night a dream within a dream, each a layer deeper than the other; you forget when one begins, when another ends, lose track of the chain of events which led you to be lost in this world where above you is a multi-coloured milky-way of fairy lights and below you a whirlpool wind of dust flying around your feet. Continue reading “Horsing About at the Feria del Caballo, Jerez de la Frontera”

Sensing Semana Santa: Holy Week in Southern Spain, Jerez de la Frontera

“In the south, we need to touch” – this is how the Spanish tradition of Semana Santa was explained to me by Manuel, council representative of Defensión brotherhood, a religious association which for over fifty years has participated in the Holy Week processions of Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. Commemorating the final days of Christ, the Semana Santa is an assault on your eyes and ears, and a jig-saw puzzle for your head. Continue reading “Sensing Semana Santa: Holy Week in Southern Spain, Jerez de la Frontera”

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