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Reisverslag One arm and a half
16 januari 2014
One arm and a half
Day two of the trip finds me in Riglos, a two street village in the pre-Pyrenees, safely cushioned between fields and orchards at the end of a long, winding road. Except from the usual cats and dogs, only few inhabitants dwell amongst the yellow-brown tiled roofs and pine trees. Towering high above the village, rusty red stone peaks rise up from the hills for hundreds of vertical meters, their faces pock-marked by a confetti of pebbles and rocks. Those vulture infested peaks are the reason Javier and I are here, dirtbagging at the village's stamp sized parking lot with an assortment of stray climbers in shabby cars and converted vans. Because what better way to celebrate our reunion then with some climbing? And how to travel without at least one little climb?
What did the manual on men say again? Ah, yes: always be overly clear, and even when you think there's not an inch of space left for alternative interpretation, be ten times more clear. Well, I failed again. In spite of a disclaimer on the deplorable state of my right shoulder, cautiously including a quantitative restriction on climbing difficulty, my message didn't make it across to Javier's plans. So instead of going for an easy scramble, I found myself pulling on ropes and climbing gear with my left - decidedly undertrained - arm all too often. And to make matters worse, I even had to dust off the ever feared walrus technique. In case you're not a climber, just use your imagination, and yes, it is that unelegant. Good style left aside, it felt incredible to be back on the rock, albeit with one arm and a half. Moving upwards with the surprisingly loud sound of the vultures' swooping wings, red rock left and right and everywhere, the green valley floating in the depths far below. My muscles remembering their task and my shoulder surprisingly happy. And definitely it was no less great to catch up with a long lost travel friend. My smile extended ear to ear.
No matter how natural dirtbagging feels, after three days of stewing in the same set of clothes, a shower is no excessive luxury. And neither is clean underwear. As you might have guessed we're back in Zaragoza. Javier for his exams, me to supplement rock with some culture. Inbetween activities, Javier is on a mission becoming of a mediteranean abuela. Recharging us daily with manchego, Rioja wine, Spanish ham and chorizo, cured figs from the family's orchard, and various treats from his mother's and grandmother's kitchens. Not even to mention his own cooking creations. True and honest spoiling, can't ever have too much of it.
To compensate for all the eating, I zigzaged the city with my private Spanish teacher and guide. And what diversity did we stumble upon. In 2008 Zaragoza hosted the World Expo, for which the city constructed a veritable ski lift to cross the Ebro river. Today no longer operative and surrounded by the exposition's empty buildings, the area breathes an air of urban surrealism, oddly out of tune with its surroundings. Although not that much out of tune if you come to think of it, as the rest of Zaragoza is a mishmash of shapes and sizes as well. Greying concrete flats surround ancient churches and remains from Roman times. Wide asphalt and tram tracks cut through claustrophobic alleys and ill lit plazas, while high fahion dresses in window fronts pretend hairdresser 'Jesus' with his full total of two chairs and one mirror doesn't exist. Even the Moorish Aljaferia palace has suffered an indentity crisis of baroque curls and twists, and sees no contradiction in hosting a tiny tangerine orchard next to the provincial parliament.
A little afterthought
On a more serious note, Zaragoza's contradictions extend to the current economy. Pretending the crisis doesn't exist, clothes hang side by side, neatly arrangd in soft yellow light, inviting the shoppers in from the drizzle. While on the corner a crumbling granny hides under her pelt of blankets, slowly stirring a spoon of sugar in the paper cup of coffee she just got from a passerby. Now, also in Holland we've got our fair share of street dwellers. Yet, in most caes the homeless are drug addicts and psychiatric patients in their never ending cycles in and out of the social system. Seeing elderly people on the street in the winter drizzle, so close to home, makes my heart cringe. And leaves me with a feeling of helplessness and afterthoughts.
This is it for week number one. A little to enjoy and a little to contemplate about. My next stop will be Siurana, to catch up with my Argentinian friends Lucas and Julieta. You'll hear more soon, hasta la proxima!
Foto's bij verslag (1)
16 januari 2014 22:23 | Door: Guusje