March 15, Capmany --> La Jonquera --> Cantallops

We awoke to bright sunlight and to strong, persistent, and intensely irritating winds. I unfolded our bikes and despite the wind’s strength and obnoxious persistence (at least it was warm), we set off to explore the village of Capmany. Strong tail winds, pushed us down winding hills and into the town. These folding bikes are twitchy little things with their small wheels, and high centre of gravity. Combined with our lack of experience on them, the strong tail winds, and the downhill ride we were more than a little apprehensive of both our safety and our dignity, but we arrived at Capmany with life, limb, and dignity intact. To the locals, there is nothing special about Capmany, it is but one of many such small villages, picturesque links to a passing way of life. Surrounded by olive groves, vine- yards, pine plantations, pasture, and scrub- lands, the village sprouts small vegetable and flower gardens amidst the stone walls and cobblestone streets. But coming from the vastness of the Canadian west coast where a rapidly changing, ultramodern city of glass towers grows, surrounded by urban sprawl, rich agricultural lands, and mountain wilderness; and where 100-year-old buildings are considered heritage, Capmany is another world. Centuries old homes, little changed on the outside cast a spell on the New World mind, drawing it into a temporal continuity going back millennia. To be sure there are scattered, brightly coloured cars parked wherever, power lines run down the streets and into the houses, the church bells tolling the hours and half hours are automated, and young folk thumb their smart phones, but round a corner, pass through a stone arch barely wide enough for one small car, and look down a street seeing nothing but centuries old stone and cobbles, an old woman, stooped with age, dressed in blue smock tending the narrow planters between her home and the street and you are in another time and another world. And in this small, out of the way, stone village, in a small stone house near the church, we happened upon an small, elegant art gallery. Run by a couple from Girona. It is located in her father's old home, now converted to an intimate gallery where they support local artists. Inside was a powerful exhibition by Guerrero Medina, paintings inspired by photographs of the Spanish exiles forced to leave Spain after the civil war, many caught up in the Second World War, imprisoned, sent to labour camps and after the war forcibly repatriated to be again imprisoned and tortured. The images, large, bold monochrome faces, eschewing detail but capturing despair and depression were so powerful that they challenged and shattered the intimacy of the space. The collection is the work of seven years, and the artist refuses to sell individual large pieces because he feels that the entire collection constitutes a single work that would be lessened by the loss of a singe piece. I understand his point. After speaking with the artist and the gallery owners we rode back to camp for lunch and a nap before heading off to La Jonquera to see more of the artist's work. At a museum commemorating the exiles a large mural was especially moving. After viewing the exhibit, we spoke to the person manning the desk. It turns out that she was a committed Catalan separatist. There is a referendum on separation from Spain scheduled for the fall, but the constitution of Spain does not allow for one so what will happen remains to be seen. The discussion was interesting and enlightening. The regions of Spain each have a significant degree of independence and what seemed to bother the museum lady, was that Catalonia had no greater independence than any other region. She seemed to think that only the Catalans and Basques had a sufficiently strong culture to warrant special treatment and that it was the lack of special status that motivated the desire for separation. We drove the back roads, mostly on one lane dirt tracks between low stone walls, through boulder strewn pastures, olive groves, vineyards, pine plantations, abandoned terraces, and scrub lands. Many of the hillsides were stepped with 1 to 1.5 m stone walled terraces, hand built over who knows how many generations to keep the coarse rocky soil in place and to gradually build in depth. Sadly, many are reverting to scrub forest, the walls failing, and reflect a passing lifestyle.  At the small village square at Cantallops were trees, their stems wrapped in brightly colored, striped knit stockings, parents with small children dressed in Halloween style costumes, a stilt walker and clowns; clearly a party but whether just a local celebration or something more we did not discover.  At the edge of town a luxury hotel/resort and restaurant, modern country homes, and renovated modernized old country homes were a contrast to the old stone village. Back at camp the wind continued to howl, stirring up swarm of biting, stinging dust and sand that sent the campers still foolish enough to sit outside back into their caravans and motor homes. Fortunately, we were pitched on the edge of the campsite, next to a pasture, so we did not get the dust, only the howl of the wind and the shaking and snapping of our canvas.
Downtown Capmany Vineyard behind Capmany Her flowers softened the stone walls and cobblestone streets. Gallery at Capmany Returning to camp Party at Cantallops
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
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March 15, Capmany --> La Jonquera -->

Cantallops

We awoke to bright sunlight and to strong, persistent, and intensely irritating winds. I unfolded our bikes and despite the wind’s strength and obnoxious persistence (at least it was warm), we set off to explore the village of Capmany. Strong tail winds, pushed us down winding hills and into the town. These folding bikes are twitchy little things with their small wheels, and high centre of gravity. Combined with our lack of experience on them, the strong tail winds, and the downhill ride we were more than a little apprehensive of both our safety and our dignity, but we arrived at Capmany with life, limb, and dignity intact. To the locals, there is nothing special about Capmany, it is but one of many such small vil- lages, pictur- esque links to a passing way of life. Surrounded by olive groves, vineyards, pine plantations, pasture, and scrublands, the vil- lage sprouts small vegetable and flower gar- dens amidst the stone walls and cobblestone streets. But coming from the vastness of the Canadian west coast where a rapidly changing, ultramodern city of glass towers grows, sur- rounded by urban sprawl, rich agricultural lands, and mountain wilderness; and where 100-year-old buildings are considered herit- age, Capmany is another world. Centuries old homes, little changed on the outside cast a spell on the New World mind, drawing it into a tem- poral continuity going back millennia. To be sure there are scattered, brightly coloured cars parked wherever, power lines run down the streets and into the houses, the church bells tolling the hours and half hours are automated, and young folk thumb their smart phones, but round a corner, pass through a stone arch barely wide enough for one small car, and look down a street seeing nothing but centuries old stone and cobbles, an old woman, stooped with age, dressed in blue smock tending the narrow planters between her home and the street and you are in another time and another world. And in this small, out of the way, stone village, in a small stone house near the church, we happened upon an small, elegant art gallery. Run by a couple from Girona. It is located in her father's old home, now converted to an intimate gallery where they support local artists. Inside was a powerful exhibition by Guerrero Medina, paintings inspired by photographs of the Spanish exiles forced to leave Spain after the civil war, many caught up in the Second World War, imprisoned, sent to labour camps and after the war forcibly repatriated to be again imprisoned and tortured. The images, large, bold monochrome faces, eschewing detail but capturing despair and depression were so powerful that they challenged and shattered the intimacy of the space. The collection is the work of seven years, and the artist refuses to sell individual large pieces because he feels that the entire collection constitutes a single work that would be lessened by the loss of a singe piece. I understand his point. After speaking with the artist and the gallery owners we rode back to camp for lunch and a nap before heading off to La Jonquera to see more of the artist's work. At a museum commemorating the exiles a large mural was especially moving. After viewing the exhibit, we spoke to the person manning the desk. It turns out that she was a committed Catalan separatist. There is a referendum on separation from Spain scheduled for the fall, but the constitution of Spain does not allow for one so what will happen remains to be seen. The discussion was interesting and enlightening. The regions of Spain each have a significant degree of independence and what seemed to bother the museum lady, was that Catalonia had no greater independence than any other region. She seemed to think that only the Catalans and Basques had a sufficiently strong culture to warrant special treatment and that it was the lack of special status that motivated the desire for separation. We drove the back roads, mostly on one lane dirt tracks between low stone walls, through boulder strewn pastures, olive groves, vineyards, pine plantations, abandoned terraces, and scrub lands. Many of the hillsides were stepped with 1 to 1.5 m stone walled terraces, hand built over who knows how many generations to keep the coarse rocky soil in place and to gradually build in depth. Sadly, many are reverting to scrub forest, the walls failing, and reflect a passing lifestyle.  At the small village square at Cantallops were trees, their stems wrapped in brightly colored, striped knit stockings, parents with small children dressed in Halloween style costumes, a stilt walker and clowns; clearly a party but whether just a local celebration or something more we did not discover.  At the edge of town a luxury hotel/resort and restaurant, modern country homes, and renovated modernized old country homes were a contrast to the old stone village. Back at camp the wind continued to howl, stirring up swarm of biting, stinging dust and sand that sent the campers still foolish enough to sit outside back into their caravans and motor homes. Fortunately, we were pitched on the edge of the campsite, next to a pasture, so we did not get the dust, only the howl of the wind and the shaking and snapping of our canvas.
Downtown Capmany Vineyard behind Capmany Her flowers softened the stone walls and cobblestone streets. Gallery at Capmany Returning to camp Party at Cantallops
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map