Posts Tagged Spanish

La Illeta Dels Banyets

yacimiento-arqueologicoEL CAMPELLO is a delightful town, in the heart of the Spanish Costa Blanca.  Situated about half an hour away from Alicante and an hour away from Benidorm, it has a population of around 26,000.  El Campello is home to a few English speaking folks – but it’s light years away from those who live, work and holiday in Alicante and Benidorm. 

As the town’s web-site – http://www.elcampello.es/index.php?s=campello_hoy&i=en – notes, it’s a ‘traditional fishing village which has known how to transform itself, without losing its roots, in to a first rate tourist town.’

Indeed, it’s where a lot of Spanish folks go for their holidays.  And it’s easy to see why – there’s over 14 miles (23 kilometres) of beautiful beaches which are effectively given a ‘manicure’ early every morning.  In addition to this the whole beach front is immaculate.  In fact it’s so neat and tidy you’d be hard pressed to find any litter at all. 

If you’re into history and culture, one of the highlights of El Campello is an archaeological site known as La Illeta Dels Banyets, sometimes known as the Queen’s Bathing Pools.

Earlier this year my wife and I visited the town.  We were aware of the La Illeta and wanted to visit it.  We were really lucky as our visit coincided with the twentieth anniversary of the opening of El Campello’s Tourist Information Office.  To mark the occasion, some visitor attractions were open free of charge – including the La Illeta.  Happy days!

I’ll let the town’s aforementioned web-site explain the significance of the site:

Located in a small peninsula, at the foot of the Watchtower, an archaeological site can be found which is, without a doubt, the most important of the Mediterranean. These lands were separated from the coast by an earthquake of an unknown date, and during the 30’s of the last century were artificially reunited with the land. The first excavations were carried out by F. Figueras Pacheco between 1931 and 35 and, during the decade of the 70’s, by E. A. Llobregat. These works confirmed the existence on this site of different civilisations and cultures, with the Roman, the Iberian, and the Bronze Era being the most significant, and so we can date the site as being over 5,000 years old.

From the Iberian era vessels, weapons, tombs and ceramic remains have been found, as well as singular buildings which lead us to believe that significant production and trade activity took place in relation to other Mediterranean cultures between the second and fourth Centuries B.C.

From the Roman era small thermal baths have been found which belonged to a disappeared agricultural village and, linked to this and to others nearby, some fish-farm hatcheries cut into the rock. Despite the erosion, the pools can still be made out, connected to the sea, in which the fish were farmed. These constructions (els Banyets) give their name to the site because according to word of mouth tradition they were the bathing pools of a Moorish queen.

The site is currently supervised by the Museo Arqueológico de Alicante (Marq), which is in charge of is museumisation.’

We both found La Illeta really interesting.  There were detailed information boards everywhere.  Even by the plants – which somehow are able to survive the reasonably arid conditions in this part of the world – had information boards!  It provided a fascinating glimpse into the past.  We both found ourselves thinking that we have it really easy compared to the lives our European ancestors lived.

My wife was particularly interested in the wine making area which dated back to the Iberian era.  As a wine lover, she wondered how our ancestors ‘came across’ wine.  Indeed, how did they work out how to make it – was it completely by accident or did someone deliberately set out to do it?  I’m not really into wine at all, but even I started to wonder if wine has always tasted the same or did it evolve over the years? I presume environmental changes and modern production methods would have some bearing on the matter – if so, is there any way that the ‘original’ taste of wines throughout the ages could be recreated?

During our time on La Illeta we came across one of the assistants talking in French to a young girl.  We presumed she was an archaeology student as she was taking copious notes whilst the assistant was going into great detail and both were taking a very close look at some of the ruins.

We really enjoyed our time there.  However, I thought that maybe even a small ‘living history’ museum near the site would have been useful.  I would have really like to seen full size mock-ups of the buildings, characters in various period costumes and maybe an audio visual display providing a history of the general area. 

La Illeta is one of the most prominent features along the El Campello coast line.  Others include a modern marina, nautical club and fish market.  Overlooking this area is La Illeta Watchtower.  It’s a very impressive and a fairly substantial defensive position dating back to the sixteenth century and built to warn against raids from Berber Pirates.  As mentioned earlier, some form of museum could provide a link between all of these features – a real delight for all history buffs and culture vultures!

La Illeta is well, well worth a visit.  However, a word to the wise – it’s surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean Sea which provides a lovely – but deceiving – breeze.  Believe it or not it’s easy to get roasted by the sun without actually noticing it.  Our tip is to use plenty of the highest factor sun cream you can get hold of – you have been warned!

Reviewed by John Field

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Costa Blanca News

costa-blanca-news-1

Costa Blanca News. Serving the English speaking community in Spain for over 40 years.

Costa Blanca News

Costa Blanca News
TOWARDS the end of last year some of my extended family and I spent a fortnight near Allicante on the Costa Blanca. The Costa Blanca – the ‘White Coast’ – itself covers around 120 miles of beautiful Mediterranean coastline in South East Spain. It runs from from Dénia in the north to Pilar de la Horadada in the South. It’s known as Spain’s most popular year-round holiday area.

According to one popular English language web-site (1) the Costa Blanca runs “along the province of Alicante, it can be divided into two clearly distinct areas of scenery: to the North, a curtain of mountains running closely parallel to the sea, dropping away to form sheer cliffs and secluded pebble coves: to the South, a vast plain of sands, dunes, palm groves and saltpans make up a backdrop for the beaches.”

One day, and out of the blue, we decided to visit Benidorm – sometimes called the ‘Manhattan of Spain’ because of its skyline – which was about 20 odd miles away from where we were staying. As noted in an earlier review (2) of the well-known holiday resort, “I’d heard a lot about this popular holiday resort – good, bad and indifferent – and I wanted to see what it was like first hand.” However, I was disappointed with Benidorm. For me, it had “just about enough to remind us that we were in Spain.”

However, one bright spot was the number of English language papers available. I get myself into a bit of a routine when it comes to picking up local papers. As I noted sometime ago, it doesn’t matter “where the paper is from – anywhere in the English speaking world does me just fine.” (2)

Allicante, Anti-PC, Battles, Benidorm, British, Buildings, Capitalism, Castles, CB Live, Celebrations, Charities, Clubs, Costa Blanca, Costa Blanca News, Counter Culture, Cultures, Customs, Danish, Darkness, Dénia, Albert Einstein, English, Enlightenment, Exploitation, Finestrat, Governments, Gig Guide, Globalism, Harmonious, Heritage, History, Indigenous, It's All In Your Mind, Jihadis, L'Alfàs del Pi, Leftist, Liberal, Lies, Loose Women, Los Alcázares, Losing You, Rosa Luxemburg, Manhattan, Manipulation, Market Days, Karl Marx, Med TV Guide, Mediterranean, Mod/Punk, Moors and Christians Festivals, Multicultural, Oppression, Parades, Pilar de la Horadada, Politically Correct, Posers, Racism, Rotherham, Sex Abuse Gangs, Spain, Spanish, Sport, Joe Strummer, Theatre, The Brit Scene, The Clash, The Jam, The Movement, The Who, Third Millennium Fascists, Traditional, Truth, Vox Pop, War, Paul Weller, What’s On, White Coast, World, Barry Wright, You Tube

A Spanish travel guide’s map of the Costa Blanca. Because of its climate it is one of Spain’s main holiday destinations.

Probably the best paper that I came across on my visit to Benidorm was the Costa Blanca News. Produced on a weekly basis it has going for over 40 years and serves “the English speaking community in Spain.” My issue covered the period 5 – 11 September 2014. At €2 for 110 pages plus a free 32 page Med TV Guide I thought that it was fantastic value.

Like all local papers, the Costa Blanca News covers a little bit of everything – and more! I was really surprised at the number of features it carried. These included The Brit Scene, Vox Pop and Loose Women. I was also particularly impressed by the dozen or so pages devoted to both Spanish and British sporting events. And although the paper seems to be predominately centred around what’s happening in Benidorm, I was pleased to note that small towns – such as L’Alfàs del Pi, Finestrat and Los Alcázares – were also featured in a news round up.

Of great interest was the What’s On guide. It consisted of nearly 30 pages and was sub-divided into several sections including an alphabetically arranged town listing section, market days, gig guide, theatre, clubs and charities.

Two features in the Costa Blanca News stood out for me – The Brit Scene by an unnamed author and CB Live by Barry Wright. The former included an anti-PC polemic whilst the second was a look at the oh-so ‘right on’ Danish mod/punk band, The Movement. Ironically, both took what appeared to be diametrically opposing views, but I enjoyed them none-the-less!

The Brit Scene’s first two paragraphs set the scene of its anti-PC article:

“The World is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.

This – or something very similar – was said by Albert Einstein and it is very significant in today’s climate of sex abuse gangs, jihadis, weak governments and the liberal pursuit of a harmonious multicultural society.”

The article expanded on these themes and in particular how the fear of being called a ‘racist’ effectively paralysed all state agencies thus allowing the Rotherham sex scandal to continue unchecked. I found much of this article very interesting – although it didn’t say anything that I didn’t know – but sadly it didn’t prescribe any cure to any of Britain’s ills.

The feature on The Movement also caught my eye. A highly political band, the trio’s musical influences include The Jam, The Who and The Clash. Politically their influences “range from Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Marx to Joe Strummer and Paul Weller.”

I enjoyed their polemic on Globalism: “There’s a new and constantly growing generation of young kids interested in political questions, expressing deep fundamental criticism and rejection of the global effects of capitalism and its mechanisms of exploitation, war and oppression – young people searching for truth and enlightenment in times of total manipulation, lies and darkness.”

Despite this The Movement offered no answer to the menace of Globalism! Are they just anti-Capitalist posers, full of ‘leftist’ empty rhetoric? (Personally, some of the most strident critiques of capitalism that I’ve read recently have come from people who’d describe themselves as ‘Third Millennium Fascists.’) Maybe they should just stick to music – check them out on YouTube, and look out for excellent tracks like Losing You and It’s All In Your Mind

When I was in Benidorm I looked out for any signs of history, heritage and culture but couldn’t find much on offer. Therefore I was intrigued to read in the Costa Blanca News about the Moors and Christians Festivals. (4) The pictures and reports looked amazing – this is something that I’ll have to see in person!

I love the various indigenous cultures of the world. Indeed, I think that articles looking at famous battles, castles, buildings, traditional parades and celebrations around the world would make an excellent mini-series for Counter Culture. Maybe we should kick off with a report of the forthcoming Moors and Christians Festival in September? Indeed, I think that I’ll use that as an excuse for visiting the Costa Blanca again! Until next time then …

O YOU can check out the web-site of Costa Blanca News here http://www.costa-news.com/ its Facebook page of here https://www.facebook.com/pages/Costa-Blanca-News/152894188104472 and follow its Twitter feed here: https://twitter.com/costablancanews
(1) http://www.in-costablanca.com/
(2) https://countercultureuk.com/2014/10/20/two-weeks-in-spain/
(3) https://countercultureuk.com/2013/10/26/majorca-daily-bulletin/
(4) http://www.travelinginspain.com/spain_festivals/moors_christian.htm

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CD Review: Àrnica – Viejo Mundo CD (Percht)

ÀrnicaViejo Mundo CD (Percht)

Click on image to buy this CD

 

HAVE YOU ever touched a pig?  A living, breathing, snouting, snuffling pig, that is, not one that’s been turned into bacon, sausages, ham and other tasty pork products? When you lay your hand on a pig, try patting its flanks, rubbing its snout, and scratching it behind the ears (pigs love this as much as cats do).  You’ll find its skin surprisingly warm – like humans, pigs have no effective furry insulation, so they get cold easily – and rough in texture.  The hair they do have is very coarse and springy – it’s used for making artists’ brushes and shaving brushes.  The reason I mention this is because Àrnica’s debut album Viejo Mundo (Old World) features several pictures of wild boar.  Now, I’ve never touched a live boar – they’re much less common than farm pigs, and have a nasty reputation for unpredictable aggressiveness besides – but I’ve handled tanned boar hides, and they are a lot tougher and hairier than pig skins.  The kind of qualities that are evoked when I think of the tactile qualities of pig and boar skins – their roughness, their heat, their fierce vitality – are exactly the qualities that I find in Àrnica’s music.

I first encountered Àrnica in the middle of 2008, at the Madrid Le Blanc neo-folk festival (my scene report from the festival can be found elsewhere on Judas Kiss).   This was the first ever live performance of the Barcelona-based trio, and they had no recordings available at the time, so no-one really knew what to expect from them, but their shamanic presentation of primal Pyrenean folk made a deep impression.  I said at the time that this band obviously belonged on the Ahnstern label, and 2009 saw my prediction fulfilled.  Àrnica’s first couple of releases, the self-released Live In Sintra CD-R and a split 10” with Wolfsblood on the American label Pesanta (reviewed elsewhere on Judas Kiss) were swiftly followed with South European Folk Compendium, a split release on Ahnstern shared with Svarrogh and Défilé Des Âmes, and now this debut album on Percht, the Sturmpercht-related subdivision of Ahnstern.

 

Viejo Mundo contains 12 songs, totalling 43 minutes, with lyrics delivered in a mixture of Spanish and Catalan.  Àrnica, in common with other Ahnstern bands such as Sangre Cavallum, Sturmpercht and Svarrogh, have a highly developed sense of ethnic identity and love of the folk traditions of their homeland.  There are no English translations provided, which does mean that it’s difficult for non-Spanish speakers to appreciate the lyrics on a literary level.  On the deeper emotional level, however, it’s not necessary to be able to understand the literal meaning of the words in order to tune in to the primordial, nostalgic atmospheres evoked by the music.  Most of the instruments used are acoustic, and they include guitar, accordion, mouth harp, bodhran drums, tambourine and other hand percussion, horns and flute, variously played by Dani, Saul and Carles.  A guest musican, Raul Guerrero, contributes gaita, or Catalonian bagpipes, to a few tracks.  A couple of songs, Urogallo and Hijo De Deva, employ samples, but these are quite subtle and unobtrusive, never overwhelming the rough-hewn, organic quality of the music.

The album opens with Última Hoguera, a sound-montage of field recordings – footsteps, creaking doors, crackling flames, a lonely flute melody – and narration delivered by an old man.  This is evidently a framing narrative – ‘a tale narrated by an old man as his last legacy to a casual traveller’, according to the press release – but as noted before, without knowing Spanish, it’s hard to understand this.  This leads into the first proper song, Ilmatar, a gentle guitar melody punctuated with deep chanted vocal refrains.  Ilmater is a Finnish goddess, air spirit and mother of Väinämöinen, so I’m not really sure what this has to do with ancient Iberian culture, though the song itself is very pleasant.  The clicking wooden percussion, wheezing accordion, and theremin-like background samples of Urogallo recall the work of Àrnica’s Catalan compatriot Ô Paradis.

Danzas De Guerra (War Dance) is a stirring Celtiberian battle-hymn, using Catalan bagpipes and bodhran, very much in the style of Sangre Cavallum, who use Gallician pipes.  Bagpipes also dominate the later track Caballos Solares (Horses of the Sun), alongside stentorian shouted vocals and thunderous side-drums, making this the album’s noisiest track, and one of its best as well.  Tu Tierra and El Trashumante are both quite gentle accordion-based songs, the latter adding clanking cow-bell, but sandwiched between them is Hijo De Deva, which uses layers of droning horns, deep chanted vocals and hollow drum beats to produce ur-folk quite similar to Waldteufel.

Aguarda (Wait) is perhaps Viejo Mundo’s most delicate song, a lilting ballad with plucked Spanish guitar, tambourine and twanging mouth harp.  Tormenta is a tribute to the Austrian industrial folk band Allerseelen, ‘grabada en directo en el bosque’ (‘recorded live in the forest’), complete with chirping cicadas.  Gerhard of Allerseelen also witnessed Àrnica’s performance in Madrid, and was mightily impressed – he contributed Viejo Mundo’s cover photo of wild boars in the forest, and I believe he played a part in securing Àrnica’s deal with Ahnstern.  Galdr, like Hijo De Deva, recalls Waldteufel with its background sounds of crackling flames, eerie chanted vocals, dry rattling drums, and wavering flute melody.  The album closes with Tu Miedo (Your Fear), a disquieting track of hypnotic beats, low drones, distant flute, and the cawing of crows.

 

Overall, Viejo Mundo is an excellent debut album, brimming with confidence and vitality.  Anyone who enjoys the ethnically-rooted heathen folk of bands like Sangre Cavallum, Sturmpercht, Svarrogh, Waldteufel or Hagalaz’ Runedance will easily warm to Àrnica.  Àrnica may be a relatively new band, but the old world they evoke is at once both enchantingly strange and strangely familiar – they are tapping into very deep wellsprings of ancestral spirits and folk memory.  Close your eyes, relax into the music, and you can almost feel that boar-flesh grunting and heaving beneath your fingers.  So warm, so earthy, so full of life.

 

There’s also a 200-copy wooden box edition of Viejo Mundo, which comes with extra inserts and a bonus 3” CD containing exclusive collaborations with Dimo Dimov of Svarrogh, Max Percht of Sturmpercht, and folk singer and Sol Invictus member Andrew King.

www.myspace.com/arnicaband

www.steinklang-records.at

www.myspace.com/ahnstern


Reviewed by Simon Collins. Reprinted with acknowledgements to Judas Kiss web-zine.

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