Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Gitano guitar

Listening to Camarón de la Isla's Leyenda del Tiempo, the legendary and game-changing Flamenco album from 1979 transports me instantaneously back to an extremely hot day in the start of July this summer. On the extreme outskirts of Barcelona, having passed less and less tourist infiltrated barrios' on the train out from the Arc del Triomf metro station, we walked a mile or two down a dirt road back in the direction of the city centre, heading towards a petrol station, whose vague whereabouts I had managed to acquire via hitchwiki.org (an highly useful digital tool for hitch-hikers) .

Standing in the 40 degree heat, wearing a tee-shirt on my head and trying to thumb a lift South with the occasional traffic that passed through the rippling expanse of car park, I felt a tad ridiculous. Ridicule however, quickly turned to frustration and general disparagement. Sprinting over to the sole lorry parked up, the signs were promising, he was heading direction Tarragona, he could understand my pigeon Spanish but he only had space for one. We weren't desperate enough to split up so that lift never came to fruition.

Some time later, Juan in his van turned up, shades on, aircon blasting and moved his electrical goods into the back, making space for us up front. The feeling of moving after standing so still never fails to lift the spirits, and not having to extend our arms was a nice change as well. The music was just as encapsulating as the fact we had gotten the lift, it was competing against and winning the air conditioning for best vibrations in the small cabin. Juan fitted seamlessly into the imagery of the Flamenco conjured up, albeit with a modern twist. The rawness and energy of this mystical Spanish folk music made him speak up. The journey could have been a quiet one, Juan was perhaps not a man of many words, but he spoke with an apparent love of Camarón and his music. A love I was only later to discover resonated throughout almost the whole of Spain.

Was this Spain itself projected through the tinny speakers? Cigarette smoke wobbled from side to side in the cabin as Juan told us of the Gypsy's early demise through alcohol and drug addiction. Tragic, passionate, fiery and shrouded in mystery, I was in a semi-trance and only snapped out of it to make sure we exited at the right time in order to stay on track for Almeria, which is incidentally the birthplace of collaborator and fellow Gitano, Tomatito. As a parting gift, Juan offered us a CD, a copied disc in a rough plastic cover. I carried this gift throughout our 2 month hitch-hiking, volunteering and exploration adventure, managing to keep it safe and intact.

I played it when we arrived back in the UK, expecting a red and yellow wave of mystery and power to wash over me, instead I was greeted by terrible modern Spanish pop music with Euroclub beats blended together in some horrible musical comparison to Spain's current crisis. Perhaps Juan wanted to musically show us what Spain meant to him through Camarón de la Isla but also project the change that has occurred to his country to us when we arrived home. 

Camerón de la Isla - La Leyenda del Tiempo

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Reflecting on life without travel but with knowledge

Its been a long time since I have posted anything on this now seemingly decrepit blog, the journey I was busy typing up at one point is now a memory of ups, downs and reverberations that have seemingly rippled through the past few months, with changes in living circumstances, mindset and relationship status taking place.

The incense that burns slowly on top of a borrowed record player is a brief olfactory escape from the grey sky that blankets this corner of Leeds and does nothing much to enhance the higgledy piggledy roofs or to brighten the bin-filled alleyway that this rented room looks down onto.

Although the scenario may seem somewhat desolate, with paperwork regarding council tax benefits and ideal freezer temperature's strewn around this work surface that hasn't seen much work at all, a time of change is ahead, internally and externally. Feeling less cloudy headed by spending more time sober and running again for the first time in years is a definite boost.

One thing about getting 'older' is that not only do you find out what you like and can actively pursue it, but you realise that opportunities are there to be had, or in some cases to be lost. I find myself waking up after a heavy night involving some form of intoxication, feeling as if I have wasted my time and that there could have been productive things to be done instead. Being pro-active is something that I think most people struggle with from time to time, and although I still haven't found any way to solve this, I do feel more ready for everyday life, having faced challenges that not everyone would normally go through in the past year.

Reading is something that helps me stay in a frame of mind to actually do things, in a way it's a form of escapism from the problems of day to day life, but at the same time it's almost as if it is a change from the dreary routine and offers a different perspective on real life by immersing in something fictional or otherworldly altogether.

This summer, Christina and I will be going on an adventure that has been a long time coming, ever since our long meandering talks around the Christmas period and our strolls out on Ilkley moor, where strange rock carvings and even more mesmerising frozen waterfalls tickled the moist moss below. Back to the paradise that is Southern Spain, to show somebody who will truly appreciate the rugged beauty, sustainable lifestyle and ultimate freedom that I now associate with this part of the world. Then on to Italy, where hopefully we will avoid places like Campania, where the powerful underworld runs everything and see some of the beautiful countryside surrounding Christina's sisters dilapidated abode, which we will be (skilfully) renovating, with her artists touch, which can be seen on The Opposite Wall.   

Then onto new pastures, in the form of Bulgaria, which, according to the HelpX website has an influx of alternative thinkers and radicals surviving there, in what can only be described as fluctuating and unsure times for a lot of people. Why this is, I don't know, perhaps cheap land, or reverting back to the old ways, which I assume are still practised to a certain extent in this part of Eastern Europe. Either way, I am curious to see how this part of the world is, after visiting and thoroughly enjoying Serbia in 2011.

Although as always, all plans are subject to drastic change, this is a basic layout for the period between June and September, after which studying will be a concern of mine again, after a couple of years studying life, and how to go about wanting to learn, which is the main priority.

I will keep posting general thoughts, possible new music, some political ramblings and other crunchy little bulbs of goodness over the next few weeks.

Take it nicely.