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Por fin (finally), wifi...I must be an has been 5 days!
4 julio ¡Feliz día de la independencia! We got to this town on Thursday, it is Monday and finally we are down in la plaza, and there is free wifi (pronounced WEE-fee here in the hills. In Madrid it was said to me in the English pronounciation!) throughout the plaza. We are sitting in La Panadería-Pastelería-Cafetería Enrique Negre (a bakery-pastry-caf, we had un pastel de chocolate, y magdalenas, which are little breakfast cupcake-muffins. I tried to paste a foto here of L&S in la cafeteria, but now I realize I can’t stick photos here without paying extra, so they are on facebook. Below I have a bunch of things that have happened to us since we got to Madrid. 29 junio We spent half the day getting from Barajas to Hotel Mediodía. The other half, we miraculously stuck it out for much longer than expected. I had previously contacted and made plans with my sole friend in Madrid, Jorge Gómez. I met him almost 20 years ago while living here and studying to complete a Master’s degree. Ok, yes, we dated back then, and Eric was understandably a bit hurt, but it was half our lives ago. Also, when you have a friend in a faraway place, you call when you are planning to visit! I had thought we would walk in el Parque del Retiro (big huge beautiful Central Park-style park) and see a couple paintings in el Prado, but Jorge ended up taking us to his and his girlfriend’s piso (flat), in the outskirts, to a town called Manzanares el Real, 30 miles north of Madrid. They fed us sopa de lentejas con arroz. Jorge and Maribel met because they both love to rock climb. There is an amazing reserve there of mountains made up mostly of rock, called la Pedreza. This is what brought them together, and I can see why. It is beautiful, and a rock climber’s dream. We also met Maribel’s mother and their two hens! We didn’t climb, but had the opportunity to walk a bit along the river, at the base of la Pedreza, and Lucia went in. We all got at least a little bit wet. It was a fairly hot day, and we had been on the move a lot. The river, along with lunch, was exactly what we needed. Simon climbed big rocks near the river. The two of them ended up climbing the rocks along the path back to the car. It was about 8 pm when we got back to our hotel. Lucia delighted in Spongebob, Madagascar cartoons, and I, Carly in peninsular Spanish. She would suddenly laugh at key times, commenting that certain events were really funny in Spanish! I wonder why…? I have always felt that the sound of an outburst in Spanish is extremely convincing… 30 junio 2011 9:50 a.m. We are traveling at 299 km/hr on el AVE (Alta Velocidad España) train, on our way to Valencia, where we will pick up another train for Castellón, and from there we will catch a bus to Lucena del Cid. Simon and Lucia are little powerhouses. We woke up this morning, looked over the plaza (two terrazas, or balconies, open up to the view and morning air! It was a triple, spotless, new bathroom, free wifi, outdated but all we needed, €86!), cleaned up, packed the huge maletas, then down the ascensor y al estación de ferrocarril, Atocha. The station used to be called Mediodía; that must be where our hotel got its name. 1:30 pm Pablo met us at the side of the bus saying “Estoy reciclando, ¡tengo que lavarme las manos antes de saludaros!” or, “I am recycling, I have to wash my hands before greeting you!” And he went and rinsed his hands in the natural spring that is tapped in the center of the plaza. That was the first image we had of Lucena del Cid! Bea and Pablo’s place is at the top of a mountain, not a hill, at the end of the road. Views in all directions. Terraced farmland, picturesque. It is totally safe for kids and pets, I am so happy they will be able to run wild! It is an estate, the land used to be owned by a woman named Madalena, a few centuries ago. The restaurant and hotel rooms (4) were built more recently. Bea y Pablo came here about 6 ½ years ago. 1 julio 5:37 p.m. We went to bed at midnight last night. It gets dark here at around 10:15. Yesterday there was a group of kids of all ages here, from babies to ages 12 or so, because friends of Bea y Pablo’s had gotten a bunch of their friend’s children together to do a week-long camp, full of all cool ecological things to learn and do. They came last night to see the new horse, Artax, who has recently been added to the family of animals here. Also they came to make pizza for dinner and have the grown-ups bake it in the wood-burning oven. I can’t say enough about these people. Not even a day passed and I felt comfortable. Everything they do with such care, with the type of consciousness I hope to develop more and more in my own life. It is a small town of around 1500 people or so. Bea ran down to the plaza for a municipal meeting yesterday to raise funds and figure out a name for a library for their town. They have to travel an hour to get to the nearest library, in Castellón. They mean to get things done around here, to improve their community’s existence. They are educated and have chosen to simplify life, out here in the country. Not to become extremely rich, but to live well. 2-3 julio The rest of friday I spent learning about feeding the animals and caring for them, e.g. mostly cleaning the corrals and caring for Artax, applying natural bug repellent on him. The kids’ daily job is to help with feeding. Before anything we gather wild alfalfa from around , dandylion (diente de león!), and another wild plant that the rabbit Luna loves. We feed these to Luna and her babies (who can enter and exit whenever they want, they fit through the chain link fence). The other animals, the chickens and ducks, also get some of the greens. But we also give the ducks a mixture of water and wheat casings, the chickens get the leftover human food as well as wheat and corn, and the rabbits get a mixture of varied rabbit food. They all have their water checked and changed if necessary. We don’t have to feed the goats, donkey and sheep, but Artax gets fed twice a day. Then I get to send the kids to go play while I clean the sheep, donkey, goat corrals, and the chicken coop. In the coop, I scoop and mix their buggy poop in to the area where they are picking at various and sundry other things. They pick and pick and eat all the bugs, and all of this together, keeping in mind all of the food is organic, makes for a damn good egg. We gather any eggs that have been laid and bring them up to the fridge. All the manure goes in a compost heap, and I clean up any pee by spreading dry dirt over it and then sweeping up. I think this process could take 2-4 hours, depending on starting time, re: how the weather is. Saturday we rode Artax, the big white horse they only have just acquired 2 weeks ago. I have not ridden much, but he is the tallest horse I have mounted. He is simultaneously beautiful and frightening. Lucia has had experience with horses, at a riding camp a few summers ago, and feels confident in her abilities with horses, so naturally she was let down when Pablo walked her and Artax around the meadow. There will be many more chances. ☺ 3 julio I am getting really good at cleaning poop! Started weeding the potted plants around the house/hotel/restaurant entrance.


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