Spanish Autonomous communities

Spain is comprised of 17 autonomous communities:

Castile y Leon
La Rioja
Pais Vasco

With two autonomous cities in Africa:
Ceuta (Morocco)
Melilla (Morocco)

These communities harbor cultural and lingual differences that are the fundamental challenges of modern day Spain.  Many different cultures have influenced the country and placed their stamp on the land.  Neanderthal, Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Celt, Iberic, Occidental, Muslim, Judaic, etc…  The diverse influences are everywhere.  It is a nation rich in heritage.

These autonomous communities are divided further into provinces, and these are divided into comarcas, or counties which consist of the various municipalities.

Spain also has a large number of UNESCO World Heritage sites.   Forest parks and Roman ruins join walled towns and monasteries as part of a list of 44 currently designated sites.

Abandoned farmsteads litter the countryside.  Each of them are historic in their own right, but I can only list those that may have a stronger historic significance, such as an important person having lived there.  It is impossible to see everything in a lifetime, let alone a week, a month, or a year.

Lastly, there are literally thousands of churches, monasteries and hermitages, as well.  Too many to list with limited gb resources.  If you go to a town in Spain, it will have several churches (Romanesque and Gothic), a convent and a monastery somewhere nearby.  The hermitages lie nestled up in the hills.

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Growing Pains

So, you know, I got to thinking about this whole Spanish historical sites blog concept and came to a conclusion:  ‘What the hell do you really know about Spain anyway?’  ‘You’ve never been there, you just pore over tons of information, scour Google Earth obsessively (to a point of knowing what the towns look like very well) and read the historical pages.’  Certainly I have read and read, pored and clicked, but what do I really know?  Jack shit. 

That forced me to reappraise exactly what I wanted my blog to be.  I want it to be a guide for how I approach my own visit(s) to Spain in the future.  A How-to, a Coast Pilot, a What to Expect When You’re Touring Spain.  So, that’s what it will be.  A guide for me.  If someone else wants to glean info from it, I hope it helps.

As I have said before, I have studied up on Catalunya the most and that is where I intend to go first.  I will start there, but I am not sure if I should start my blog alphabetically, or start in a certain section and work my way up and over, or out and down, etc.  Just doing Catalunya’s resources should take about a year.  There is just so much to do and see.  It’s really a beautiful place, and very rich with heritage sites.

I really just can’t wait to go there.

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Espana, Spain, Hispania.   The history of this beautiful country is captivating to me.  You can explore prehistoric cave art, visit a poblat Iberic, or tread the remains of a Roman era villa in search of the spirits of the people who delivered to us the patrimony of this great land.

Regrettably, I have never been to Spain…  I have traveled through England, France, Italy and Greece, but have missed the opportunity to spend time in Spain.  I am planning to visit the country when I have more money and time, hopefully, in the next few years.

Being an extreme ancient history buff, I can spend hours researching and reading about the history, castles and archaeology in Europe.  The sheer beauty and quality of the historical resources of Spain have lead me to concentrate my energy there.

So, in planning this future trip, I have begun to amass the information necessary to create a concise, thorough route to optimize the allotted time and monetary constraints.  I want to be able to go there with the specific purpose of seeing as many archaeological sites, castles and Roman sites as possible.  However, there is also the off chance that I will like it so much, that I feel compelled to stay longer than planned!  I am inclined to these impulsive behaviors.  ADD, dyslexia… be damned!

The Internet has become a treasure chest of information on virtually every topic.  International history and travel are very well represented.  Naturally, there are scads of websites dedicated to Spain.  Annotated, interactive maps, town webpages, and, of course, Wikipedia bring us a glimpse of the quantity and quality of the information available online.  But, one thing I have noticed is a distinct lack of a comprehensive listing of every piece of patrimony, under one domain.  Mind you, I could be missing something very huge.  A place where every site in the entire country is listed, alphabetically, with colloquial cross-referencing capability.  I haven’t seen a site quite like this yet, so it would be helpful if someone were to direct me to this Spanish historical Utopia.  It would save a heck of a lot of clicks.

So, now that I know what I want to see, I would like to create this place.  It needs to be a website where one can easily find every archaeological site and castle, each poblat, that one cova that he or she is looking for.  This would take years to gather, really, but, that’s worth the effort.  It’s a beautiful country, with a rich background, deserving of a reasonable account of it’s heritage, that’s easily gleaned by a computer geek like me.

Next would be planning the actual order of the pages.  Do I go by comarca, or by province?  Do I go region?  Catalunya, Pais Vasco, Asturias, etc.?  Or do I start with the letter A?  Do I blog it, adding a new town everyday?  Or do I webpage it?

I am thinking that if I blog it, I would start with Catalunya, since that is the area I have concentrated most of my studies thus far.

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So… Long Time No Blog
It’s not that I have been busy or anything, and it’s not like anyone is actually reading it, anyway. Yes, there is this job thing that I go to on a frequent basis. That’s been keeping me relatively busy…  Otherwise I would just be sitting in front of the computer all day, reading about soccer and Catalan castles.  Been doing some painting, some Scrabbling on the side and reading my Twitter feed. Also spending several evenings a week at the soccer fields.

There are a few things that have taken a back seat in recent months – guitar, horses, cycling, gardening.  Uggghh.  Just watering the plants has become a chore. Things are just so difficult right now. Just getting out of bed (the couch) takes more than I am capable of giving most days, but I have to press on.


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Spring Is Here… and it’s January

The All-Star break came and went, and so did the Red Sox. The catastrophe that was September, the subsequent gutting (figuratively and emotionally) of the team, and a quiet winter break bring us to the current uncertainties, with pitchers and catchers reporting in a few short weeks. At some point in March, a group of my lady buddies and I will make the hike to Fort Myers for a mom’s weekend away from the hullabaloo, to catch a game and some rays. Do a little unwinding…  We will be making a side stop at Anthony Chinaglia’s new restaurant, Osetra.  And perhaps some hair and nails…

One of these lady buddies lost her father this week. The funeral was yesterday. As the three shot volley was fired and the bugle sounded his final Taps, I wept for my fellow serviceman.  When Angie and Keith came into our lives, so did her dad, Tom.  Tom was a retired Marine.  He served honorably in Vietnam and his exposure to agent orange, while there, would eventually lead to leukemia.  That, coupled with liver disease, led to his passing.  Tom became a dear friend to us.  Identifying my former service as honorable (thankfully!) and seeing my husband as a kindred spirit in all things mechanical, combustible and edible, we became a part of his massive circle of friends. He hired me to garden the pool area at his multi-million dollar entertainment complex/homestead. It was an honor to work for Tom.

Even though I only served in the Coast Guard for eight years, I felt that he respected me for it,  especially since I was a ship navigator and not some pencil pusher at a desk job in headquarters.  He definitely appreciated his women, his guns, his automobiles/boats/motorcycles/etc. and his wine.  His casket color is, befittingly, Merlot…

Unfortunately, his passing brings a significant loss of tip income to the wait staff of Jacksonville.  Some of his favorites were actually at the funeral.  That says a lot about a guy. He was a giver…  send gifts to Toys for Tots, in lieu of flowers…

We are having a remarkable January here in Switzerland. It’s in the mid-seventies. I have the hose running into the veggies, mesclun is sprouting, Lisa has eaten all of the good strawberries off of my plants, which she pulls out and drags across the yard for more dramatic effect. And I have fresh datil peppers ready for eatin’. Just snipped back the basil a bit, and need to trim back the thyme. Too much thyme on my hands! My snap dragons from last year are still going strong. I hate seeing these developments plant snapdragons in their landscapes and then pull them at the end of one season. Do they not realize that they keep going if you take care of them? I despise such conspicuous waste…

Someday, all of this waste will bite us all in the ass. Maybe not when I’m alive, or in my children’s time, but it will. And none of us will be around to say I’m sorry for ruining it for the future. We have so much in the past to learn from, and yet, so few people seem to be willing to do anything about it. Especially land developers. They are the WORST of all of us. Even the ones who conform to land use rules and mitigation projects. If they just left it alone to begin with, we wouldn’t have this issue. And all of the children from the plastic generation who won’t make the effort to reduce consumptive practices are not going to be able to look back and acknowledge how their buying habits enhanced the degradation process.

I would really like to have some chickens and a couple of goats. Eggs are a staple to a baker like me, and I have a special place in my heart for chevre. Someday, I will make this happen. Maybe I can board my brood at Cindy’s…
Need tomato cages… and bird seed… the crystal ball shows a trip to Ace in my near future.

And, so, tomorrow brings us a visit to SuperClassico town, yet again.  The Copa del Rey vuelta in Camp Nou should prove interesting, as the last week has brought fans at the Bernabeu whistling Mou, Marca reasserting divisions between the Portuguese and Spanish, with the sweet little Germans caught in between.  Wonder who they side with?  And Iker has to scrape these guys together every week and build a team.  Our Capitan must be growing weary of the strain of leading this group of amazingly talented individuals.

Right now, I am watching out my back window as tufted titmice dart through the air, catching newly swarmed flying ants.  The sun catches on their wings as they launch off the guest house and twirl around their prey.  I guess it isn’t good that we have flying ants swarming, but the birds are doing their job.

And my neighbor’s golden rain tree has truly become a total nuisance.  The seed pods are worse than ever this year and I don’t know that we have a chance of ever seeing the end of the carnage.  That tree is going down one of these days, at my hands.

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The All Star Break…

The three ugliest words in the Red Sox language.  The question always remains ‘Will the Sox take their usual post-Break swoon or will they prove us wrong, for once?!’  Like in ’04 and ’07.  Will we, yet again, bow to the Y&nk33s, or worse, the R@ys?  This trepidation is so constant, so familiar.  And this year, we have such amazingly electric bats, but the ‘pen… the ‘pen.  Even the starters are giving me fits.  Lackey (lacking)… Lester (onagain offagain)… DiceK (gonzo)… and I’m afraid to say it for fear of retribution… Waa waa wake wakef wuh wuh wuh Wakefield (aughhhhh) I get so frustrated with the club for hanging on to him.  He’s done.  He’s just not good enough and we march him out there, week after week, like a figurehead.  It’s embarrassing.  He’s Castro in a more colorful suit (oops- a bit too soon for that – sorry) the Queen of England in polyester knit and a boy’s cap.  (You just know she’s a closet Red Sox fan)  What do we do?  Who do we pick up off the wire to carry us into a tight stretch run?  Who is the man who will bring something to this party?

The Washington Nats have been on an upswing recently.  ‘

And the pre-season starts this week.  La Liga pre-season, that is!  The Becksillas reunion is on and fully dysfunctional already.  Still waiting for the epic first hug footage to come across the wires.  Although, I really don’t have access to those wires, someone who does will no doubt provide the rest of us with a gem.  I wonder if the Poshams have introduced Iker to the new baby yet?  ooh it may fill his head with ideas about Sara.  It may not be possible for her figure to accommodate another individual, but if Posh is capable of supporting an additional human life, chances are pretty good that SC can too.  More power to her, I just don’t think that Iker and SC would make very good looking babies.  We’ll just have to see, now, won’t we?


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Water Water Everywhere, and Not a Stop to Think

The next great human dilemma is, without a doubt, clean, fresh water.

The ancient peoples of the notoriously arid Mediterranean region were masters of water use and storage.  The Minoans, Romans, and Nabataeans, to name a few, built elaborate water storage systems to manage their extensive settlements.  Underground cisterns were essential to the survival of these people, especially in the desert and/or in times of drought.  Frequently, the only archaeological remains of many ancient buildings are the networks of vaulted cisterns that lay below the since plundered structures of a water conscious age.

These structures were created in a time where a ‘humane’ law, not one on paper, but more in the minds of the people, dictated that survival depended on building water storage facilities.  It would appear that now, in an age where aquifers are going saline across our planet, and land is undergoing desertification at an alarming rate, people may need to enact actual paper laws to mandate the use of rainwater storage systems.

Rainwater is one of the only pure sources left at our disposal, and nobody is being asked or told to capture it.  Gardeners, such as myself, are becoming keen on using downspout collection buckets.  I collect rainwater in buckets at various strategic locations around my home.  We have prodigious rains in summer time, almost every afternoon, and I feel that if we were to attempt to capture more of this resource, we would be able to significantly impact the current overuse of our Florida aquifer.

So, what we really should look into is making people aware of the necessity of capturing this resource through educational programs.  Politicians should look into mandating rainwater collection.  Builders should consider designing in currently available rubber collection bladders and cisterns into their plans and selling the concept to the consumer, who would be delighted to pay a little more on the front end to not pay the utilities on the back end, as is the case with solar energy and wind power.

Does any of this sound like a bad idea?  Why would a person not want to make this issue a priority?  Why are so many individuals still so reluctant to grab the reins and make a contribution to the health of our planet and it’s people?  This is important and we are missing the ball here, folks.

And don’t get me started on population control… which would actually have a significant impact on future water use and abuse.

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