Day 15 Almagro

imageSadly this is my last day in Almagro. Still looking into the logistics of the 2015 tour, the day was spent in exploring the museums I’d not been to before, viz the Casa de Pacas, the Lace Museum, and the Museo Etnografico, the Ethnographic Museum. The feature museum of Almagro is the National Theatre Museum and while it is truly splendid and deserving of another visit, it was not to be so for me on this occasion.

The Lace Museum is located in a lovely 3 storey casa off the Mayors Square. Lace making, linen work and embroidery is a traditional artesan art form throughout La Mancha, seemingly with each area having its particular designs and embellishments. Almagro has high art lacemaking and it’s not uncommon to pass a lace shop and see the shop keeper actually working with her bobbins while waiting for customers. Indeed it seems to be a rather meditational activity but with incredibly sophisticated patterns and coloured pins depicting the elements of the design.

On this visit, a group of schoolgirls were being taught the art and while photography of the exhibits was prohibited, I thought I might be able to photograph the next generation of lace makers. But when I asked the tutor, I received a negative response as the children were minors and their fathers were not there to grant permission.

As a wonderful addition to the lace, there was also an exhibition of the graphic art for the 400 year celebration publication of Cervantes’ Don Quixote (2004). Antonio Mingote is a highly esteemed Spanish artist, cartoonist and academic and this display consisted of copies of the chapter illustrations from among the 600 illustrations created for the auspicious edition.   The drawings were charming, utterly charming and often I found myself laughing out loud at the evocations.

My laughter however turned to misty whimsy when the museum attendant gifted me a small picture – they were not on sale – and when I looked at it, it is the scene of Quixote on his death bed with a tearful Sancho kneeling by the bed.  It immediately evoked the memory of that scene when I played Aldonza and Sancho and I were in exactly those positions – and all of a sudden there were tears rolling down my cheeks some 30 years later.

On leaving the museum, I quickly did a spot of local craft shopping, including lace, and then off to the ethnographic museum before it closed for the siesta.

imageThis was a collectors dream. Jose Louis had spent his lifetime collecting the full range of ethnographic activity in the area ranging from agriculture, wine and oil production, leather work, black smithing, and so it goes on and on with every aspect of life covered, from the laundry, through the kitchen, to the bedroom, to children. It was well worth the visit and Jose Louis was justifiably proud of his curatorial expertise. Again, he did not speak English but we were certainly able to communicate. And that was my museum morning, sadly without photos. The next thing was lunch in the square where one always finds people one knows and it’s another beer and some more tapas. By then it was time to meet Genaro for the visit to the windmills.

In Don Quixote, there is a quote about seeing 40 windmills on the far horizon. So driving for about half an hour out of Almagro, we turned and indeed there they were – not 40 – but eleven.  image

There are two main areas that have windmills and we were at Consuegra. The village itself is rather charmless with nothing to further a tourists curiosity but then when up on the mountains with these beauties what else could there be? Of course, a terrific bar. But that is not to be at this stage. Pedro, the windmill shopkeeper had some Manchego cheese, small cans of beer, and the usual desirables of imageCoca Cola and chocolate. He was a wag and made the purchases and visit to explore the interior of the windmill great fun.

Each of the mills is named after a Don Quixote character and as you look out across the vast plains and see the wheat fields, you can reflect on the days when horses both hauled and ground the wheat at the top of these steep and rocky slopes.

The photo above is with Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Almagro,  Genaro Galan Garcia, who very graciously organised the trip.

imageCuriously, La Mancha remains one if the largest agriculture producers, especially wheat, olives and grapes and of course there is always the cheeses from either sheep, goats or cows or a blend thereof.

Below are some shots of the bulls being raised for bull fighting. I’m fascinated by the ritual of bull fighting and have always wanted to see a bull farm.

Following our excursion, we dined in the converted convent where Genaro had spent his childhood. A little off the tourist track, I was treated to a meal consisting of local Manchego fare and loved it. And that sadly is goodbye to Almagro for 2014.

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13 thoughts on “Day 15 Almagro

  1. Dear Brenda, have been thoroughly enjoying reading about your travels and adventures. Clearly you are having a marvelous time! It all sounds fantastic, and from my study in very cold and wintry Melbourne, its been wonderful so read as your journey has unfolded, and to enjoy the very sunny and exotic photos. Enjoy the rest of it! Ruth x

      1. Hi Brenda, yes let’s catch up. Let me know when you’re back and we can make a time.
        Ruth x

    1. My dear Friend Salome,
      Thank you so much for you links to the photos. I’m wondering if I might use some of them on my website with appropriate citation of course.
      You are a terrific photographer.
      Hugs back to you and please make sure you stay in touch. What is the news of Almagro?
      Best regards,
      Brenda.

      1. Por supuesto -of course… jejejejee-. Puedes utilizarlas cuando quieras. El festival ya se acabó para mí. Vi una versión impresionante de Macbeth -dirigido por Andrés Lima, muy afamado en España- en la que se trasladaba la acción a la Galicia actual, una región española en la que la hay mucha corrupción política y “El caballero de Olmedo”, un Lope de estilo puro y final dramático: hubo música, flamenco y tango. Un montaje muy elegante coproducido por CNTC y por Teatre Lliure. Todos los actores menos una son de las compañías jóvenes. El futuro del teatro.
        Un abrazo desde Valencia
        Salomé

    1. Yes, Brenda, I read that you were in the Lliure. The first show I saw in Almagro Teatre Lliure was Julius Caesar. Stunning, absolutely stunning. The following year, they returned to Almagro with Richard III and a year later, with Othello. They have a dazzling theatrical conception of space. They are very innovative. In 2006 they did a Hamlet without words: “European House”. I could not see. I leave the links to the presentation and video.

      Espero que lo disfrutes.

      Un abrazo,

      Salomé

      1. Dear Salome, I certainly did enjoy!
        I am speechless at the thought of a Hamlet without words! Thank you for the links, I’ve been looking at the current season and hope that you might get to Barcelona to some of it or might it tour to Valencia?
        More soon and best regards,
        Brenda.

  2. Dear Brenda,

    I’ve been watching Teatre Lliure programming and would like to see “Victòria d’Enric V”, but the actors are the same who acted in “El Caballero de Olmedo” by Lope, in the Hospital de San Juan and I did not like anything (in collaboration with the CNTC). The actors belong to the young company Teatre Lliure and I think they have an excess of hormones acting. They go so revolutionized acting that are not able to convey emotions.

    I will be aware of what is programmed. The tour has not yet published.

    I let one of my photos on the mills that you both liked. It is of Mota del Cuervo (Cuenca).

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