Saturday, 14 August 2010


So we arrived back last night.A rain swept Bristol airport. Here's some lines from the diary I scrawled whilst over there. We're off to a night of Salsa and peaty Whisky at the Pigs Nose pub in East Prawl - see you on the dance floor amigo...

So where is Duende? one place to meet Duende is in heat; a shield – wall of fire that descends brutally on our skinny tent daily. The heat is meeting a salty Lion on a road of glass. For libation I place a bushel of hair under a rock – hours later I find the tail of a fox as a reciprocal gift. Holed up in the hills around Alora in a small oak grove we see half built houses scatter the hillside, huge views, bleached scrub land, the flash of a binocular across the valley from a neighbour to hot to talk, but always ready to pry.

The bins have containers of suffocated puppies in them, water has gone missing – ten thousand litres – from our precious source at camp. Bandits have only been gone for a generation from the area; we look for tyre tracks or hidden pipes. Water seems lighter here, it never seems to get to the belly but clings for seconds at the back of the gullet before becoming a misty dream.

The Spanish I meet seem robustly unconcerned with their history. A friend tells the tale of finding Roman earthenware whilst picking olives and being sworn to secrecy so it didn’t affect the pace of the picking, to hell with the historical discovery. They seem clear with who they are, but the heat seems to wipe out much sentimentality. The Moorish Castle, perched uneasily atop the town remains resolutely shut, despite any wandering tourists. A trip to some nearby Dolmens involves a complicated web of un - sign posted roads, dust choked alleys and industrial estates. Andalucia seems to be an area with the volume turned up. It has nuance but you have to look past the ferocity of the heat to see it.

And what of its poets? Heat seemed to make poetry rise from their body like ambitious curls of mist; words that are not benign, but, like the place,sharp, lurching, hallucinatory. Words that combat the lionlike heat, not retreat into tense little bundles of sound hiding under another parched rock. Heat swishes its many bladed tail across the table of safe language.Three days into the trip a wasp crawls into my mouth and stings its base, keeping the storyteller mute and listening.

The gypsies live in dark corridors of estates at the edge of the town. During the day many wander to an old square underneath the castle. Some of us had noticed a young gypsy driving a freshly painted, very swish Mercedez Bendz: two days later our host’s four by four collides into it. In the gypsies square. In full of view of the gypsy community. He is a favourite son, half a dozen men race to inform the owner. Much animation, conjecture, possible trouble. We get down from the mountain as swiftly as we can after getting a panicked message – an old friend was once kidnapped for three days in a similar encounter – we could be entering quite a scene. Duende indeed. Despite tensions, all is resolved, and, in an oddly British moment, insurance details are swapped.

That night, up at our small camp, a strange wind sifts through the low olive trees. The lanterns flicker, for a second even the Secadas stop their rattle. In the cooler time and near dark, the hillsides look like a parched Wales. For a while the drinking, smoking and music stops, and we all feel the SPOOK – the delicate, eerie moment where old ghosts with Crows on their shoulders glide by.

In nearby Alora the fair, the ferrier, rages on. Earlier Dulcie had ridden on ‘The Ride of the Brujo’. Thousands crushed into tennis courts dancing to techno and making out. Bacchus gets briefly excited but can’t get involved; he can’t hear the old songs that get him waltzing. Baubo wants to lift her skirt but realises the incantations of the throng are not aimed in her direction.

The next day I have a dream, the gist is:

From my throat to my belly
There are four low strings
That need to resonate
To pluck and vibrate
Several times a day

1 comment:

Gus Brunsman said...

Silenced by a wasp in midst of the that's roughing it, dear friend! Ouch!
Fortunately, you could listen and write. Hope you are now as good as new!