I really just wanted to post something about where I am and what I’m doing these days, which will hopefully explain the randomness of updates. But how could I leave you without photos? Since I’m feeling a little nostalgic, I’ve decided to include a few parting shots of Martos as well.
I left Spain in June to pursue a Masters of Architecture at the University of Oregon, a three-and-a-half-year program at their campus in Eugene, Oregon. The program started in summer and, so far, has been incredibly intense – more intense than I expected it to be. Although I only pulled one all-nighter (hopefully the last), 8AM to 2AM days have not been uncommon. Needless to say, it’s been busy. You may see some of my work showing up on the site (due to popular demand), but I promise it will be rare, if only because this is mainly for photography.
I’m on break now, and I had a great trip back to New York City to see my friends and pick up stuff that had been in storage. In the last year, I have been in seven countries, five states, and Lord knows how many cities and provinces within that. Now I want nothing more than to settle for a while and lay off the traveling.
A lot of what I have been doing on my break is sorting life out and going through the stuff I haven’t seen for a year. After the recent death of my desktop computer (the second Dell to die on me in a year), I have managed to salvage the data from those hard drives, and you’ll see some concert photos that have been languishing on my desktop for quite some time. With luck, I’ll start hitting up some shows here in Eugene, and you’ll see some newer ones too.
Don’t expect too much new photography for a while, though. My kit lens kicked the bucket and is in for repair. So it’s just sorting photos right now. Which leads me to… Martos!
I briefly posted about Easter in Spain, but I never really went into describing Semana Santa in detail. The short version is this: processions, processions, processions. It is a week filled with processions which whole towns and cities turn out to watch. Some of them are more solemn and silent, although as I understand it, that happens mostly in the north. Dietrich and I saw one in Santiago de Compostela that was downright creepy. In Andalucia, it’s a lot of partying. Oh, and let’s not forget the Nazarenos, whose outfits inspired the KKK. These guys are just religious organizations responsible for the care of the statues and organizing the processions. Harmless, unlike our version, but still a little disconcerting. I never did quite get over the comparison.
On Easter Sunday in Martos, the whole town gathered to see statues of Jesus and one of the Virgins – I think it was the Virgen de la Villa – be paraded down a hill, through the Plaza de la Fuente Nueva, and back up. People watching from windows would toss flower petals down on the statues, and at the promptings of some of the procession leaders, everyone would cry out, “¡Viva Cristo Rey!” (“Long live Christ the King!”) or “¡Viva la Virgen de la Villa!” (“Long live the Virgin of the Village!”). The whole thing was accompanied by marching bands composed of mostly drummers and horns playing the kinds of music I have only heard in Spain. (Tons of it is on Youtube. Here’s a good example from Martos.)
When Spring finally came to Jaén, I did my best to enjoy it. Every now and then I would take a walk, or a run, or a bike ride along the Via Verde de Aceite, a greenway that runs for kilometers along what was once a rail route through the olive trees.
The Peña looked even better carpeted in greens and purples and yellows. It was worth the trip.
One of the cool things about Martos’ Ayuntamiento (town hall) is that it is literally built on ancient laws. The foundation is embedded with Roman decrees.
Speaking of ruins, Martos had some pretty great abandoned buildings. I don’t know if it was that they just collapsed from lack of maintenance, if they were left because of the economy, or if they had just never been rebuilt after the Civil War. All of them are likely. I’m just fascinated by ruins.
Finally, we had the opportunity to visit an olive oil factory, where they explained the whole process to us (and gave us some delicious, delicious olive oil I still have). It wasn’t much to see – a lot of vats and pipes – but still very interesting.
It was about this time last year that I left for Spain. Yeah, I miss it a bit.