Monday, June 12, 2006

more salamanca

The tour is on vacation for the time being and we Builders head home to our day jobs, partners, pets, depression, unemployment, creative pursuits and if we are really lucky/insane, all of the above rolled into one tasty morsel, destined to overwhelm. But we are always up for a challenge.

There are a few things left to be said about our last host city, Salamanca. For instance, did I mention that Salamanca also featured the additional personnel of dbox on board with us? No? I forgot to say the best part? Que bruta!

So, on this last leg of Le Grand Tour, we were ever so fortunate to have Mister James Gibbs and Mister Keith Bomley of dbox with us who came along to document visually the process of loading in and loading out the show. Along with their stellar personalities, they brought with them some incredible cameras to capture the setup and takedown of SuperVision. It was most pleasant to have them along on our voyage and to get to hang out with the two of them and share the stranger-in-a-strange-land vibe with them.

I would also like to say a word or two about the festival we were a part of, el 2 Festival Internacional de las artes Castille y Leon ( This is a new but a tremendously ambitious festival and we were honored to be a part of it. The streets and theatres and museums of Salamanca, already rich on their own, were flooded with performances for the time we were there. The work came from all over the place in Europe, North America and beyond and was very impressive in its scope. Especially for a city the size of Salamanca, which is a university town full of lots of students there to learn Spanish or medicine, but is not a huge city. It was really something to see the Plaza Mayor filled to its renaissance max with dancing fans of Asian Dub Foundation the night before we left. Now that's a cultural mix I probably wouldn't have come up with.

Last Thursday morning, we were treated to an incredibly special thing. Sonia and Guy, the producers of the festival, arranged for a few of us to take a tour of the archival library of the university. It is the oldest library in Spain and the first one to have a paid librarian. It houses about 16,000 volumes, if I remember correctly, and they are all beyond the belief of someone like me who has been raised in a place where we consider anything more than 50 to be old. These books start around the 15th century though some are from earlier, the oldest being from the 12th I think. Those that escaped the editorial "process" of the Inquisition did so with a few scars, at least those that were not purely non-secular in nature. The librarian showed us some interesting techniques that the Inquisitors had for getting the books to come out kosher, so to speak. Scratching out, pasting over and just outright removal of undesirable parts left some of the books looking like they'd had a very bad day at Kinko's. Nonetheless they were beautiful and more than one of us had tears in our eyes to see such precious volumes.

We just don't have that kind of stuff in our country. Plus, it was very, very special for us to be allowed into this room at all as it is temperature controlled and restricted to scholars only. Too many warm bodies and the books don't like it. It felt like we were in a good scene from the DaVinci Code, the one where the foreigners are in awe of the scope of human history contained in the room where they stand.

So many thanks to Sonia and Guy for making that visit possible and also to Javier, who escorted us around and to the charming fellow who was the librarian and patiently showed us the books that he has the priviledge of being collegial with every day. I never got his name but please, Sonia or Guy or anybody a the festival if you read this, please thank him for us. It was an amazing visit.

Not to change the subject and harp on the whole ham thing too much but I had a revelation about the pork situation that I feel I must relay to the blog-reading public. This is of course the great danger of the blog itself: too many people with ideas they think everybody else needs to know about. I realize too that this entire blog is a prime example of that but I figure if you've read this far, you will indulge me this once more.

I was thinking about the expulsion of the Jews and the Moors in the 15the century form Spain. OK, first of all, let's just talk about the 15th century for a minute, shall we? Those Spaniards were busy little beavers during this century, running all over the world "discovering" things (OK, Cristobal Colon was italian but at that point he was from the Aragon/Castille hybrid), building incredible castles and palaces and cathedrals, making all manner of Inquisition and kicking people out who didn't make the grade. So the Jews and the Muslims fell into the latter category, despite the fact that they had been in Spain for hundreds of years.

After spending time in Spain I have come to the conclusion that this was all a question of pork. It was simple test back then: you eat pork, you stay. Sin comida puerco, salido por favor.

That is my little revelation upon the history of Spain, its peoples and its eating habits. Viva Jamon Nacion! Pero con todos los gente de todos typos! Please excuse my terrible Spanish and I hope I have not said something bad by mistake!!!

con besitos de jamon,


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