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Coachella, survival guide.

Léeme en castellano.

IMG_20140413_185554April showers bring May flowers? Not at Coachella, at the Colorado desert. Can you think of a better plan for April than attending the  Coachella Valle music and Arts Festival? Here’s this year’s video in case you’re still hesitating.

Goldenvoice has been organizing this festival since 1999 at the Empire Polo Club in Indio. Well known artists and new promising musicians play during three days on two consecutive weekends on different stages scattered around the polo grounds. There’s always a performance to watch, but it’s always a good thing to take some time to enjoy the artworks, food and drink stalls or take a ride on the ferris wheel. What are you gonna do, camp?, next to your car, at Lake Eldorado or at the Safari tents?, book a hotel?, rent a house?. You really feel like doing all of it, right? But be careful, here I give you some tips to take into account.

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Le Chalet de la Plage, Essaouira.

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We like good eats, that’s a fact. And we like local eats. Mediterranean diet is known worldwide so, why not enjoy some of it where we can find specialists? In Essaouira, Le Chalet de la Plage, also known as Chez Jeannot, is a perfect place for doing so.

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Miriam Adeney

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« You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place. »

– Miriam Adeney

Illustration by Michael Tompsett.

Léeme en castellano.

Regattas, Flag of la Concha.

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What’s the value of a whale? Some would say incalculable, whalers would say it is worth the price of its meat, the oil made from its grease, its baleen and its bones. During centuries whalers competed for hunting the biggest number possible of these creatures, and competition at its best was reached at Cantabrian seas. When the lookouts made out a whale on the horizon they made a call for whalers and they raced on their boats to be the first ones to harpoon  the animal, since that implied a wide range of privileges when it came to selling it.

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The singing of Kukulkan

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Have you ever heard the singing of a god? Mayans did, and now anyone can do it as well by coming to this magican place, wonder of the modern world.

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What do castles have that are a source of love, emotion and inspiration? The Royal Palace in Olite, Navarre, certainly is. Walk through the streets of the medieval village and get to know its historical heritage: the Royal Palace, Santa María and San Pedro Churches, San Francisco and Santa Engracia convents, the fortified medieval and Roman areas and the medieval galleries.

The best thing we could do is to let ourselves go through the streets which are the same as in the XIII century and still keep their medieval names. During the stroll we will appreciate the different “neighborhoods” inside and outside the Roman area and the different palaces and shields. Nevertheless, the most important thing to see is the Royal Palace.

The Royal Palace in Olite is one of the most important historical and artistic complexes in Navarra, which used to be one of the most luxurious ones in Europe. The building opened to visitors was built between 1402 and 1424 by Charles III “the Noble”, who was the King of Navarre from 1387 to 1425 and was better known for his love for culture and palace life rather than for his military campaigns.

His family enjoyed life in the Olite court until Navarre was conquered by the Castilian Crown, which was the beginning of the deterioration of the Palace for being used as an occasional home by viceroys, governors and noblemen. During Independence War, in 1813, the Palace was set on fire by the Navarran general Espoz y Mina in order to avoid French troops taking it. The palace remained ruined and empty until it was restored in 1937.

The complex is divided in three parts, the Old Palace (now a state-run hotel worth visiting for lunch or just for a drink), the Saint George Chapel ruins and the New Palace, the part available for visiting being the entrance at Charles III Square, can’t get lost there.

Olite is also land of wine, so it would be a good idea to visit the Wine Museum as well or even one of the well known vineyards around (normally having arranged the visit in advance).

I leave the link to the city’s website here as well as some more information here and here.

Enjoy your visit!



Léeme en castellano.

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How to piss off a Spaniard, courtesy of Tom Bartel

So here’s an article I just found about Spaniards; it is one of many but I have to say that these sociological studies carried out by foreigners are just freaking awesome! (and freaking true). 

I SHOULD PROBABLY preface this whole thing by saying that it’s really not that easy to piss off a Spaniard, unless you’re overtly trying to do so. They, along with the people of Bali, are probably the most easy going and good natured people I’ve ever encountered. (Oh man, thank you!).

However, it is possible to anger a Spaniard, especially in certain circumstances.

Insult their mother.

The Spanish don’t curse like we do (that’s arguable). There’s no equivalent in the language for a simple “Fuck you.”  (actually, there is, how would we get through the day if there wasn’t!). Instead, most real curses invoke the purity, or lack thereof, of the cursee’s mother (true fact). I have two favorites I heard while I lived in Madrid. There’s the sort of standard, “I shit in the milk of the mother who bore you,” which is sometimes shortened to just, “the milk!” But my all time favorite is, “I shit in the fourteenth kilometer of the cuckold’s horns of your father”  (first news I get on the matter, but that would certainly piss an Iberian off). That’s some imaginative cursing.

Be insensitive to their “national” identity.

Many people don’t know this, but there are at least four distinct languages spoken in Spain: Castellano, which is what we know as Spanish; Catalan, the language of Catalunya, the area around Barcelona; Basque (or Euskera), the language of the area around Bilbao and San Sebastián; and Gallego, the language of the area north of Portugal. All of these people regard themselves as citizens of their own region first (the thing is more complicated than that) and, except for the Castilians, of Spain second (much more complicated than that). In fact, the Basques and Catalans have very active “Secede from Spain” movements going right now. Be very careful of any generalizations about Spain whichever region you are in. (This is good advice, my friend Tom).

Make no effort to speak Spanish, or whatever the language of the region you’re in.

When you can manage a few phrases — even as little as por favór and gracias — the Spanish will bend over backward to use their few words of English to communicate with you (many people just find it so hard to get this). But just start out in English without making any attempt to meet them half way, and you’ll likely be dismissed as a tourist completely lacking in any grace…which you are. (Amen, Tom, you’re completely right).

Drive slow in the fast lane.

The highways in Spain are a lot better than they used to be. Most of the two lane roads have periodic spots where a passing lane is provided. But woe to him who is driving too slow (ie, less than 20 km/h over the speed limit) (we’re really not that wild…), or driving in the fast lane when not passing (this is prohibited by the traffic regulations, actually). I once had a truck touch my bumper to suggest I hurry up. At the time I was going 120 km/h (the truck driver was clearly a public menace, then). Just keep right at all times is my advice.

Cheer for the Barcelona soccer team when you’re in a bar in Madrid.

And vice versa (of course! I mean, are you nuts?). It’s said that the first three words a Spanish child learns are fútbol, Barça and Real (Madrid) (ehhhhh, no comments). At least one of the latter two words is often preceded by maldito sea, which means “may they burn in hell.” Imagine cheering for the Red Sox in a Manhattan bar. You get the picture.

Mention Francisco Franco.

The brutal dictator died in 1975, but his successor party is in power in Spain now (not really like that, complicated topic as well). There is no such thing as a Spaniard without an opinion on his rule. Best to just avoid the topic unless you know your audience really well.

Try to get a word in edgewise.

Anyone who has ever been in a group of Spaniards knows that there’s no such thing as waiting for someone else to finish speaking before speaking themselves. If there are four Spaniards in a group, there are four people talking. And, as they talk, the volume increases as they each try to make themselves heard above the others. Actually, this doesn’t really piss Spaniards off, that nobody is listening. It’s just the way it is. It will piss you off a lot more than them. (Yeah, we live with that).

Minimize the Spanish culture.

The French used to have a saying, “Africa begins at the Pyrenees” (we never liked those “frogs”). This was meant to be the ultimate insult to the Spanish. Perhaps when Franco was in power (or when the Moors were in power 500 years ago) the French had a point (okay… I guess they did…). But now the Spanish are extremely proud of their membership in Europe. And, they’re even more proud of their cultural heritage that draws heavily on their Christian, Muslim, and Jewish traditions (don’t tell me that’s not something to be proud of). Trying to minimize their culture, and their contribution to that of the world, pisses off not only them, but me, too. ( :) )

Unless you want me to say something about your mother, don’t do it. 

(Applause, por favor).

Here I leave the original article. Check it out, this guy is a genius.

Léeme en castellano.