España ha 20 años / Spain 20 years ago
Still in Carboneras. The Ayuntamiento has had the good sense to paint over the ugly graffitti I wrote about, and Susana has discovered where the real "moros" -- Moroccans, Algerians and others living in Carboneras -- hang out. They were delighted to see her friendly face in the little store where they can buy seasonings from home.

An interview of Mario Benedetti at his home in Spain (where he has spent many of his frequent exiles from Uruguay) reminded me why poetry is the noblest literary art. All else is "fiction," says Benedetti, and I know what he means. I have rarely committed poetry, but should do more -- not because I do it well (though maybe I can improve), but because it can be a more authentic expression of what one feels. Meanwhile, here is one of my few poems, written over 20 years ago on my first visit to Spain, in Spanish: Las cosas buenas de Andalucía.


Joda en Bédar
We interrupt our investigation of the intense struggles of Moros v. Cristianos, landed nobility v. starving peasantry, and -- continuing to the present day -- Reds (the dominant local political color, currently represented by the Partido Socialista Obrero de España, PSOE, in power in Carboneras, and the Izquierda Unida) v. Conservatives (I'm not sure what color is associated with them -- blue, maybe, or white). The investigation is proceeding well -- more on that later -- but we interrupted for very good reason: a wonderfully comical street festival in the compact little mountain town of Bédar. Five strolling musicians in yellow pants and straw hats (trumpet, trombone, saxophone and two drums) and five hyperactive clowns, variously striding and cavorting on stilts and step ladders, pedaling precariously on the steep narrow streets on unicycles, clambering up the iron grillwork on the houses, spraying kids from water bottles and enormous plastic boutonnieres, tossing candies and juggling balls, clubs, and so on. The strolling festivities began at 9 p.m., still very light out and not too late for the kids. We found our way (it wasn't easy) into the little town, perched on a peak behind other peaks, by about 20 past nine, and looked for the fun -- finally discovering we had driven into it. Fortunately, our SmartCar is so short that we could park it where there was no space, just as the man on high stilts came leading his merry crowd and all of the younger Bédar citizenry up the brick road, where there was now just room enough for stiltsman, unicycles, jugglers, musicians and kids and their parents to squeeze between our little car and the corner of the building opposite. We had driven in with our car's top open, so our little red car was immediately adopted as another theatrical prop. Stiltsman bent his long legs and rested his fanny on the edge of the car's roof and bent back as far as he could inside, just as though our car had been expected all along. We joined the revelers up more steep streets and down again, where they performed their finale -- with some lucky kids and embarrassed adults plucked from the town square to participate -- with juggling and feats of ridiculous physical prowess (jumping over a low stool, with much fanfare from the musicians, and then piling up more stools and, after great suspense and drum rolls, stepping around them). The jugglers were really good, one especially, but the others could keep up when he got them into a three-man exchange of missiles. Then the one who had seemed the most foolish and least talented of the clowns demonstrated superb drumming skills while teetering on a board across a cylinder rolling across another drumtop on top of a table in the plaza in front of the ayuntamiento. The kids were screaming with delight, and by then the littler ones seemed mostly ready for bed. And so were we. We got home to our supper a little before midnight. Oh, and there was a full moon, which we could see through our open top as we drove along the mountain edge over the water between Mojácar and Carboneras-