Kingdom of Spain 2014

12 April, Teruel21 April, Sevilla
13 April, Teruel 22 April, Sevilla
14 April, Albarracín, Valencia 23 April, Sevilla, Baeza
15 April, Valencia 24 April, Baeza, Úbeda
16 April, Valencia, Elche 25 April, Baeza, Toledo
17 April, Murcia 26 April, Toledo
18 April, Cabo de Gata 27 April, Toledo
19 April, Cabo de gata, Níjar Economic data of the trip
20 April, Sevilla

13 April, Palm Sunday

    The breakfast in the El Mudayyan hotel works better than expected: Iberian ham on tomato bread, salmon with homemade sauce, yogurt cake, fresh orange juice, kiwis, cheese, cereals, coffee and small cakes called Sighs of Lover, cooked by Maria José, the owner. After breakfast, she invites us to see the underground passage that was discovered shortly after beginning the works of the hotel.
The Torico (small bull) square, Teruel
    Maria José is a whirlwind and speaks at breakneck speed. The nightmare of a typist. She chuckles at tourists who say they can speak Spanish: "Ha ha, I almost made one cry. Most of them don't catch a single word. Shit!, if they don't get me they should tell me and I repeat it more slowly. You do get me, don't you?" on the threshold of the passage, Maria José looks back to the history of Teruel with the confidence of a professor. Then we make our way down the stairs into the bowels of the earth. "The old town of Teruel is riddled with secret passageways: some dedicated to drainage of rainwater and surpluses of underground reservoirs, others are associated with the transit of people, such as the tunnels that were excavated during the Spanish Civil War. This gallery dates back to the 18th century, it is sixty meters long and connects this house with a small room of the sacristy of Salvador's Church and also with another house adjacent to the church. Both buildings were owned by the clergy because during the Middle and Modern Ages almost all the temples of Teruel had attached several priests, it is not like now, that the churches only have one priest ... hopefully. This house belonged to a prebendary, you know, the one in charge of distributing alms among the poor. To me that he kept something for himself, "he who cuts the cake...", because he finally was able to buy the house. In 1964 the nieces of this priest offered the house for sale to my mother, who just lived opposite. My mother started renting and years later she bought it. When my mother died, I inherited the house, which was in ruins. My intention was to build a small hotel and at the beginning of the works in 2002, the masons found a wall and a stone arch. An archaeologist came and, after much study, told us that they were possibly remains of the late medieval church of San Salvador, burned around 1600. In other words, this house was built on the ruins of the church. After the theft in 2011 of the Codex Calixtinus from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, authorities forced us to wall this passage. The walls of the passage are made of small round stones, river gravel. During the Civil War it was used as a refuge; I know because some clients asked me to visit it. Any questions?".
    —Well, yes: ¿What was the purpose of this passageway?
    —To pass from the house of priests to the Sacristy without going outside. The same function as an overpass, like the one that connects the Episcopal Palace with the cathedral of Teruel or the priest's house with the church of Santo Domingo of Celadas, to give other examples. The reasons for its construction are not entirely identified, most probably they built the passageway looking for greater comfort of access to the church.
    When we pass again through the Torico square, way to the mausoleum of the Lovers of Teruel, we come across another procession and we stay for a few minutes observing this curious tradition. As I am watching the dummy representing the christian deity called "the Son", I wonder how these Christians would react if a muslim brotherhood paraded celebrating the Ashura as it already happens in Sweden.

Brotherhood of the Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem parading along Ramón y Cajal

    The remains of the presumed Lovers of Teruel were found in 1555 under the floor of the chapel of San Cosme and San Damián, inside the church of San Pedro, along with an old document that recounted the legend. The mummies have been recently carbon dated and it seems that they belong to the early 14th century, more or less when the legend began. The story tells the neurotic love affair between Juan Diego Martínez de Marcilla, second born, and therefore without fortune, and Isabel de Segura, only daughter of a noble family.
    After enjoying a simple menu in an inn on the Paseo del ovalo, we enrol in a guided tour to see the Cathedral of Santa Maria of Mediavilla. No photos allowed. The most spectacular of the cathedral is its coffered ceiling; they call it the Sistine Chapel of Mudejar art. The striking colors and the intermediate beams reminds me of the coffered ceilings of many Chinese temples, and even more so when I see the head of a dragon, but I better keep the comment for myself. "It dates from 1284, made in pine wood by Mudejars and the figurative decoration contains geometric and vegetable motifs. If you look closely you will see animals like the dragon, bull, stork and lion. Trades are also represented: carpenters, painters... There are words in Arabic and Christian. This roof, which now we find wonderful, remained under a false ceiling for more than two centuries. The reason? For the taste of the 18th century it was out of fashion. It was preserved very well thanks to the false ceiling although during the Civil War a part collapsed when a bomb fell".
    We love to see stores with such expressive names as "Footwear Don Comfy" or the hairdresser "Drop Dead Diva". At the theatre Wonders they are showing "Ocho apellidos vascos", the highest grossing of the moment.
The float called Mary Most Holy of the Anguish
    To satisfy our sweet tooth we pick up a Mudejar braid at the bakery Sanz.
    While wandering around Teruel, we run by chance into the church of San Martín. We opened the door and... surprise! Right to the fourteen floats that leave during Easter. Immediately, a man who seems to guard the floats comes to us and makes clear that this year the processions will leave from here.
   —Ah! And where did they leave from previously?— I ask him.
   —Before, a tent was installed at the Seminary square, but that tent and the security service costed €22000, so now we use this church, which had been closed to worship for years. Be aware that even the greetings of the politicians have been taken away from the Easter brochure to reduce the number of pages; these are no times for wasting money.
    —Yesterday I was surprised by the average age of the drummers. Kids seem very committed to maintain traditions.
    —I don't think so. This goes down. Last year one of the floats came out with only twenty-nine "costaleros" (porters). By its weight and size, fifty had been required. And yet, in the procession of Good Friday more than three thousand people paraded counting penitents, porters and musicians. To these, the public must also be added, of course, streets were packed. People came even from Valencia.
    In Spain, political corruption is even more characteristic than the sun, beaches, bulls, flamenco and sangría; there is no province free of it. Teruel is best known for its cured ham, and if we put together ham and corruption we have a "typical spanish" to the square. Here it goes: In January of this year, the new president of the Board of the Qualified Denomination of Origin Ham of Teruel has encountered an exorbitant debt of €400,000, impossible to pay. The audit data was clarifying: the previous president had a salary of €82,000 and €35,000 for "other expenses". And not only that: €84,442 were spent on fuel without receipts, €146,000 on unjustified expenses and €30,000 were taken from the cashier, plus personal expenses such as lady's watches, bullfights, expensive glasses, weekends in Marina D'or, etc. All paid with our money. Threatened by the audit, half of the directors resigned and the legal expert says that it is going to be very complicated to prove something because mercantile books, invoices, withholding data and even the minutes of meetings have disappeared. The destination of the subsidies received by the Denomination of Origin are also being investigated. And I have not finished yet: the new president has also detected an organized fraud, at least during the last five years, in the certification of hams; last year 50,000 hams did not meet Teruel's Denomination of Origin: many came from outside of the province, either pigs were not of the proper race or hams had been frozen. Who can rely on Qualified Denominations of origin? The route of corruption also passes through the ham of Teruel.

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