Day 4: Consuegra
May 21 2009
In the story, the fictional character, Don Quixote believes that the windmills are truly giants and decides he is going to take them on. Sancho, his squire, tries to tell Don Quixote the giants are really windmills, but he will not believe him. He charges the windmill on his horse. The wind starts to blow and his lance breaks off in the sail of the windmill, lifting him and his horse off the ground and dropping them back down.
Seeing the windmills in person was very impressive! They are huge and magnificent. We even got the opportunity to go into one of the windmills to see its inner workings with the grindstone and all. It’s great something such as this can be preserved. It’s always nice to be able to see something in person once you have read about it. Seeing the windmills I’m not sure how Don Quixote managed to see them as giants, but it made a hilarious story for us.
We were up early for breakfast and departure. The day before, the Oklahoma State group had discovered inexpensive bottles of water at the market (1.24 Euros for a six-pack, while we were paying 2 Euros per bottle in the hotel lobby). Like camels in the desert, a band of us headed to the store only to find it closed.
“We will pray to the Spanish gods that the store will open,” I said. “The store will open!” I continued and flicked my hand as if I could really do magic. I added a dramatic sound effect-“pssshhh”- to the hand flick and Rodrick laughed at me. He laughed some more, then asked me to do the hand thing again. I repeated the gesture and the store opened. The Spanish gods had answered our prayers.
During class, Professor Simon had tried to enforce an environment that resembled the intimate communication of the Spanish lifestyle; we resisted (at least I did). That morning, our last morning in Toledo, was the commencement of our transition into very close, interpersonal communications in our group. Sam, our guide, explained that even when Spanish people hold land in the country, they prefer to be close knit and live near others in the village or in the city. We had banded around a water supply.
We filed onto the bus and travelled to Consuegra. Consuegra is the home of Los Molinos of La Mancha, the traditional windmills of La Mancha. The windmills were used until the 1980’s to grind grain. There were 13 windmills, but currently there are only 12; each is individually named. Here you can see the windmill Caballero del verde gabán (Gentleman or Knight of the green overcoat).
The fortress (Castle of Consuegra) is double-walled and originated in the early part of the Reconquest (when regions of Spain were taken back from the Moors). It was destroyed during the Peninsular War.
Sam passed out samples of Manchego cheese (cheese from Mancha). It is a mild goat cheese that is aged for at least 3 months. It is not as salty as Feta.
Time for lunch and we headed to La Venta del Quijote (The Inn of Quixote) in Puerto Lápice. I helped Kevin order lunch at the window, and then wandered around. Note to readers: I don’t usually eat breakfast, but I ate huge breakfasts every morning to have enough energy to trek across the peninsula.
As we travel on the bus to Granada, we pass by lots of olive trees. The trees dot the landscape as far as the eye can see. Usually machines are used to shake the olives out of the trees during harvest, but when the trees are on the precarious side of hills and mountains workers and family members harvest the olives. Roman Spain was a major producer of wine, olives, and wheat. Along with cheese, these were the staples of the diet of Hispania.
The bull road signs of Spain are unofficial symbols of Spain. They were originally advertisements for Osborne Sherry. When it was illegal to advertise alcohol on the signs, the bulls were painted completely black. There are 89 bull signs remaining throughout Spain. I was never able to catch a photo of the notorious Toro. There will be a small, green, mosaic bull hiding on Professor Simon’s door for the next academic year.
We have dinner in the hotel next door. The line for the dinner buffet is long, so we are standing for a while. Two ladies cut in front of us then they change their minds and go to the very front of the line. There are two Frenchwomen in line behind me. Scarlett pipes up with “Dorotha, don’t you speak French?” I was on the spot, so I spent the next 15 minutes speaking French in Spain. The French word for summer eluded me (I was studying my Spanish vocabulary in my free time on the bus rides). I suspect that I will forget all of my French this summer.In the evening, we took a night tour of the Albaicín, the old Moorish quarter on the side of the hill of Granada. We walked up to the Mirador de San Nicolás for night photos of the Alhambra across the River Valley. (I had forgotten my camera so I had to beg a photo from Patrick.) The Albaicín has the Sacromonte district (Sacred Mountain). The Sacromonte features caves built on top of Roman catacombs. The caves were used by the gypsies until flooding forced them to relocate; now they are used mainly for tourism. We attended a zambra (gypsy flamenco dance) in La Rocío cave. Rachel and Rodrick danced from our group, but I think the star dancer of the night was Conner Mahan from Oklahoma State University. Perhaps Conner was a gypsy in a past life???
The zambra is spontaneous, unlike traditional flamenco dancing. The setting is intimate. We sat in a row along the walls of the cave with the dancers in front of us. We were so close that my hand was on Scarlett’s shoulder, two seats down. Granada’s Federico García Lorca, poet and dramatist, was inspired by the flamenco to write his Gypsy Ballads in 1928. It is difficult to ignore the emotions that the flamenco of Andalusia conjures.