Grey Skies: Ces Jours Si Tristes, Si Gris, Profonds, Estos Días Tristes y Grises, Profundos, Just a Little Piece of Sky

Ces jours tristes, profonds, sans fin et sans espoir, quand les rêves deviennent gris et plus lointains que jamais et le ciel pleure incessant, grisâtre et sans repos.

Just waxing dreary and drab on a drab and dreary winter’s day in southern Spain. Even if we’re really lucky and we never get snow or ice, we do get grey skies. I love the rain. But life can seem dreary and hopeless when this is the only piece of sky you can get from the window of the tiny one-bedroom-with-a-walk-in-closet-as-the-second-bedroom in da inna big city where we live.

Grey SkiesOn a brighter note, this is the Med in January. You can see it is raining somewhere around Torremolinos (where all the grey lines are slashing down) and out at sea. But you can still appreciate the brilliant sunset.

Med In JanuaryJust daily life here in a warm country in winter. It’s great to be in a place where it never snows, but on the other hand, daily life can still drag you down, especially if the economy is bad and you have to work ten hours every day just to make ends meet and pay the bills. There’s no time to even go out for a walk to enjoy the brilliant weather that we have the privilege of, well, enjoying! This photo was snapped as I got off the bus and dashed off to trudge away yet a few more hours at one of the companies where I work. I like the company but the hours are long. Not at this particular company, in case they happen to be reading this hehe, but all together at the three companies together, the hours are long.

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CBBH Photo Challenge: Street Art

I’d been thinking about putting up a post with just Malaga street art for a while now, seeing as I pass by quite a few of these murals every day. But since that always happens when I’m on the way to one of the ten-hour-per-day jobs that I have (now, I don’t work ten hours a day for any one company but when you work for four different companies, all those hours can really add up!) I can never stop and hop off the bus to take photos! Maybe one day I will do it……

But in the meantime, Marianne of East of Malaga just happened to put up a timely monthly photo challenge on urban street art, so I thought I’d take advantage of that to post the two tiny little pics I did manage to make of some, well, interesting paintings that I’ve passed by lately.

Street ArtYou can see this right downtown in the historic city centre, don’t remember which street it’s on though, maybe on or near calle Beatas?

TurtleJust passed by this turtle walking around Teatinos.

Antonio Lopez DiazEven though I wouldn’t exactly qualify this as street art per se, well, it’s still a mural on a wall. The only thing is that you can only see this mural if you enter into the building. But it’s still on a wall. And you can see it from the street if you pass by the building and peer in through the glass door…… This mural is by a well-known painter in Almería, Antonio López Díaz. You can see more paintings by this wonderful artist here in In the Studio of Antonio López.

Since the photo challenge is for blog hopping, but unfortunately working ten hours a day leaves me with little time to browse through blogs, I haven’t commented on many blogs lately.

The Wagoner family has one of my favourite blogs in the whole wide world here at Wagoners Abroad. They’ve got two kids and as you know, since I do too, I’m really into expat stories by people with kids. They’re lots of fun too!

Well I’ve never commented on the next blog before, so Danielle and Youssef, who run it, don’t even know I exist. But lately I find I’m really fascinated by Lebanese culture and cuisine (and a visit to Beirut, the “Paris of the Middle East” is certainly high on my bucket list!), so This Is Beirut is a wonderful blog for people interested in Lebanon, the Middle East, or who would like to move there.

I hope Marianne of East of Malaga won’t mind that I snitch her photo of her white bunny to go with the photo challenge. If you click on the photo you can visit the post with the rules of the CBBH Photo Challenge.

Conejo Blanco

Happy Hopping!

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The All New Metro de Malaga

Oh it’s been a while, hasn’t it? But what nicer way to start off the new year than by posting a new entry here, right?

A couple of weeks ago we had the privilege to be among the first passengers to inaugurate the new Metro of Malaga. Unfortunately, true to character, I forgot to bring the camera along. But fortunately, mobile phones come with cameras these days too!

Metro de MalagaFor one entire hour we got the chance to ride, completely free, up and down on the new Metro lines as much as we wanted to. We could leave the stations, come back in again, get off at any station that we fancied……

Ciudad de la JusticiaThis was one of the stations where we could get off and go outside, then come back in again, La Ciudad de la Justicia, next to the city courthouses. On December 21, only seven stations were open and this was one of them. However, supposedly, when the metro is finished, there will be fifteen stations on the red line (line number one) and ten on the blue line (number two). We are actually lucky enough to live close to three metro stations!

AndenesYou can see how vast and empty these platforms look, during this pre-inaugural phase. But I’m sure it won’t be long before they are filled up with harried commuters rushing to work.

Dentro del metroWell even though this doesn’t have much to do with the metro, I wanted to end with this cute little “postcard”, a pic of a typical show window in an ordinary shop decorated with a Belén for these holidays. So many anonymous and unsung merchants creating real works of art like this one all over the city.

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In the Studio of Antonio Lopez

Antonio Lopez DiazAntonio López Díaz is a painter and sculptor. He’s also a genius. And one of the seven members of the Movimiento Indaliano that was founded in a culturally impoverished, post-war Almeria, in the south-east corner of Spain.

Antonio Lopez DiazAntonio Lopez became known most especially for his very personal style and his inimitable portrayal of daily life in the streets and villages of a traditional Almeria that no longer exists today.

Although I cropped most of the photos to only show the painting in question, here I felt like revealing how Antonio Lopez has all his paintings set up, one right next to the other, above and below, some way up high on the walls, some leaning on other paintings and some propped up on the floor (usually against another painting), in his studio.

In recent years, however, he became fascinated with modern and abstract art, and his hypnotic use of light and colour permeates all his latest work.

Antonio Lopez has been drawing and painting since he was almost a toddler. In fact, in his studio he pulled out an old painting that he had made at school when he was only six, which was when he discovered his precocious vocation.

These are two of his best-known works, and have been featured in numerous exhibitions.

Nonetheless, he only started studying formally when he was fourteen, and soon he signed up for classes with the Movement’s founder, the painter and sculptor Jesús de Perceval who was already a master artist. The two maintained a close friendship until the latter passed away in 1985.

The seven members of the Movimiento Indaliano, all of them painters, sculptors and artists, revived the pretty much inexistent cultural scene in a city devastated by the Spanish Civil War during the 1940′s. They adopted the traditional symbol of Almeria, the Indalo, as their logo, hence the name Movimiento Indaliano.

Antonio Lopez DiazAntonio Lopez has lived a very picturesque and exciting life. After studying under the tutelage of Jesus de Perceval for several years, he decided to strike out on his own and moved to Brazil. There, he became quite renowned, and many of his paintings and sculptures still decorate public places, churches and altars today.

Antonio Lopez DiazThis sculpture of a dog is in his studio, but you can see another, almost identical one gracing a street in Almeria.

He eventually returned to Almeria, where you can also see samples of his paintings and sculptures as you walk around the city. I feel very privileged to know Antonio López.

This is his octopus stool, and next to it, a sculpted self-portrait.

Antonio Lopez DiazThe master himself at work in his studio.

Antonio Lopez DiazThis bronze statue, which was commissioned by the City of Almeria, stands in a quiet garden plaza in the city centre. (I’d taken some photos of my son standing next to it too, but he kept showing up with funny faces! Hence those photos are respectfully not included here.)

Antonio Lopez DiazThe general public won’t be able to see this mural painting of the Pão de Açúcar, Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, because it decorates the entrance to the apartment building where Antonio Lopez lives.

Antonio Lopez DiazThe master painter, relaxing in his studio surrounded by my sons and his works of art.

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My First Demo

It has been a while now that people close to me have been suggesting that I upload some demos that I have. But as you know, we human beings tend to be shy (well, some of us at least) about ourselves, our work and “putting ourselves out there”.

The result is that I usually hide the things that I do in the back of the closet (or computer!). But I’ve decided to try an experiment today and upload my first demo! So here it is, I don’t know how to upload music to WordPress so I’ll just provide the link to MySpace where I have it up.

(Click on the photo, photo is a link to the MP3 file.)

Flowers in Marbella(Click on the photo, photo is a link to the MP3 file.)

Hopefully someday in the future there will be more demos coming, but for that to happen, I’d have to figure out how to connect the cables to the new audio mixer. (If anybody out there happens to live close to me and is savvy about connecting cables, I could sure appreciate a hand haha!)

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The Science Museum of Granada

After our previous very unfortunate and “ill-fated” visit to Granada – ill-fated because after scrimping and saving in order to take my son to the Science Museum of Granada (Parque de las Ciencias) for his birthday – when we finally got to go, since museums here in Spain usually close on Mondays, we very deliberately made sure to go on a Tuesday…… and it was closed! The only week of the year in which the Science Museum opened on Monday in order to close on Tuesday, because it was a holiday, and that was the week we chose to go!

Observatory TowerSo at any rate, as a very belated (as in, one year and one month late) birthday present, we finally managed to get into the museum.

Science Museum GranadaWe’re very hard put to get to Granada, even though it’s not that far from Malaga, only about an hour by car. But if you don’t have a car, it’s a 60€ round trip for three people, and of course, when two of these three people are unemployed minors, guess who has to foot the bill?

We watched a falconry display (actually, more accurately a bird of prey show) featuring an owl, an eagle and a falcon. The falcon took off for a long flight and most spectators got bored waiting for it to return and left. People today have such short attention spans!

The Science Museum also boasts a large Butterfly Zoo with exotic species from around the world. It was supposed to be a “tropical” zoo, but I think it was hotter outside (it was a very hot day, about 36º Celsius) than inside the zoo.

One girl enjoyed the immense good fortune of actually persuading a butterfly to alight in her hand.

Girl Holding ButterflyThis is a machine for creating tornados and hurricanes in the water.

Turbo TubeThe Science Museum has a tall tower with an observatory at the top, which you can reach by going up in a glass elevator. I took photos of the view of Granada from all around the tower, but most of them only came out so-so because Granada doesn’t have a particularly compelling skyline.

Granada Aerial ViewOne thing that was quite strange, however, was that there was still snow on top of Sierra Nevada, now in June, in spite of the most impressive heat that we were experiencing in the city (36º Celsius of pure, cloudless sunshine).

Sierra NevadaYou can choose to walk down by stairs instead of going down in the elevator, if you like. (You can also choose to walk up, but I doubt that that is a choice many would make.) If you choose to walk down, at every landing there is a sign telling you what height you are at, and some object on earth which is the same height.

My sons don’t work as workmen. But there was an activity that let you feel what it would be like to work in that profession.

In The WorkplaceThese odd, irradiant spacemen are not spacemen at all, but rather, my sons on an infrared camera. They had the time of it jumping around in front of the camera!

At the entrance to the museum are some balls that show how planets were originally formed, made with very finely-sifted, coloured sand floating in water, that you can spin around. You can see they also make stupendous carousels for children to ride on.

Riding on the PlanetsMy oldest son, who is a science junkie, couldn’t get enough of the museum, and read every single word on every single information panel. My youngest son, however, was thoroughly bored and tuned out about halfway through the visit. My recommendation if you plan to visit the museum with small children who aren’t particularly crazy about science? I would say to divide the visit over two days, if at all possible.

The museum is usually open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 in the morning till 7 at night, it closes at 3 in the afternoon on Sundays, Mondays closed. But of course, as mentioned above, they are subject to unpredictable variations in their schedule, so if you are planning to go and you don’t live in Granada, check out their website to make sure it is open on the day you want to visit!

Their usual entrance fee is just 6,50 € for adults and 5,50 € for children ages 6 to 16 (wish “children” were considered children at all places, in most places round here “childhood” only lasts till the age of 13! Sigh!) and retired persons. There is also parking (paying, of course). Or you could try parking on the nearby streets for free (just make sure the tow truck doesn’t happen by or it will be far from free!).

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The Old Provincial Prison of Malaga

Plants in the Courtyard

Today butterflies flit where once people despaired and lost their lives. Now the only things that move through the overgrown courtyards and patios of Malaga’s Old Provincial Prison are stray cats and flowers ruffling daintily in the breeze and pushing their inexorable way into the sun-filled peace of this highly charged space.

Antigua Prision Provincial de Malaga

The doors of Malaga’s old Provincial Prison are closed and barred now.

Provincial Prison Door

And nature continues to open a pathway through its abandoned walls.

Purple Flowers in Provincial Prison

Flowers and Locked GateThe former Provincial Prison of Malaga opened its doors in 1933, before the eruption of the Spanish Civil War, and its original purpose was similar to that of any prison: to house the usual delinquents and criminals, petty thieves, murderers, con artists, etc.

Courtyard and Guard TowerAfter the Spanish Civil War began, however, it took on a much more sinister taint. At the start of the war, Malaga was in the hands of the Republicans, the current leaders of the country at that time. Many Nationalists were held in the Provincial Prison as political prisoners, until Franco’s forces seized a hold of the city in 1937.

Guard Tower Against the SkyFranco’s bloody forces grabbed thousands of their enemies and confined them within these four square walls surrounded by guard towers and high fences, where they remained until the day of their executions.

Guard Tower and GrafittiPolitical prisoners were brought out to see the light of day one final time before being executed in public in front of thousands of on-lookers.

Plants in the WindowAfter the Civil War ended, political prisoners still filled up the ranks of those held within this small space for several years, until eventually the prison regained its original use, as a place to deprive the usual petty delinquents of their freedom.

And life went on within its walls.

Plants in the CourtyardThe prison was witness to a violent riot in 1985, where presumably some guards and police officers were killed. No one knows what became of the prisoners involved in the riot, but I doubt that they enjoyed a particularly optimistic fate.

Abandoned CourtyardThe Old Provincial Prison of Malaga began to lose its importance in 1991, when the New Provincial Prison was inaugurated in Alhaurín de la Torre, in the suburbs of the city. And finally, in 2009, this former architectural splendour closed its doors for good.

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