TANTRUMS AND TEMPERATURES.

While I am between countries I thought I would share some pictures of one of the local fiestas.

Each year many of the towns on the east coast (and I think along the south coast as well) have a 3 day festival celebrating the Moors and Christians. Now, in case you didn’t know Spain was invaded in 711 AD from North Africa by the Moors. They conquered most of it, except for the far north around Santiago de Compostela. Being a mainly Christian country that was not viewed too kindly by the Iberians and they battled to take back the conquered land. This was not accomplished until 1492 almost 800 years later.

The term Moors refers primarily to the Muslim inhabitants of the Maghreb, Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and Malta during the Middle Ages. The Moors initially were the indigenous Maghrebine Berbers.

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On day 1 at festival time, the Moors invade and take control of the town. On day 2 the Christians fight back and on day 3 they all march together in a big parade, usually lasting at least 3 hours.

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The costumes take your breath away. In a few towns they make or buy them, but mostly they are hired from huge centres for the festivities so they are different every year.

Benitachell M & C 2011 28

I found this utterly fascinating as in South Africa they are working so hard to bury their history, changing road names, re-branding to Africanisms and using the past only as a vehicle for blaming the state of the present.

A replacement road sign in Durban

Here in Spain they celebrate the diversity and most places you can see remnants of Moorish architecture and culture.

HISTORY

Isabella of Spain

Ferdinand 5

FERDINAND

Since last week I’ve discovered Alfonso was only 32 when he wanted to marry the 13 year old Isabella, but to her that was like, ancient!! The Queen can’t wait to get her married off and out of the way, while Dowager Mummy bleats her daughter is already betrothed to Ferdinand of Aragon. Isabella agrees with this, she’s madly in love with the dashing Ferdinand of Aragon and she’s not above throwing a real tantrum if she can’t marry him. Now that his brother was bumped off he’s the heir to the Aragon throne and quite a good catch.

To get out of this new betrothal to Alfonso of Portugal, Isabella turns to Don Frederick Admiral of Castile, father of Queen Joan of Aragon who is a man of great experience.  She feels that she can trust him.  And he comes up with a plan.

AFRICA FACTS

It’s a mistake to think that Africa is warm all the time. The summers are hot but it can get quite cold in winter. Of course, nothing like as cold as many places. Durban on the east coast is a subtropical climate and the temperature rarely drops below 9 degrees Centigrade. I never needed a coat there but I had several jerseys. The contrast between a hot day and a cooler night can feel so much more and it’s possible to shiver at 10 degrees Centigrade.

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DURBAN BEACHFRONT

Johannesburg is 1,753 metres (5,751 ft) above sea level and Nairobi is pretty much the same at 1,795 metres. Even towns in Botswana are over 1,000 metres above sea level. As a child I always thought that the higher up you are the hotter it would be – closer to the sun aren’t you? Apparently, this is not the case as Mount Everest at 8,848 metres proves.

Visitors to Nairobi and Johannesburg will notice the oxygen levels are lower at these heights and will need to take things easy for the first few days.

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JOHANNESBURG

Since I have little fashion sense, I don’t need to worry too much what Amie wears – usually cargo pants and t-shirt and good, sturdy boots. In book 4 these became more dangerous than she could ever have imagined.

Till next time, take care.

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RATHAUS AND (W)RITING

TRAVEL (VIENNA)

After we left the Vienna Experience exhibition we spent several minutes standing on the pavement discussing which way to go – I won’t go as far as arguing exactly but it got heated. Want to know who won? DH, nauseatingly he was right. We spent time meandering the streets getting a feel for the place – to me the vibes screamed music, history and art – quite heavenly.

This building is the front of the State Opera house.

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They offer free tours and we left it to the last day to go round it – sadly it was closed on that day.

So, we headed off to the Town hall or Rathaus (the name in German) instead. I know it’s silly but I kept imagining scenes similar to the Pied Piper of Hamlyn – how we often think about politicians?

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I’m not sure we were supposed to go inside but there were no notices telling us not to and we were very good and didn’t vandalise anything or scrawl graffiti on the walls either. It was a veritable maze with several wide staircases covered in red carpet over the marble floors.

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HISTORY

When Joan Henriquez Ferdinand’s mummy hears of the intended betrothal of her stepson Prince Carlos with Isabella, she is furious because she is all for the marriage between her darling Ferdinand and Isabella. But all is not lost because Carlos is now locked up by his Daddy the king and is languishing in jail. Not the best place for a royal to get married, even in those days.

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King John is forced to release his son, but shortly after, Carlos dies in rather suspicious circumstances. It’s said that his ghost still walks the streets of Barcelona.

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And it gets worse. Living quietly in Olite, Blanche [Henry’s ex wife the one he had before Joan Henriquez] is now very scared. On Carlos’ death, she has inherited Navarre. She is still imprisoned by her own family, in general she has a very sad life. She also dies under suspicious circumstances at the age of 40.  Like Carlos, she was probably poisoned. What dangerous times, better to be a peasant I think.

AFRICAN FACTS

When we first started filming in the rural areas around Johannesburg, it was easy. The local people were so friendly and helpful. If we asked them to cry they wailed loudly enough to be heard in London. If we asked them to laugh they cackled till we begged them to stop.

But, somewhere word got out that in Hollywood, actors were paid obscene amounts of money, and they began to demand payment. Sadly, our budget did not stretch to this and we were at a loss as to what to do. Until someone hit on the idea to ‘pay’ them in plastic buckets and bowls.

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It worked! We got our footage and they walked off with brightly coloured plastic ware and everyone was happy.

Later, when I was running my own company in KwaZulu Natal I handed out lollipops for appearing in my movies. The idea was to give them to the children, but the grown-ups were having none of that and queued up to get theirs as well. It led to lots of laughs and some amazing footage.

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This picture is not a mock-up, this lady was having her first lesson in learning to write.

all books day 5 group promo May 2018

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914/

Till next time, take care.

TARTS AND TOWNSHIPS

There were carriages everywhere we looked in Vienna as if part of the city had got stuck in the 17th century, although the prices they quoted for a short ride were very much 21st century.

All the museum and art galleries were sensibly grouped together, so it was easy to walk from one to the other. In between, hot dog stalls were very popular, with every variety of sausage and every condiment you could think of. We were frequent visitors.

This is not the museum area because for some reason I didn’t take a photo, but they form 3 sides of a square and so conveniently in one area.

One place we had to eat though was Café Central. A revolutionary (Trotsky), a psychoanalyst (Freud), several writers and poets (including Polgar, Zweig and Altenberg) and an architect (Loos) walked into a café.

What sounds like the start of a joke was an everyday occurrence at Café Central (est. 1876). Over coffee, cake and the odd cigar, some of the greatest poets, philosophers and – it has to be said – storytellers the world has ever seen, got together in Vienna’s most attractive coffeehouse.

And then there was me as well! It was very difficult to choose which cakes to have while I tried to infuse the greatness of the past.

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HISTORY

John II of Castile married twice and his second choice was to Princess Isabella of Portugal and that was a big mistake!

OLD Q ISABELLA CASTILE

Now do please note that she is kneeling down and this is very important to the story, so please remember it.

In the cold, bleak town of Avila, in this dark and threatening castle, the Queen gave birth to a daughter, Isabella. She was second in line to the throne after her half-brother Henry. Then her mother had another boy and so now little baby Isabella was third in line.  She’s not expecting to be queen now.

ADD BREAK

GAUT BP02 townhouse

This is a street in Alexandra township which is a little to the north of Johannesburg town centre. Neat red brick houses were first built there as an upmarket area, but it was designated as a ‘native township’ and because this was before the 1913 Land Act, it was one of the few urban areas in the country where black people could own land under freehold title. We filmed in there several times, but always with a respected member of the community and a few extra helpers. With our expensive camera gear, we were great targets for the skabengas (gangsters/thieves).GUT BP02 Children crossing

Crossing the road can be quite dangerous – a kindergarten in Alexandra township.

So many people moved into the area and erected shacks in the gardens and alongside the road, that the services could no longer cope. It deteriorated into a large, sprawling slum, and several attempts have been made to upgrade living conditions, often thwarted by upsurges in violence.

I’ve written many stories about our visits in the townships in Truth, Lies and Propaganda.  https://www.books2read.com/u/47kzYN

We had many uplifting experiences and an amazing insight into other lives, both good, bad and funny.

You can check out all my books here:  http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Something for everyone, memoirs and traveling, humour and action/adventure.

Till next week, take care.

Lucinda

PS: If you’d like a Thursday guest slot on my blog, either pm me on Facebook or drop me an email:     lucinda@lucindaeclarke.com