166 – Catching Up

 

First of all it was remiss of me not to thank you all for the lovely thoughts and messages you sent following my heart attack.  I really did appreciate every one of them – “the kindness of strangers” means a lot.

Since then I’ve been doing a lot of catching up.  Trying to slow down, catching up with old friends, and catching up with long-delayed tasks. Continue reading

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155 – Christmas in Bethlehem

Christmas in Palestine.  It’s something that calls to many people, whether Jew, Christian, Muslim, or even agnostic.  Birthplace of the alphabet, of Judaism, and of Christianity.  With a million years of human settlement, it was one of the earliest places in the world to see organised human habitation and agricultural development.  Continue reading

151 – Spanish Portraits

“We’re just the same, you and me” said A.  I take it as a compliment, happily glossing over her thirty additional years on the planet.  She has the most piercing look, she’d have been a great interrogator.  Instead she is a campesina, a countrywoman.  Timeless.  Sturdy.  Hard hands.  Sitting on a stool she scoops handfuls of almonds into her apron, and shells them on a tree-trunk in front of her with a small hammer.  Continue reading

143 – How the Other Half Lives

This massive great cruise ship was in Málaga port last week.  It is either beautiful or ugly, I’m not sure which.  But it is big.  Umpteen floors, 6,500 passengers, 2,500 crew.   It’s the 143-shipsister ship of the one that came in a couple of weeks ago, the one that people live on all year round.  Both times, people flocked to the port to gaze at the ship, marvelling at its sheer size, and marvelling at the idea of living full-time on a ship.  Gazing with mixed emotions, of which envy was certainly one.  “How the other half lives” was a comment that was scattered across the English-language press here, and on internet forums.  Not only the extranjeros of course – I listened in on the comments and joined in some of the conversations of the Spanish people lining the port.  “¡Mira!”  “¡Imagínate!” Continue reading