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granada la bella blog

About this blog

Here you will find my personal view about selected events relating to Granada, 'the city where anything is possible', Granada, 'la bella y la bestia', and particularly about the city's uneasy relationship with its greatest son, Federico Garcia Lorca, who alternatively loved and loathed it.

Darío Jaramillo’s cat poems

poetry Posted on Wed, April 24, 2019 21:07:17

In a reading of Darío Jaramillo’s poetry at the Lorca Centre on Tuesday,
Rafael Espejo (local poet) chose poems completely at random, he said, and in accordance with
his own preferences and based on his familiarity with the Colombian’s body of

I noticed he chose six poems about cats and later I saw that Jaramillo –
like TS Elliot (Old Possum’s Book of
Practical Cats
) – has published a book of cat poems. He (Espejo) started
with this one:

Estados de
la materia.
Los estados de la materia son cuatro:
líquido, sólido, gaseoso y gato.
El gato es un estado especial de la materia,
si bien caben las dudas:
¿es materia esta voluptuosa contorsión?
¿no viene del cielo esta manera de dormir?
Y este silencio, ¿acaso no procede de un lugar sin tiempo?
Cuando el espíritu juega a ser materia
entonces se convierte en gato.

Aletargados en perpetua siesta
después de inconfesables andanzas nocturas,
desentendidos o alertas,
los gatos están en casa para ser consentidos,
para dejarse amar indiferentes.
Dios hizo los gatos para que hombres y mujeres aprendan a estar solos.

From DARÍO JARAMILLO AGUDELO, Gatos , Editorial Pre-Textos, Colección
“El pájaro solitario”. Valencia, 2009

This is how I’ve translated it:

States of matter.
Matter can exist in four states:
liquid, solid, gas and cat.
The cat is a special state of matter,
even if there is some room for doubt:
is it matter, that voluptuous contortion?
is it not from heaven, that way of sleeping?
And that silence, does it not perhaps come from a place without time?
When the spiritual plays at being material,
that’s when it becomes cat.

Lethargic in their perpetual siesta
after clandestine night wanderings,
whether oblivious or alert,
cats are at home to be spoiled,
to let themselves be loved unconditionally.
God created cats so men and women would learn to live alone.

¡Uy, uy, uy,
uy, uy, mi gato, …

2018 winner Darío Jaramillo

The Lorca Prize Posted on Wed, April 24, 2019 12:03:27

The winner of the Lorca Poetry Prize 2018 is Darío Jaramillo, from Colombia.
It was South America’s turn. Born in 1947, he is the second successive Lorca
Prize winner younger than me, so that must have brought the average age down a
bit. (See for example // dated 24/9-2015.) Another interesting feature is that Jaramillo has not got a large number of
poetry prizes in his display cabinet. Having said that, he did win last year’s
Colombian National Poetry Prize for ‘the existential and poetic maturity’ of
his latest publication El cuerpo y otra
(The Body and Other Things), a prize worth 60 million pesos, which at
around 17,000 euros is a similar amount to what he’ll get for the Lorca.

Darío Jaramillo Agudelo (Santa
Rosa de Osos, Antioquia, Colombia, 1947), miembro de la llamada Generación
Desencantada, es considerado uno de los mejores poetas colombianos del siglo XX
y renovador de la poesía amorosa en castellano. Graduado como abogado y
economista por la Universidad Javeriana de Bogotá, desempeñó importantes cargos
culturales en organismos estatales y fue miembro de los consejos de redacción
de la revista Golpe de Dados.
De su poesía se han hecho tres reediciones completas: 77 poemas (Universidad
Nacional, 1987), 127 poemas (Universidad
de Antioquia, 2000) y Libros de poemas (Fondo
de Cultura Económica, 2003); así como diversas antologías, entre ellas: Aunque es de noche (Pre-Textos,
2000), Del amor, del olvido (Pre-Textos,
2009), Basta cerrar los ojos (Era,
2015) y Poesía selecta (Lumen,
2018). Es también autor de aforismos, Diccionadario (Pre-Textos,
2014); ensayo y prosa autobiográfica, Historia de una pasión (Pre-Textos,
2006) o Poesía en la canción popular
(Pre-Textos, 2008); y novela, La muerte de Alec (1983,
Pre-Textos, 2013), Cartas cruzadas (1993)
o Novela con fantasma (Pre-Textos,
2004), entre otras obras. El 14 de noviembre de 2018 obtuvo, en su decimoquinta
edición, el Premio Internacional de Poesía Ciudad de Granada Federico García

My translation: Darío Jaramillo Agudelo (b.
Santa Rosa de Osos, Antioquia, Colombia, 1947), member of the “Generación
Desencantada” (Disenchanted Generation), is considered one of the best
Columbian poets of the Twentieth Century and a renovator of love poetry in the Spanish
language. He graduated as a lawyer and economist at the Universidad Javeriana of Bogotá and held important
positions of responsibility in various state cultural organisms as well as
being a member of the editorial council of the magazine Golpe de Dados. There have been three complete re-editions
of his poetry: 77 poemas (Universidad
Nacional, 1987), 127 poemas (Universidad
de Antioquia, 2000) and Libros de poemas (Fondo
de Cultura Económica, 2003); as well as various anthologies, among them: Aunque es de noche (Pre-Textos,
2000), Del amor, del olvido (Pre-Textos,
2009), Basta cerrar los ojos (Era,
2015) and Poesía selecta (Lumen, 2018). He is
also the author of a collection of aphorisms, Diccionadario (Pre-Textos,
2014); autobiographic essays and prose, Historia de una pasión (Pre-Textos,
2006) or Poesía en la canción popular
(Pre-Textos, 2008); and novels, La muerte de Alec (1983,
Pre-Textos, 2013), Cartas cruzadas (1993)
or Novela con fantasma (Pre-Textos,
2004), among other works. On 14 November 2018 he was awarded, in
its fifteenth edition, the City of Granada- Federico García Lorca International
Poetry Prize.
Here we have Darío Jaramillo (right) and Santiago Auserón discussing poetry in the popular music of Latin America (bolero, tango, ranchero). At the Lorca Centre, Granada, Tuesday 23 April.

Air Pollution (2)

Contemporary Granada Posted on Mon, April 15, 2019 17:37:48

In January, I first posted about the alarming levels of air pollution in
Granada, to which the city’s particular topography contributes [//]. Now a 30kph speed limit has been introduced for the whole urban area and
will be maintained as long as the problem remains unresolved (the foreseeable
future). It is one measure to fight pollution among others, which include the
gradual increase in the number of electric and hybrid vehicles, the elimination
of diesel and other highly contaminating fossil fuel-burning engines, and the promotion
of environment-friendlier means of transport such as scooters, skateboards,
roller skates, and bikes.

The town council voted in favour of the 30 kph speed limit on 1 March and
at the moment traffic signs are being changed throughout the city.
A further measure will be to reduce the speed limit on the ring road from
100 to 90kph.
These new measures are designed to reduce not only air pollution but also
noise pollution levels, not to mention accidents, thus improving the quality of
life Granada.

I read somewhere that Granada used to be a quiet, almost silent city, and
that when the wind blew in from the Vega it would not encounter a sound until
it reached the gurgling of the fountain in Plaza Nueva. Lorca? Another anecdote
said that the bell on the Veleta tower of the Alhambra was rung to signal
changeover times for the irrigation canals out on the Vega, where it could be
heard clearly at all hours.

Those days are gone and will not
return, but we know: air pollution is a killer, – and silence is golden…

Acknowledgements: Susana
10 Abril, 2019 – 14:12h

Left: the 30 kph speed limit applies to the entire road network inside the ringroad. Right: environment-friendly means of transport

Granada, second most highly rated tourist city in Spain

Contemporary Granada Posted on Sat, April 13, 2019 11:19:22

If Granada is only the second, what is the first?
is the obvious question to be asked. And the answer is: Santander.

The ratings are achieved by a comprehensive box ticking
method with altogether fifteen categories to be evaluated, including the
quality of public transport, preservation of the cultural heritage, cultural
and tourist facilities, hospitality, a feeling of safety, entertainment for
children, gastronomy, night life, shopping, and prices, plus a box for global

Granada did well on preservation of the cultural heritage, shopping and
prices, scoring a total of 85 points out of 100. (Did less well on hospitality,
maybe, what with the ‘malafollá granadina’…) It was pipped by Santander which
scored 87 and outdid Granada on hospitality, gastronomy and safety. E. P. 11 April, 2019

* The ratings are from a survey carried out by the Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU) which asked Spanish, Belgian, French, Italian and Portuguese
tourists who had stayed in a city inside or outside Spain for at least one
night in the last two years.

The gastronomy of Granada: The Essential Guide: Where to Eat Tapas in Granada April 3, 2019

The Origin of the ‘Tapa’.

Contemporary Granada Posted on Tue, March 26, 2019 15:56:30

The definition of ‘tapa’ according to the Spanish Royal Academy is a small
portion of food accompanying a drink.

This definition leaves out two essential elements that make up what we
understand a tapa to be in Granada today and they are 1) that it’s free, and 2) that everyone without exception is offered one.

If it’s not free, it’s a snack, or a bite to eat, a light meal, a tidbit, a
morsel of food, a mini-portion … anything, but not a tapa. Similarly, if it’s
not offered indiscriminately, it may be a treat, a favour, preferential
treatment for some unknown motive, a reward for some special service, a bribe,
a personal incentive, … but it’s not a tapa.

The verb ‘tapar’ means to cover and a ‘tapa’ is then a lid. The story goes
that the custom developed of covering the wine glass with a slice of ham or
sausage, either to prevent foreign bodies (flies, flecks of dust or dirt, etc) entering
the glass, or to prevent the aroma of the wine from escaping.

I once heard that the tradition of the free tapa, which is typical for East
Andalusia but not for the rest of the country, developed in cash-strapped
Granada in the 1930s as part of the fierce competition among bar owners vying
for custom and I’ve always believed it. The story I was told mentioned the bar
and its location, in one of the small streets close to Plaza del Carmen, but
I’ve forgotten the name and can’t trace it at the moment.

Anyway, now, a ‘tourist development agent’ by the name of Gabriel Medina has by accident
discovered the earliest documented reference to the phenomenon while
researching the gypsy zambra – a
style of Flamenco dance associated with wedding ceremonies. In his research, he
came across an advert in a newspaper for a tavern which offered macetas
(obviously not a flower-pot
but a drinking receptacle) a 10 céntimos
con tapaderas de salchichón
[drinks at 10 centimes with sausage ‘covers’].

This ad points to the date of 13 October 1909 as being the documentary birthday
of the tapa as we know it in Granada today.

This said tavern went by the name of Café Económico de Antonio el Aparcero
and in 1909 it was situated
in the calle (street) Tendillas de Santa Paula,
on the corner of calle de San Jerónimo.
Antonio el Aparcero subsequently
changed his premises a number of times before, in 1912, opening a tavern in the
central calle Sierpe Baja.

In this same year, the following announcement could be read:

El Aparcero tiene costumbre de servir con la maceta algún aperitivo, sin que
por ello empeore la buena calidad de sus géneros

[Antonio ‘the Sharecropper’ has the custom of serving some kind of appetizer
with your drink, without affecting the high quality of his beverages.]

Antonio el Aparcero was Antonio Quirosa Mendoza, born 8 October 1870, not far away
at calle Puente de la Virgen, 3. We do not know how long Antonio kept up the custom of serving a tapa with
the drink ordered by his customers, or if he was ever aware of the time-honoured
tradition that can now be dated back to that October day, shortly after his 39th

El origen de
la tapa de Granada / G. M.

M. V. Granada, 21 Marzo, 2019 – 20:23h


Federico Garcia Lorca Posted on Sun, March 17, 2019 10:56:49

From his earliest days, Lorca was keenly aware
of social injustice, inequality and the suffering of the poor “from the deepest
roots of his generous condition”. (We have this from his brother, Francisco.) Nevertheless,
in spite of his sensitivity to social evils, Federico was never a political
activist. Even though Fernando de los Ríos, who was one, befriended him early
on, the poet never belonged to the dedicated group of student followers that
the Professor of Law won at the University of Granada in those years after his
appointment in 1911.

When Spain’s political and economic crisis reached
its climax in Granada on 11 February 1919, with a demonstration of students
throwing stones at the house of the Mayor, Felipe La Chica, and three citizens getting shot dead, Lorca locked himself
in his room for the duration of the disturbances and refused even to look out
from his balcony, where demonstrations took place daily right in front of his flat,
in the Acera del Casino, close to Puerta Real*. (This is from his friend, the
painter Manuel Angeles Ortiz.) “I frequently went to Federico’s place to keep
him informed of the latest events, for during the two weeks that the incidents
lasted, he never left the flat.” Any kind of violence went against his
sensitive nature, concludes the painter.

Lorca’s caution was perhaps not so
excessive, when one considers that one of the three fatalities on that fateful
February day was Josefa González, a young
housewife, who was hit by a stray bullet fired from nearby Plaza del Carmen while
she was in the interior of her parents’ home in calle (street) Reyes Católicos,
on the corner of calle Mariana Pineda*. In fact, only one of the three victims
of the Guardia
Civil’s repression of that day’s student demo was actually taking part in the
protest. He was local medical student Ramón
Ruiz de Peralta, shot in the head by a zealous Guardia Civil agent. The third casualty
was railway worker, Ramón Gómez, father of a seven-year-old girl, who just happened
to be passing by the puente del Carbón* (calle Reyes Católicos) when he was

Tangible outcomes resulting from these
deaths were a minor shake-up in the corrupt electoral system and Fernando de
los Ríos’s commitment to socialism, joining the Spanish Socialist Workers’
Party (PSOE) and getting elected to the Spanish Parliament in June that same

The protests were
directed against corruption in the municipal administration and most
specifically at the liberal “cacique” (despot) Felipe La Chica whose turn it
was to be in office. “Caciquismo” was still rife in Granada, with conservative and liberal politicians conniving to rig election results, dividing
up sinecures and influential public posts between them, raiding the municipal
coffers to their own benefit, and aided and abetted by corrupt civil servants
who wholeheartedly joined in the graft by falsifying official documents,
including voting lists and election returns. All of this occurred against a
backcloth of economic crisis and poverty, hardship and want for the mass of the

There is little trace of these events and
circumstances being reflected directly in the works of the poet. Nonetheless, Lorca
was not indifferent to what happened and we find his name in a list of
signatories to a telegram of protest from the Centro Artístico addressed to the
President of the Council of Ministers which was published in the Gazeta del Sur
on 15 February. The telegram, while ostensibly trying to avoid taking sides in
the political struggle, condemned and protested energetically against the violence
of the suppressive measures while taking a clearly critical position vis-à-vis
the practices of local despotism and calling for the resignation of La Chica,
who was indeed subsequently suspended from office.

* See the forthcoming blog for an outline
of the location of these places: Acera del Casino, Puerta Real, Plaza del Carmen, calle Reyes Católicos, calle Mariana Pineda,and Puente
del Carbón.

Acknowlwdgements to: José Luis Delgado, Granada Hoy, 10 Feb 2019

High Speed vs conventional trains

AVE (High Speed Train) Posted on Tue, February 12, 2019 19:17:15

In November
2018 the west-bound Moreda line was re-opened, enabling a resumption of the
conventional ‘Talgo’ Granada-Madrid intercity train service after a
three-and-a-half year hiatus. This happened in spite of the fact that six
months earlier, the government had categorically rejected the idea, arguing
that the existing bus replacement service ‘covered the needs’ of travellers
heading for Madrid, Sevilla, or Barcelona. There had been no significant drop
in the number of users since the service was interrupted in 2015 it was argued.
So everything was ok.

this cursory abandonment of the Talgo-Moraleda line is symptomatic of the
relationship between the conventional rail network and the High Speed network,
in which the former has consistently been neglected in favour of the latter.

For example,
over 31,000 million euros have been invested in the High Speed network over the
last decade; compared with just over 6000 million in conventional stock and
infrastructure: a relation of 5:1.

Last year, 2018, a little more than
1000 million euros was invested in the AVE, as against some 337 million in the
conventional rail network. So, 3 of every four euros invested in rail
infrastructure went to the much smaller and less used High Speed network. The
conventional rail network has more than 13,000 kilometres of track, compared to
the AVE’s 3000. 2 million use the conventional network every day; whereas a
maximum of 25,000 travel by AVE.

And while Spain has the most extensive High
Speed network per inhabitant in the world, only exceeded in kilometres by
China, at the same time the Spanish network carries the fewest passengers: less
than 15 per kilometre, as against 50 for France, 84 for Germany, 63 for China,
and 166 for Japan.

imbalance has been largely brought about by the prestige the AVE contributes to
the local political elites and business communities. The fear of missing the
technological bus to the future is also a factor: An AVE-less city risks
marginalisation, and being left behind. Every provincial capital strives to be
on the AVE map, as indeed is the case for Granada.

other words, a high-speed high-prestige rail service for the few is draining
funds from an existing rail network used by an overwhelming majority of the
population, with extremely detrimental long-term consequences. The High Speed
network is an ‘inefficient mosaic’ without any realistic long-term planning in
which delays and ‘unforeseen’ additional costs are the norm and have led to
wasteful or inopportune investments to the tune of some 26,000 million euros
over the last two decades. (From: Ramón Muñoz
Madrid 6 Jan 2019)
Spanish Rail Network, showing existing operational AVE lines


AVE (High Speed Train) Posted on Tue, February 12, 2019 19:02:04

Granada will
be linked to the High Speed Train (AVE) network from June 2019. [See previous
blogs: Oct 2018 (#91); May 2018 (#85);
Jan & Feb 2017 (#54 & 56); March 2014 (48); and Feb 2013 (#29).]
This is almost certainly probably definite. It’s what Minister of Public Works,
José Luis Ábalos, said last
September. And besides, 18 June 2019 is the date that the bus replacement
service to ferry people between Granada and Antequera expires. Until now, the
bus company contract has been renewed every six months since the railway line
was permanently closed for works to be carried out on the new line in April

Well, we said ‘probably definitely’
because, just in case, the bus replacement contract has been extended for
another three months from 19 June, but not, we note, for the usual six. There
has never previously been a contract of such short duration. So we have good
reason to be optimistic. Something is moving. They’ve started training the High
Speed Train drivers, I hear. So if it isn’t June, it will surely be before

The High Speed Train was once
supposed to start serving Granada in 2007. In 2015 the station was closed ‘for
4 – 6 months’ while essential works were carried out. Then they talked about
late 2017 for the first AVE to Granada, then early 2018, etc., etc

But this summer, 2019, you will
probably definitely be able to whoosh into Granada at 300kph from either
Madrid, or Sevilla. Fingers crossed. Or you could catch a plane from seven
European cities. [//]

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