Grazalema 17
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White Villages III: Dinner at Grazalema

The long road to Grazalema finally led us to the White Village of Grazalema. Like most other white villages, Grazalema is also on a mountain top so the views from practically anywhere there are breathtaking. Sometimes I wonder whether the locals that live in places like this are conscious of the amazing scenery they have. Do they wake up everyday giving thanks to the beauty they get to see? Or are they so used to it that they are immune and don’t care? Or, as often the grass seems greener on the other side, do they crave the crazy lights and life of a big city?

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Grazalema 07

It was nearly dinner time when we reached Grazalema. We had just enough time to go for a walk, me snap away like a tourist, and make ourselves a bit more worn out to deserve the food better.

Grazalema 01

Grazalema 05

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The Tarte Tatin Flop Not Flop

Even though I hadn’t quite finished yet, I thought I’d give myself and you all a bit of a break from the White Villages with a bit of tarte Tatin. This was my first time making a tarte Tatin. It was a both a flop and not a flop at the same time. I’ll explain. I wanted the caramel to be a bit more compact, perhaps a tad more of a darker golden bronze colour. To my dismay the caramel turned out sort of runnyish and quite pale in colour intensity. On the other hand it was not a flop because it was really good, and even the French part of the Papaya Pieces household thought it was fantastic.

Tarte tatin apples

Apple for tarte tatin

My personal tarte Tatin history started off with my quest last year to make tarte Tatin. To begin with, I needed a special tarte Tatin dish, because you’re supposed to make the caramel and cook the apples on the stove, and then put the pastry on top and shove the whole thing in the oven. The recipient would have to be stove and oven resistant. Like a skillet for example. I wandered around Barcelona looking for such a thing. Whenever such a scarce object was found it was ridiculously expensive and I wasn’t willing to pay for it.

Then last year during our bike ride to Montreuil-sur-Mer, I bought a tarte Tatin dish thing there. I say dish thing because it’s not exactly a skillet. It looks more like a normal cake dish but is sort of more thick, strong and resistant.

I guess I took so long in actually making a tarte Tatin because – typical of me – I assumed it was be extremely difficult. But it was not.

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Road to Grazalema 08
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The Road to Grazalema

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.

– John Muir

On of the things we did one Sunday morning this summer, after spending a few hours paddle surfing, was that we went to church. We went to a mass in a small fisherman style church in Sancti Petri. Surprisingly, it was fun.

The local priest, who was supposed to be on holiday but held the mass anyway, was very good humoured. It seemed that he along with a lot of the locals had done the Road to Santiago pilgrimage together that year. He picked one person from each age group to tell us about their experience doing the pilgrimage. An about 8 year old boy, a teenage girl, a guy in his twenties, a lady about my age, and so on. Nobody was shy about taking the microphone and talking about their journey. The younger people said it was like an adventure, whilst the more higher up in age group, the more philosophical they would get.

The lady that was about my age reflected on how just how consumeristic we tend to get in our daily lives without realising it. Doing a pilgrimage with just the contents of a backpack makes you realise just how many useless things you tend to accumulate at home. And just how too many things you have. And just how tied up in consumerism we all tend to get without even realising it.

Road to Grazalema 04

I totally felt identified with her words. For a born in the Borneo girl like me, I love summer, I love living in nothing but my fraying shorts, top and flip-flops. Plus my camera too. Every summer when we go on holiday and leave the city, we feel that we have been over-civilized, we need nature and wildness. We have a need to let go of the so much materialism we were living on, let go of mass consumer noise, of propaganda, of urgent emails. We wonder why in the city we worry over absurd things. We simply enjoy nature with what little we carry with us.

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Road to Grazalema 01

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One afternoon this summer, we went on one of those magical trips through nature. We were going to another White Village called Grazalema, and we decided to take an even longer route than the long road to get there, just so that we could enjoy the sights. Everything that day was beautiful. I took about a zillion photos. Some of these photos were taken when we’d stop for a short trek. Other photos were directly taken from the moving car.

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Vejer 10
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White Villages II: Photographs from Vejer

One of the White Villages we went to this summer was Vejer. Unlike Medina Sidonia, it was one of the most (cough cough) touristy ones. Even so, it was really nice and yes I would not say you shouldn’t visit it if you were around the area.

It’s quite typical in Andalucia, and Spain, to see ceramic signs dedicated to some important person or another. Usually these are painters, doctors or brave people from the army. It was a nice surprise in Vejer to see one dedicated to a photographer.

Vejer 02

Because I’ve taken a liking to photography, when I plan to do some more serious photos than just through my iphone, I walk around with my camera around my neck. With a camera dangling off me, along with the fact that I look foreign and have a weird accent when I speak in Spanish, I’m aware that most locals take me for another tourist wherever I am in Spain. Sometimes they’ll talk to me really slowly as if they think I’m just learning Spanish. Or they’ll compliment me on my very well spoken Spanish. Which is quite funny. Or they will slowly and clearly explain some kind of local delicacy I have eaten tons of times before.

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Vejer 01

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For me, actually, it’s quite a weird feeling. Yes, I know I look like a tourist, and yes I do partly feel very foreign. But I’m half Spanish so I feel half Spanish, I live in Spain and yes I speak Spanish. I feel like writing on my forehead: no, I’m not a tourist, no need to act like I am one!

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Grazalema sunset
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Autumn Resolutions

September is usually my favourite month in Spain. It’s not too hot and not too cold. The air is crisp and the sky is the most beautiful shade of blue. This year it got off to a bad start. To begin with I had to begin working again after taking a couple of weeks off. Then there seemed to be none of that gorgeous weather. It was just cold, wet and dreadful all the time, as if we had jumped straight into a dreadfully bleak autumn.

However this last week began with a bit of a surprise. It was just how September should be. Along with it and as we have officially entered autumn, I thought I would make some autumn resolutions. Why wait for New Years? Why not just do some small doable ones now. They are:

  1. Eat more healthy. I did quite a lot of sports over the summer, so now to maintain that healthy feeling, I should eat more fruit and vegetables. I do have a strategy for that. Stay tuned.
  2. Play the piano more. I have promised my teacher that for the Christmas party I will be playing Elegie by Rachamaninoff, which is sooo beautiful. I really need to finish studying it and get it perfected.
  3. Do more sports. Stress less and make the time to do more sports.
  4. Smile more. Again, stress less. And do the things that please me more.
  5. A few other long winded things I need to do, but too complicated to mention, so I won’t… Sorry.

Do you have any autumn resolutions?

Even thought this doesn’t mean the end of my summer Andalusian photos, a sunny summer photo here felt contradictory to writing about my little autumn resolutions. so I dug up a moodier darker photo to represent the coming of autumn. It is a false representation because it was taken this summer in a mountainy Andalusian town called Grazalema.

Have a great weekend!