Letras Galegas: Xela Arias on Rosalía de Castro

Source: Real Academia Galega and Xulio Gil

Happy Día das Letras Galegas! Poet, writer, and translator Xela Arias will be honored. Since I’m (currently) a non-Galician speaking galegophile and this blog is in English, here’s a section of her poem A de Quen Comprende translated courtesy of Canadian poet and translator Erín Moure.

The 17th of May brings a new personality and figure for us to get to know. I hope next year, with a better understanding for Galician, I can dive more into the original writings of both Xela and next year’s homage.

That of the one who realizes is no
glad word.
That of the one who transmits is
terminology, useful.
If every day its blast
does not detonate stupidity into shatters
what use are intelligence and feeling.

They made you immaculate. You were needed.
They make you inmaculate. You initiate the long trail.
Look how they crop you,
throttle to the last your right to detonate.
Nothing new, immaculate Rosalía.
It’s how women are always shut into the construction
of others,
you realize:
your own weapon turned against you.
That of the one who realizes is no glad word.

Spanish Thatcherism in Madrid and Tomorrow’s Regional Elections

I never thought I’d be as interested in Madrid politics as I have been for the last month. Basically, the Trumpian Madrid president, Isabel Ayuso, is trying to capitalize on some unstable political alliances throughout the country between her Partido Popular and the centrist/center-right neoliberal Ciudadanos. Ayuso handled the first wave of the pandemic terribly, but has leaned in to this hands off approach by calling it freedom, as opposed to the evil, tyrannical left-wing coalition of PSOE and Podemos in the national government.

She called for elections and to everyone’s surprise, Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos and one of Spain’s vice-presidents, announced his resignation from the national government to run for president of the region (comunidad) of Madrid.

Since then, there has been political violence at rallies, envelopes woth death threats and bullets sent to prominent politicians, a multitude of references to 1930s Spain and the civil war, as well as a normalization of the fascist party Vox and their ideology by the media.

Madrid has been a PP stronghold for 25 years while being known for corruption and privatization.

Sebastiaan Faber and Bécquer Seguín in the Nation:

For the past quarter-century, politics in the Madrid region have been spectacularly corrupt. All four of Ayuso’s predecessors have been investigated or indicted on corruption charges. Meanwhile, the region has become a laboratory for neoliberal economic policies. — Sebastiaan Faber and Bécquer Seguín in the Nation

Brendan Boyle from his article in Jacobin last year:

Ignacio Sánchez-Cuena of the Catalan-based daily La Vanguardia believes that Madrid is a relative outlier in terms of capital cities across Western Europe. London, Paris, Berlin, and Brussels have long been viewed as bastions of diversity and progressive thinking, but the substantial vote in Madrid for the far-right Vox (16 percent) bucks this trend. “The capital city is today the epicenter of an uncultured and exclusionary Spanish nationalism,” he says. “With the security and arrogance that economic well-being produces, the dominant discourse of the right wing in Madrid states that the capital represents modernity and globalization, as well as a proud, liberal, universalist Spain.”

Tomorrow is the election. The left parties (PSOE, Más Madrid, and Unidas Podemos) only stand a chance if participation from traditionally non-voters in the southern working-class cities and districts of Madrid is very high and they gain enough seats to outnumber Vox+PP and form a coalition.

Meanwhile Ayuso has much better odds but will probably need Vox’s support. I’m seeing the Bernie problem again: the only way to change things up is more voices but those voices are small and at a whisper.

Goodbye Nanín: Random Photos from 18 Months in Allariz

I’m sitting in two shipping containers converted into a small 30 square meter house. They’re installing drywall in what will be the bathroom. I’d like to be outside, but it’s raining off and on. I’ll use this time to share photos from the last eighteen months in Allariz.

This was one of the first houses for sale we looked at. I’m very happy to report that we didn’t jump into this and spent more time feeling out the area and where we wanted to be.

Our rental in all her glory. Refreshing and cool in the spring and summer, freezing and unbearable in the winter, but better than an apartment in a city for a global pandemic and the ensuing quarantines.

Like the house, the fig tree was a mixed bag. It gets messy and attracts bees.

The fuente of Nanín, according to locals, gives some of the best water in all of Allariz. Indeed, we’d often see people with many glass jugs of water filling up for the water .

I never tired of trying to photograph nature. As is the case, it never comes out how I saw an felt the landscape at the time, but the the colors of this one from December 2019 is special.

What’s left of the castelo de Todea at the strategic top of a hill in O San Salvador, another village close to Nanín.

The Arnoia river from a walking path close to Vilariño do Río. Monforte also has a river running through it, the Cabe.

Then a pandemic came and I started noticing that Allariz gave me a different feeling. Yes, it was small, that hadn’t bothered me. But only heading down for a weekly market trip was a bit surreal. For months, I would walk up the monte and see what Allariz looked like that day from afar.

I started escaping to the monte much more than usual, usually with Alqo, many times with Patricia. I saw the changes in season and the cycle of vegetation on the same worn paths. Further down from the above image, I saw the tail end of a big boar running from us.

I named landmarks and paths to differentiate them, and to recount what I saw to Patricia if she hadn’t come with me. This is Nanín’s Uluru, aptly named Big Rock by me.

Nervous of the longevity of the quarantine and bored of being cooped up inside, we decided to spruce up the ignored small patch of garden in front of our house. Back up the monte to collect sticks and soil, we made a small raised bed where we planted carrots, arugula, strawberries, spinach, and beets.

With the two-person hammock our friends gave us when we left Germany, the small space actually turned out relaxing. As relaxing as the first months of 2020 could be. The better weather helped immensely.

Last Ramadán, en plena pandemia, felt strange and familiar. As a convert, it reminded me of my first year, fasting at home, trying to explain my decisions to my family. Patricia fasted a bit in solidarity and helped provide us with amazing vegan or vegetarian iftars every night.

Patricia kept up the garden, Alqo did his part and mostly watched, not trying to lay down or dig it up.

And I continued my daily after-lunch walks with the pup, admiring what I hadn’t noticed the day before.

After a strange summer of house hunting, a few weekends at the beach house, and a quick trip to Portugal, fall arrived again. At the peak of summer, the monte was too hot and full of bugs to enjoy. The weather cooled, the bugs disappeared, and we were back to exploring.

In October, we found our spot and the rest is history. I’ll miss a few friends in Allariz. They know who they are. But after talking with a friend yesterday, I realize I don’t have bittersweet feelings about leaving. Here near the Val de Lemos, I’m reinvigorated to explore, keep improving my castellano and galego, meet local and foreign residents, and work on skills and habits I’ve been cultivating. So, Allariz, ata logo!