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Trujillo, Together

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Say it True-Hee-Oh and you've got it, the pronunciation of this utterly charming, quirky, marvelously ancient pueblo in Extremadura, in south central Spain. Much as we loved Mérida, Trujillo knocked us dead, and we were blessed to spend three nights there, making it our base for exploration in Monfragüe National Park, nicely nearby. 

If a town can be cozy, Trujillo is, with high beautiful stone walls everywhere, which cartwheel down to a beautiful square, such that you feel you're in a series of long gorgeous rooms and hallways in a giant house as you explore your way around. Our Air BnB host advised us to park on a comparatively wide city street rather than try to get our car up to our accomodations, and we figured out why that was on the last day, when I had the bright idea to take the car up to grab our luggage, and we very nearly got it stuck trying to turn around when we realized the B. C. era passageway ahead wasn't going to accomodate a subcompact car! 

Imagine yourself in a car, in this...along with Mystery Clink Stew, another nope moment

Aaaack!! Phoebe was at the wheel, and it was one of many times when she gladly ceded her seat to Mama, who has a bit more experience parallel parking and getting out of jams without panicking or despairing. It was the least I could do, as she drove 99% of the trip all by herself, with Liam and me simply enjoying the passing view.

The first afternoon in Trujillo, we stuck to shanks' mare, walking all over the place, and up toward the cathedral on the hill. There's always a cathedral, looking down on everything.

Up and up we climbed, to the top of the town, to the top of a tower.

Soon we could see the beautiful cypress trees tossing in the wind. 

And the red tile rooves of Trujillo were spread before us.
That's a 13th century Moorish fortress to the left, but we didn't make it inside. Next time.

When we finally reached the top, three lil' guys were there to lament our triumph. C'mon guys. Put on a happy face! I had to wonder about the significance of their expressions. What's the deal here? Martyrs? Clueless, once again. Then again, Trujillo is the birthplace of Pizarro, who famously visited the Conquistador thing on the Inca Empire. There's a huge equestrian monument to him in the town square.  Perhaps the stone carver was Inca? You can take my natural history info to the bank, usually, but beware my speculations on human history. They are antic and unreliable.

Liam was so energized by the brisk cold wind and the climb and the fabulousness of this little town that he dropped and gave us ten. I saw a side of our boy that doesn't come out when he's all cuddled up at his drawing table with a cup of hot tea and a scented candle. There's a beast inside, and I love it!

Giving scale to the columnar cypresses, which were just huge. I believe them to be Italian cypress, Cupressus sempervirens. They have biggish globular cones, and they provide the perfect vertical counterpoint to the stone walls and buildings. 

We just had to wonder about this building, which seems to have slumped a bit as it aged over the centuries. Or was it built with a rocky muffin top? Probably so, and probably for good reason. Sort of a Flintstones efffect. 

Ain't no movin' that boulder, so let's just work around it.

I think my favorite times were when we were on foot, just going wherever curiosity led us. 

The concrete beneath our feet had tile incorporated in it. I would have loved to bring that fragment home,  and bent down to pick it up, but it was set in mortar! Such beauty everywhere, such a melange of colors and textures and surfaces and materials! It was in everything we saw, and all of it so ancient. It was humbling to feel so very recent.

Everywhere, the beautiful net-veined leaves of milk thistle were waiting for spring. The flowers will be bright fuchsia pink. Milk thistle is said to aid liver function, and do all sorts of good things. A partial list, gleaned from the Web. Sounds like I better get me some! 

  • Fatty Liver 
  • Lowers Cholesterol
  • Reduces menopausal symptoms Improves digestion 
  • Decrease varicose veins
  • Inflammatory bowel disorders
  • Psoriasis
  • Weakened immune system
  • Adrenal disorders
  • Mushroom poisoning
  • Allergic and inflammatory reactions
  • You name it, this stuff fixes it. Git you some today! (JZ)

  • It's also called Our Lady's Thistle. When Mary was feeding Jesus, some milk dribbled onto the ground and this fabulous plant sprang up. Or so they say over in Extremadura. I can tell you that never happened to me once. My kids were vacuum cleaners.

    We came upon a fenced yard with a dog whose breed I thought I recognized as a Mastin de Extremadura. We were to see lots of these dogs on farms and in the countryside. I was fascinated by them, but they wanted nothing to do with me, being protective and stand-offish with those they don't know. They're big, strong, good looking dogs, bred for guarding sheep and homesteads.

    We found The Scream in an old wooden shutter. This is the kind of shot their dad would have taken. Somebody has to take up the banner! Here's to you, BT3! You live on in these goofballs. 

    On we walked, and the cobbled road came to the edge of town, and all Extremadura rolled out before us. How I wished for a spot of sun, but the brooding skies fit, too, and it was all so beautiful.

    I am given to buying outerwear for my kids in the Eddie Bauer warehouse, and I've only recently put it together that the stuff, especially the women's clothing, that winds up there is often a bit outre in color. I kept finding myself framing Phoebe out of my shots because my artist's eye found her purple shell jarring. My fault, but I got a great deal on it! Take off that damned raincoat, Phoebs, get up on the wall with your brother, and give me your best Irish colleen! Truly, they could be anywhere in Europe in this shot, but it looks like Wuthering Heights. And I am a rich mama. 

    We ended the day with a late lunch in a tiny restaurant with a real character as a proprietor. Iberian pork was the main course, pretty much all that was on the menu, and it was delicious. We tried to order beef but he told us we needed to order the pork because it was so much better. Spain is a very porky place. Also a potatoey place. It is not very lettucey. I'm glad to be back home, grazing on lettuce from the tower room ranch. But I kinda miss the Iberian pork now! We also got Migas, a regional dish that as far as I could tell is leftover bread crumbs tossed in chorizo grease.

    Spain is famous for its food, especially tapas, which are the original small plates. The restaurants serve lunch until about 4:30 in the afternoon. They then close, and re-open for dinner at 8:30 PM. As in, they open for biz at Normal Zick Bedtime. All I can say to that is Ack. And how is anyone supposed to sleep with a bellyful of rich porkiness consumed around 10 pm? Our hack, engineered by our Helpful Ginger Travel Elf, was to sleep in, eat a late breakfast/brunch around 10 am, and tough it out until "lunch" around 4:30-5 pm, which actually served as dinner. That made for some mighty short days, but it worked well with our jetlag, as peninsular Spain is 5 hours ahead of Ohio. There's a hack for everything. And we were hackin' our way through Extremadura, as Christmas bore down on us.


    Oh, been there on the late late dinners in Spain. Considering I have a husband who measures the civilization of a country by how early it serves dinner, Spain was greatly trying to him.
    Love reading your descriptions of the places you went--off the beaten track of the typical tourist tour of Spain.
    So glad you had a spectacular time!

    Love the Thompson version of The Scream — what a hoot! (sort of captures how I’ve been feeling for 3 yrs. under the Donald). But really, how great to have an eye that can could look around and see art or beauty or metaphor in things; I’m too much a literalist.

    Love the hoopoe muppet trees in the third picture. I recall seeing a grumpy sign outside Trujillo with historic info about Pizarro that described him as a malcontent pig farmer who made poor life decisions as demonstrated by his leaving Trujillo and going off to the New World.

    I, too, am an "early to bed, early to rise" person. I would sooner give up eating dinner than give up sleep. Your hack was definitely the way I would go. Even here, when the hubs and I go out to dinner, we're there when the doors open at 5. By 7, we're home streaming Netflix. My younger self would have found this boring, but my older self finds it comforting.

    Posted by mimimanderly January 8, 2020 at 5:15 PM

    Just loving seeing this trip! I've always lost weight when traveling in Spain, while still eating a lot and loving the food, but I'm with you on the late dinner. From what I heard, they are not sleeping on a big meal, but rather going out, even on weeknights, to clubs till the early morning -- at least back in the '80's and 90's. That would be pure hell to me. Your next book, by the way, should be on parenting, because you've done such an awesome job!

    Julie Your family and wildlife and all of us are blessed to have you. Thanks for all you do!
    You work very hard and your gifts and talents are truly amazing . Be well. Arlene

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