Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

Narsi After

Narsi is a lovely woman I met in Esparragosa de Lares, who generously allowed me to take photographs of her in the outside bit of her kitchen. It’s the place where she does her washing up and some of the food prep, and there is a big freezer in the corner. I say “outside”, but there isn’t really an inside bit to the kitchen. It’s just a stove in a nook.

It’s my picture for the Room theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge.

There’s a disclaimer here in that I might have totally misrepresented everything I’ve said because Narsi spoke Spanish at lightning-speed in the local village accent. It doesn’t show in the photo, but she is a tiny woman, about a head shorter than me … and I just top the 5-foot mark.

In a nod to Before-After that Stacy conducts on Visual Venturing, I’m including my original photograph. It was taken on ISO 800, f/8, 1/80 at 24mm. The photo was taken at 8.30pm, and the light was starting to fade. So I’ve upped the exposure, taken down the saturation and put in a little bit of definition to bring out the textures. The most challenging bit was correcting the perspective. Almost everything in Narsi’s house is not properly straight or level, and I had to have several goes at getting the lines as right as I could make it. My eyes were wonky afterward.

Click if you want to have a go at ABFriday on Visual Venturing.

~ Spotted Cow

Narsi Before

Blue Eggs


Esparragosa de Lares, Spain

A rural holiday wouldn’t be complete without a farm trip. We took off into the outskirts – a 7-minute walk! – to D’s cousin’s farm. I was excited about seeing the animals, city-dweller that I am. There were just-born baby geese, hens a-hatching, roosters strutting, chickens running away from humans and curious lambs wondering why we were hanging about.

D’s cousin gave us freshly laid eggs which had a blue-ish tinge. Apparently, they are no-cholesterol eggs, although I haven’t been able to verify that. Anybody know?

~ Spotted Cow

Lamb with bell Sheep on hillsideRoosters and chickensHatching henBlue eggs


Tita Felisa

Esparragosa de Lares, Spain

Today I’m going to tell you about Tita. Or Aunty. Our daily holiday schedule in the village revolved around going to lunch at hers. In Spain, mealtimes are late and lunchtime is somewhere between 2pm and 4pm.

Aunty is the family matriarch and D’s father’s sister. She is a sprightly woman in her 80s, with a good bite to her tongue. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of her because you’ll get a telling off the likes of which you haven’t heard since you were ten.

Everyday she cooked for us in her tiny kitchen that just fits her stove and a small counter top. She has a bigger, modern kitchen but she doesn’t cook in there. In fact, her oven is crammed full of bags of potato chips. I was tickled. But out of the cupboard-sized kitchen came the magic of tortilla, ajo blanco, milanesa (breaded chicken), potatoes in tomato, fried chorizo, lentils, meatballs. Hearty village favourites, served with love and a big loaf of country bread.

Tita herself eats sparingly. But the moment you finish the last scrap on your plate, she’s up on her feet, gesturing to seconds and asking if you want anything else. She reels off the contents of her fridge – beer, wine, melon, cheese, yoghurt, yesterday’s leftovers. When we really cannot eat anymore, she tells us what she is going to cook the next day. And then points again to seconds !

During the village fair, the cooking amounts were larger. Her away children came back. Her “English” brother returned. One evening, at half past midnight, we dropped by and there were all manner of immediate & extended family and friends wandering in and out of her house, catching up with each other. From her chair, Tita was chatting and gesturing to food and drink. It made me think of my grandmother’s house when she was alive.

Enjoy the pictures. I don’t have many of the food because I was too busy eating.

~ Spotted Cow

Milanesa and chorizoTiny kitchenDining table

Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-Second Story

bull in the doorway

Remember how I told you that I attended a bull run in the Spanish village of Esparragosa de Lares, where the men were taunting the poor animal. Well, the bull had its comeuppance several times. In this instance – Bull 1, Man 0.

I thought this picture captured the Split-Second Story theme quite neatly for the Weekly Photo Challenge.

~ Spotted Cow

A Week of Un-Connectedness

Extremadura landscape

Phew! I’m re-acclimatising to normal life and working hours. I spent a week in the back of beyond in the Spanish village of Esparragosa de Lares in Extremadura. The village lags time in a wholly lackadaisical way. There is no public wifi, no traffic lights, and no cash machine. There is nothing to buy because there are no shops. Siesta hours are kept, which means that by the time you get up and sort yourself out, you can’t pop out for milk anyway because the store is shut. Plus, it’s long-life UHT milk.

I didn’t think places like these still exist in Western Europe. My friend D invited me. Her father is from the village and she spent childhood summers running wild with her brother and cousins in the arid, yellow surrounds.

We were there on the weekend of the spring fair, when everyone spills out onto the streets. There was a mini bull run, which consisted of a scared young bull running around the plaza, teased beyond an inch of its life by young men.

At the town hall, men and women in traditional garb made tortilla and ajo blanco – which is like a super-garlicky gazpacho without the tomato.

There was sheep shearing, something I’ve witnessed before, but this time I had the privilege of a full frontal of the sheep’s private bits and all. I was treated to some wonderful horsemanship in the horse show. And I partook of the Ruta Tapa, which involved a pub crawl of the three bars and their best tapas. My favourite was the mini hamburger with goats cheese.

In between events, there was a bouncy castle and music blaring from the public speakers till 5am. Still, I slept fantastically – with ear-plugs – in a room darkened by opaque blinds.

Truly, it was a wonderful week. I didn’t miss the shops or social networking, and I came home re-charged.

Next time I’ll tell you more about the people, who are warm and kind and all-embracing. D’s family took me completely into their fold, and fed me. Because after all, food is love.

~ Spotted Cow

Children's bull Bull in the plaza Esparragosa de LaresHorsemanshipSheep shearing