Every December 28 Verdiales bands gather in Puerto de la Torre to compete for a prize and enjoy time with friends. These men are preparing a drink with oranges, probably sangria.
Though the competition is taken seriously, the camaraderie seems to be more important.
I was embarrassed to ask this man to take his picture. His face was half paralyzed as if from a stroke, but he was willing and even looked off to one side when I asked.
A few weeks later I returned with a print to give as thanks. This time a woman approached me and asked what I wanted. I told her I was returning a favor, asked if she was his wife. She replied “more or less”. I’m still trying to figure that one out.
Sunday afternoons the sounds of laughter drift over our next-door neighbor’s wall – deep hearty laughter, the sounds of friends enjoying pleasant conversation and probably good wine. José and Virginia and his mom Mely run a small neighborhood grocery store just down the hill.
José is a bricklayer by trade, but jobs are scarce. Mely’s husband died a few years ago, so they all help keep the household together. And Sunday afternoons, their only free time during the week, they relax. And laugh.
Manolo came into the store and María slipped him a couple of hard rolls. Then she scolded him for something he had said, just like a mother would. Manolo is a hoarder and he smells really bad. But María is really kind to him. She is kind to lots of people. Once she told me that there is more to life than money.
Pictures María took in places like Peru and Norway used to cover the walls, but slowly shots of her granddaughter Nebraska are edging them out – also Bruce Springsteen posters. Maybe when the economy gets better María will start traveling again. She told me she would like to visit India and maybe Canada.
Enrique and other men and boys from his village herded sheep ten months of the year, in Castilla León in the summer and Extremadura in the winter. In his early days they moved the sheep on foot and horseback, and later in trains and trucks. I found Enrique enjoying the sun on his daily walk outside the village, now only populated by old people and summer visitors.
Just outside Puerto de la Torre, where several roads come together, is a small group of houses and cafes. I parked my scooter, ordered a café con leche (un mitad doble in local speak) and sat down to enjoy the late morning air on the patio. These men didn’t arrive together, but seemed to be old friends, in no rush to get back to whatever was waiting for them. In Spain drinks are consumed slowly and sitting down, with plenty of conversation.
I hope that fifty years from now these girls will be just like the women they just passed. What a gift to have a lifelong friend.
I snapped this shot just outside of Atocha Station in Madrid, and didn’t notice the women in the background until later.