Showing posts from March, 2016

Invaders not Welcome

Once upon a time there was an emperor that tried to bring most of Europe under French rule. He planned to make Fr ance great and pu t Britain out of business on the Continent. To that extent Napoleon instituted a commercial blocka de against Britain on the Continent, and got most of the European kingdoms to sign it . He had prob lems with two of them, thou gh. Port ugal and Russia complied, but not as well as Napoleon would have liked. In 180 7 General Junot invaded Portugal. He did it overland, because the S panish king, Carlos III, involved in a famil y di spute with his son and heir, Fer nando VII, allowed him to do so. Along the way the French took note of the Spanish defe nse. In 1808 the French formally invaded Spain. The Spanish royal family was taken to France, and Napoleon's brother, Joseph, was named King of Spain. Napoleon's troops invaded all of Spain and occupied the most important cities.  Here in Galicia there was a battle in A Coruña betwe en the British an

Sleepily Searching for an Hour

Monday morning. Light prods at my eyes. I open one eye and lo ok at the bedside radio clock. Past nine o'clock. Why am I so tired? Why a m I not hungry for breakfast? Oh, that 's right . On Saturday night the clocks went forward an hour. I hate the world. So I get up feeling listless and absent. I have things to do this morning. I can't just crawl onto my chair in the study and let the hou rs go by. I have to get up. So I get up, eat a break fast I don't feel like eating, and go do errands. In town, people have longer faces than usual. In the sup ermarket at the checkou t counter, the woman in front of me is kidded by the cashier , who know s her . He tells her s he looks like she's asleep on her feet. She retorts that that is exactly what she feels like .  Since the en ergy crisis of the 1970' s, S pain has installed Daylight Savings Time in the summer. It was supposed to save money, allowing people to turn on the lights later. Perha ps along the Mediterr

Spring Travels

There is a beautiful corner of the coast to the south of us called A Costa da Vela. It's to the north of Vigo, almost opposite the Cíes Islands, sentinels that guard the entrance to the Ría de Vigo. There are some villages scattered about, but the coast that faces the islands is a cliff area, fal ling in a steep slope down to rocks and crashing waves below. Al most along the middle of the coast is a small hill called Monte do Facho. Although it's not even two hundred meters above sea level, it dominates the coast line. And that is why it used to have a lighthouse at its summit. It's also the reason for its name. Facho re fers to a bundle of firewood and hay tied together and used to give ligh t . It (and feixe, which simply means a bundle tied together) come s from the Latin fascis , a bundle, fagot, or burden. Rather than being used as a regular lighthouse, it was used as a warning light . From the top of Monte do Facho you can see for miles up and down the coast.