Tag Archives: Spain

Capturing local life in Spain’s most ancient, spiritual city

It is estimated that over 200,000 pilgrims go through the several paths leading to Santiago de Compostela every year. Wayfarers from all over the world walk – or cycle – from as much as 1000 km to as little as 100 to honour the relics of Saint James the Great, believed to be buried in the main cathedral of the town.

Besides religious purposes, many embark on this journey for the adventure itself: the hiking and backpacking, as well as the thrill of following over 12-centuries-old footsteps. The most ancient route, the Camino Primitivo, also known as “the original one,” runs from the city of Oviedo and remains the most untouched to date.

The branded signage and souvenir shops of Santiago de Compostela – filled with … Read the rest

The Negro of Banyoles

It’s one thing to keep the mummified body of a thousand year old pharaoh or a monk in a glass case in a museum, and another to stuff the dead body of an African warrior and display it like a trophy along with wild animals. As recently as eighteen years ago, you could have seen him at the Darder Natural History museum in the city of Banyoles, near Barcelona, Spain. He was about four and a half feet tall, slightly stooped, shoulder raised, with a spear in one hand and a shield on the other. His charcoal-colored body was covered by a small orange loincloth wrapped around his waist. For the better part of a century, generations of Europeans gaped at the half-naked body of this … Read the rest

The Keeper of the Golden Keys

Through the cavernous lounge, where ladies with taut faces and tight Chanel jackets gossip over dainty sandwiches; past stiff-backed waiters, skirting around sherry-stupefied old men; and beyond the purplish Doric columns that flank the baroque lobby, Borja Martin Guridi stands behind an ornate hardwood desk. He is the head concierge at the Hotel Ritz in Madrid: the man charged with helping guests satisfy any (legal) desire.

Dressed in a gray suit with his hair combed back in a sweep of brown, Martin is clean shaven and fresh-faced, almost boyish in spite of his 42 years. But his youthfulness and energy belie his experience. Through his job, Martin has met more film stars and shaken the hands of more heads of state than almost anyone in … Read the rest