Priorat, Catalonia

Long journey. Bumpy ride over the Atlantic. Read this marvel of an insightful poem by Gary Snyder:

As the crickets’ soft Autumn hum
is to us,
So are we to the trees
As are they
To the rocks and hills.

Arrived in Barcelona, where my friends picked me up at the airport and drove 1 1/2 hours in a South-Western direction. The Priorat is contained in a large bowl of granite, a handful of small towns – some with less than a hundred residents – that produce grapes, almonds and hazelnuts. Because there is only dry-farming, meaning that there is no irrigation, and the ground is not rich dirt, not even dirt really, just rock into which the vines drop roots up to 30 feet down to obtain water, the fruit is very concentrated and intense. Similarly the nut-trees are small, but with very flavorful almonds and hazelnuts.

On my last day in the area we drove to Corbera D’Ebre, a town which was the location of the last and deciding battle of the civil war. We took the long route and briefly visited a cave that served as a makeshift hospital. Coming to Corbera we crossed a river in which many of the retreating forces drowned because they could not swim. The town abandoned the buildings bombed during the civil war, which recently have become an art project, the alphabet of liberty.

Route to Peace – LIME
Like most medieval towns, Pinyeres is situated on the highest point of land in its valley, the better to see danger approaching. Throughout the centuries, the more modern town of Batea grew up around it. When destruction came in the 20th century, it came not by land but from the air, delivered not by invading foreigners but by Spanish countrymen.