Thursday, March 19, 2009

Catalan Meditation

Unknown Guitar Player
Reco de la Calma, Sitges, Catalonia

The picturesque cultural oasis of Sitges lies 35km south-west of Barcelona. It' enjoys a stunning location, between the Parc Natural del Garraf and the shimmering waters of the Mediterranean.

Sitges is a modern resort with a sizable foreign and gay contingent, and also has a a fascinating history. To wander its ancient streets is to be transported to a time when Spain and England wrestled for dominance of the seas. In the 1900s Sitges became a center of Spanish painting and during the Franco dictatorship was the only counter cultural center on the mainland.

Sitges was the perfect place for my friend and I to downshift after two hectic days of overindulgence in Barcelona. On a gloriously sunny day we wandered its streets and soaked up its historic atmosphere.

As we entered Reco de la Calma we were greeted by the gorgeous sound of acoustic guitar reverberating off the stone walls. A local guitar player had installed himself on the steps of a local church and was entertaining day trippers with exquisite Spanish-inflected versions of familiar tunes.

As a boy I would have sold my soul to be a Spanish guitar player. Thrilling to the marvellous Manitas de Plata, I felt there was no higher calling than to be a flamenco prodigy. Nothing seemed more romantic or life affirming.

As I've become older this feeling has remained. Through the years I've continued to admire flamenco geniuses like the traditionalist master Paco Pena and the iconoclastic Paco de Lucia.

As the unknown artist performed his Catalan meditations, I closed my eyes and felt the sun kiss my face. The fantasist in me came to the fore, and I imagined myself as a flamenco master, entertaining the drunken punters of a boozy Spanish bodega, quaffing vino tinto and tearing off one dizzying rasgueado after another.


spaewaif said...

Oh! Sitges!!!
Lovely place to go to before the summer throng invades it!

Shiffi Le Soy said...

My first time there, and hopefully not my last!