Monday, August 25, 2014

Plato Mixto – (Mixed Plate)

Another guest post from Karyn on our adventures here in Spain! Among all of this fun, I continue to work here counting raptors (12,700 on Monday!), banding birds (69 Black Kites banded yesterday), and writing manuscripts. Enjoy!

Plato Mixto – (Mixed Plate) – by Karyn deKramer

The friends I have made in Spain are very warm and welcoming, sharing their culture and traditions. One such tradition is the sharing of different plates at the evening meal. Plates of different varieties of meats, fish, vegetables and such are ordered and shared between all at the table. So it is here, that I share with you, a mixed plate of stories and adventures.

Cueva de los Antepasado de Nieves (The cave of the Ancestors of Nieves) -14.1km / 521 meters of elevation gain - Near Facinas, Spain.

Our sweet friend Nieves led us on a very special hike to view prehistoric cave paintings. Nieves left work to pick us up in Tarifa for a 2pm start as Rob and I had dinner commitments with IBO/Migres that evening at 8:30pm in Tarifa – it would be a full day.

She came prepared with photocopied pictures of the images we were to see as well as the decipher key of what each symbol is thought to represent – water, trees, flocks of birds, boat, human, animal, star, etc. Nieves grew up in this area and it was obvious that this place was very special for her and now for us as well. She pointed out the area her family had occupied for many, many generations in the cork oak forest.

It was a very hot afternoon and we appreciated every little breeze that came our way. The trek started out on a rocky, rolling, and unpaved road that was slightly tinted ‘rojo’ (red) with iron oxide.

We could see the cave in a rock face in the rolling hills of cork oak in the distance above us.

Nearer to the cave, we veered off the road and onto a trail. With sandaled feet, Nieves led us like a javelina through the jungle of thorny, wicked, tangled brush. We lost the trail a few times but managed to continue to regain the way.

Reaching the cave, we welcomed the cool interior. The cave was incredible, consisting of sandstone that has been eroded into holes and twisted designs. Nieves encouraged us to look around and discover the prehistoric paintings ourselves. We enjoyed the exploration, found swift and wasp nests, and then Rob discovered the panel of paintings.

We enjoyed deciphering the symbols using the photocopies Nieves had provided of the early 1900’s documented discovery. She explained that there was another panel depicting a horse, and dots resembling a map that she had not found. This was her third time coming to this cave. We sat at the opening and enjoyed the vast view of the valley below.

Rob and Nieves viewing the landscape.

Nieves spoke of her generations of ancestry and memories growing up near this incredible area, surrounded by cork oak forest and wildlife. We joked and laughed that Nieves’ prehistoric ancestors might have been the ones who painted in this cave in prehistoric times. Suddenly, Nieves sat up excitedly. She walked over to the wall and pointed at her discovery – The panel with the horse and dots resembling a map! She had found the missing panel. It was very faint, but there it was.

Map and horse (on the right, not really visible in this photo).

Thank you Nieves, for sharing such a special place with us and a great hike!

Nieves after discovering the final panel.

Mtn. Bike Ride: Carrizales Loop 41km / 890 meters elevation gain / 3hrs

It was a perfect morning, cooler than most with a pleasant breeze. Rob and I boarded the bus down to Tarifa and rented some nice mtn. bikes at AOS which is located at one end of town. We pedaled a steady, scenic climb up into the beautiful Alcornocales Park (cork oak forest) on gravel road, crossing streams along the way. Climbing to the top, passing churning windmill farms and then down rolling hills, through desert terrain, the road narrowing as we go. Through a cow herd (perdon!-pardon me), over the next roller to find incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea. Next, on to a beachfront trail (is this a cow trail?), followed by a climb up to the paved bricks of old town Tarifa (pave!), through the arch, weaving traffic to finish the loop at the bike shop (AOS). Looking at the time, we scurried on to catch the next bus home to Pelayo which left in 8 minutes! We sit on the bus, with big smiles on our faces having completed a sweet loop and another awesome day on a bike in Spain.

A Night in Tarifa – Big 50 for the Boss

Greg – IBO Boss turned 50 while visiting us in Tarifa. Emmy made him a fantastic card with 50 birds drawn on the front.  The four of us (Greg, Rob, Emmy, Karyn) celebrated by dinning in Tarifa at Otro Melli which is located in the central plaza. While sharing platos of Spanish cuisine, we were entertained by street musicians. Up first, a Flamenco guitar player, followed by a Beat Box duo …with sax, and theatrical performance – it was great!

Boss Greg with his homemade birthday card (Thanks Emmy!)

The Vuelta

Stage 2 of the Vuelta a Espana started in Algeciras and raced through the town of Pelayo today into San Fernando. It was incredible to see all the people in this little town of Pelayo lining the autoway to catch a glimpse of the riders! I walked up to the ‘blue’ pedestrian bridge that crosses the autoway to find it already packed with spectators waiting to cheer on the riders. The breakaway of riders came through with Spain in the lead… the pack followed shortly after…then the stream of team support vehicles –bicycles loaded on top! It was really awesome to witness.

La Vuelta stage 2 leaders through Pelayo, Spain


La Vuelta stage 2 main pack through Pelayo, Spain

‘Take Off’ – Peregrine Falcon, Spain - Original Watercolor 11x15

With limited supplies and so much to capture and experience here in Spain, the artwork I have been doing has mostly been in the form of sketching from life or memory in my sketchbook, thinking through compositions for future paintings, or creating digital drawings on the ipad from photos and memories captured here in the field. I was really excited and honored to be asked by my new, dear friend Eddy the Eagle to paint this incredible scene from his photo of a Peregrine Falcon taking the first flight of the morning from an alcornoque (cork oak tree). It is always a pleasure for me to connect my art to others who share my passion for wildlife, nature and art. My first watercolor painting created in Spain of a ‘Spanish’ Peregrine Falcon taking off from a tree that defines this area of Spain. For many reasons this will always be a very unique and special piece for me.

Take Off! Original Artwork, Karyn deKramer.

----- Thank you Karyn!

For more background on our two months of studying birds at the Strait of Gibraltar in partnership with the Fundación Migres and Boise State University’s Intermountain Bird Observatory, refer to my last seven posts.

Post 1: Our First Days Back in España

Post 2: Mucho Flamencos!

Post 3: Birds, Birds, More Birds, and Whales!?!

Post 4: In and Around Our Temporary Home in Pelayo, Spain (Accidently deleted)

Post 5: More Andalusia Adventures

Post 6: Sleep Not For The Birds

Post 7: The Rock!

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