Vilafames is a picturesque town in the interior of the province of Castellón.
The town, which has been declared of Spanish Cultural Interest, is topped by the ruins of an old Moorish castle that was conquered in 1233 by James 1.
This small town has three large churches. The most impressive being the Iglesia Parroquial.
The town’s real claim to fame is the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Vilafamés, a terrific little museum in a splendid XV century Gothic palace. Opened in 1972 by the renowned art critic D. Vicente Aguilera Cerni, it was the first museum dedicated to contemporary art in Spain. It is home to more than 500 artworks, spanning the various artistic currents from the Valencian artistic renewal of the twenties to the present. The artists exhibiting in the museum have been referred to as Spain’s artistic vanguard for the last 80 years, both nationally and internationally.
While I was editing these pictures it occurred to me that we are a little like the soldiers marching behind El Cid. Slowing moving over hardscrabble earth from one dusty narrow laned village to the next under the ever-present punishing glare of the Spanish sun. I also noticed that besides similarities there are some striking differences as well.
Like the 11th century warriors of lore we have absolutely no idea where we are headed, but then they had El Capitan to point the way. We have Edith and you all know how well that’s working.
While the troops didn’t eat particularly well they did have a pretty good idea what it was. We too are foraging for food as we go, but haven’t found it necessary to slaughter any animals, just yet. On the other hand, we have had meals placed in front of us that have left us scratching our heads in bewilderment. I requested what I thought was a pork chop the other day and got a nicely garnished 2 pound lump of grilled fat. Can’t wait to have that again.
Unlike the defenseless peasants, we haven’t witnessed any decapitations or had to face any psychotic adversaries wielding swords. In the 21st century the weapon of choice is the automobile. I have very nearly been run over twice now and been screamed and beeped at by half the population.
It isn’t just drivers though. Ticket sellers in train stations seem to find us extremely dim witted and annoying. By the time the train leaves the station we are so confused and anxiety ridden that we are certain we are on the wrong train, headed in the wrong direction and when the conductor checks our tickets he too will begin to yell at us and extricate us from the locomotive leaving us stranded at the next Podunk stop until we can find another ticket seller and begin the process anew.
But I exaggerate, this really hasn’t happened that many times.
Like soldiers trudging over the sun-baked plains of Aragon we have had to stop frequently to replenish our electrolytes. While the Knights of Vivar probably drank stale water from old goatskins we tend to consume copious quantities of cappuccino, cervasa and vino blanco. And, of course, there is the ever-present liter bottle of mineral water.
Which brings me to my final observation. Prayer.
People in the 11th century prayed a lot. Besides issues involving the afterlife, they prayed for crops. They prayed that the marauding soldiers wouldn’t steal their crops and kill them all. They prayed for it to rain and they prayed for it to stop raining. They pretty much prayed for everything.
We pray too. We pray for bathrooms. Clean bathrooms. Oh yes, and parking, we pray for parking so we can get out of the car and go to the bathroom.
Our prayers have been answered.