Our first 6 weeks in Rome were a busy time. We had a visitor from Valencia, Enid, who is an American actually. She was here for a week. Then came a couple from the US. He and go back a long ways. And then came Cal. He was married to Peg back in the 70’s and we’ve been keeping up at least since Peg and I married in 1983. I was not until late October that I was able to devote much time to art.
Our time in Valencia is coming to an end, at least for now.
On June 1 we are joining two other RPCV (Returning Peace Corps Volunteers aka ex-PCV’s) who lived near us in Panama for a two day train trip across Tanzania. There might be some wildlife along the way but mostly small viallages, open expanses and hills. That journey ends in Zambia, where we meet up with our nephew who is a PCV there. We spend a week in his village (just six houses there) before traveling across the country to Livingstone. This is the location of the famous and fabulous Victoria Falls. Tons of wildlife in the river and nearby.
There are lots of critters in the area including elephants, giraffe, zebra, antelopes. Lions and leopards are rarely seen. There are also vervet monkeys and lots of baboons. The river above the falls has lots of hippos and crocodiles, the latter weighing up to a ton! There are otters and a wide variety of raptors and waterfowl. Riverine forest is found above the falls, Mopane woodland savanah dominates the area however. We are staying in a backpacker hotel just 8 km from the falls and so we can go often, with transport provided by the hotel.
We return to Madrid after an 8 hour visit to Dubai, where we hope to ascend the world’s tallest building. After an overnight in Madrid (we are leaving our big bags with a friend there), we fly to Paris. We are renting a friend’s flat in Courbevoie for the month while she is gone. Courbevoie is famous for the impressionist painting executed along the river.
After Paris we are in Trieste for a month. Trieste is almost due east from Venice on the Adriatic, on the border with Slovenia, and 90% of rural dwellers speak Slovenian, while Italian dominates in the city. Trieste was part of the Austria-Hungarian empire from the 14th century until it was ceded to Italy at the conclusion of WW1. It has a mild climate, with a high of 28C (low 80’s F) in the summer. We have never been there but it is a city well worth visiting. Since it borders Slovenia, it and Croatia are readily visited as well. We have rented a one bedroom flat near the old port.
From September – late December we have rented a flat in Rome from a couple visiting New York during this period. It is a small house near Tiburtina station and a tram line. Trains and trams are generally faster than buses, which must contend with tons of traffic. We are not near a metro. Where we go next year has yet to be determined. We do think Valencia is in our future, however.
You may know my penchant for these Valencian symphonic bands. We can hear groups of this caliber almost every week at the beautiful Palau de la Musica here in Valencia.
In any case, we heard this composition by Bert Appermont, a Belgian composer who was born in 1973, last Sunday. It tells the story of Lamoral, the Count of Egmont, a descendent of one of Spain’s wealthiest families, who was a general serving under King Philip II of Spain in the Low Countries (Belgium and Holland), in 1560 ruled by Spain. He was born and raised in Holland, however, and after years of military training in Spain and distinguished service in the army, began to protest strongly against Philip II’s cruel and tyrannical government. He was eventually imprisoned and beheaded. To make a long story short, his death sparked the 80 years war that resulted in the independence of the Low Countries from Spain. You can hear the entire story in this piece.
This is a typical band from our area. There are more than 600 of them, most with music schools attached. These people all have day jobs, many of them having nothing to do with music. They do it out of love, often living in the town where they went to the local music school. Sometimes their kids play sitting next to them – I’ve seen a few who look like they’re about 12 years old. Until they are good enough, the kids play in the school band. This performance was taped during a band competition in the area.