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Woman and Science in Spain
16 February 2019

      Last Monday the International Day of women and girls before Science was celebrated.

Poster of the International Day of women and girls before Science

      But what are the data on the participation of Spanish women in Science and how was that day celebrated?.

      In Spain, 47.7% of scientific and engineering positions are held by women, according to the latest data, published by the European statistical agency (Eurostat), on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. In a sector traditionally dominated by men, such as science and engineering, this datum places our country above the average of the European Union, where women represent 41% of these positions, in this sector.

      Despite this positive data regarding Europe, in Spain, of the almost 1.4 million engineers and scientists, 52.3% (729,000) are men compared to 47.7% of women (665,600).

      At European level, of the almost 18 million people, who worked in this sector in 2017, 59% were men (10.5 million) and the rest were women (7.1 million). Only in five Member States, there was a majority of women engineers and scientists: Lithuania (57%), Bulgaria and Latvia (both 53%), Portugal (51%) and Denmark (slightly above 50%). However, less than a third of the engineers and scientists were women in Hungary and Luxembourg, (25%), Finland (29%) and Germany (33%).

      Regarding the proportion of women, who dedicate themselves to research in Spain, they only represent 39%. A figure that has remained unchanged since the last 10 years. Thus, the Secretary of State for Universities and R + D + i, Ángeles Heras, has presented it during the presentation of the conclusions of the biennial report "Women Scientific in Figures 2017", according to the agency Servimedia.

Angeles Heras

      The Secretary of State of Universities has also recognised that, in the research career, "gender influences". In the fifth edition of this study, these results "are far from being desirable for science, in Spain, and to consider that full equality has been achieved".

      The "glass ceiling" is also present in our country, a phenomenon that means that few women can reach high positions in the scientific world. Heras has denounced that only 21% of the positions of professors of public universities are women and considers that this figure represents a "clear evidence of vertical segregation of gender". Therefore, the "greatest gender gap", in the universities, continues to be registered in the vice-chancellorships.

      In the last four years, the rector women, in public universities, have gone from 2% to 8%. In the group of universities, the proportion has risen from 10 to 15%. Where there is a certain "balanced" presence of women, it is 48% of the Governing Councils and 48% of the faculty and school governments.

      In the international area, the figures are not much better. According to UNESCO, 28% of the scientific researchers, in the world, are women. In terms of female students worldwide, the enrollment of female students, in information technology and telecommunications, is 3%; in natural sciences, mathematics and statistics they register 5%; and 8% decide to study engineering or studies related to the construction or manufacturing.

      The stereotypes and the lack of historical reference of women scientists are behind the few feminine scientific vocations. Recently, a 2017 study, published in the journal “Science”, shows how gender stereotypes, in science, are acquired at an early age and have an effect on interests, since childhood. The results of this study conclude that, at five years, the youngest did not observe differences, but after six years, the probability that girls perceived a person of their sex as intelligent diminished.

      As for the feminine scientific referents, only 17 women have won the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, Physics, Physiology and Medicine, in front of the 599 men who have obtained it. A phenomenon denounced by CSIC research teacher in Science, Technology and Gender, Eulalia Perez Sedeño, who affirms that "there is a lack of presence of women in the histories of science, that not throughout History, because there have been many less than men, because they have agreed to education. Later, in the textbooks, references do not usually appear".

Eulalia Perez Sedeño

      To solve this silence and this unequal distribution, between men and women, several initiatives have been launched this year. On the one hand, during this last week the CSIC has organised more than 200 activities, in their centers in different autonomous communities, between exhibitions, workshops and talks by researchers, in educational centers, not only on genetics or nanotechnologies, but also will explain to younger how they were motivated to become scientists.

Some girls in a science workshop​​​​​​​

      Other initiatives such as the blog "Mujeres con ciencia" (“Women with science”), also aim to disseminate, through the internet, the work of women who have dedicated or devote themselves to science.

      Well, I believe that governments have to push more the work of women before Science.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

Sponsored by Costaluz Lawyers.

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Another rich rich dish by a master of the cuisine in Spain
09 February 2019

      Today I would like to talk to you about a dish, which I have not tasted, but which looks very good and maybe you want to try cooking it: "Fideuá (noodles) with vegetables and turkey" —Fideuá is like a paella, but instead of rice, with noodles--, by the Spanish great master , Karlos Arguiñano .

      These are the Ingredients (for 4 people): 400 grams of turkey breast. 300 grams of thick noodles. 1 spring onion. 3 garlic cloves. 10 green beans. 1 Carrot. 1 green pepper. 1 leek. 1 eggplant. Extra virgin olive oil. Salt. Pepper. Parsley.

      For the preparation of this dish, first you have to add salt and pepper to the turkey, cut it into not very large cubes and skip it, in the paella pan, with a little bit of oil. Pass them, to a ceramic pot, with water and a pinch of salt. Stir them, for 15 minutes. Reserve the turkey and the broth separately.

      Toast the noodles, in the paellera (paella pan). It is important to remove them from time to time so that they do not burn. When they are browned, remove them and reserve them on a plate.

      Then, clean and cut the vegetables (garlic, onion, pepper, carrot, leek, beans, eggplant), in small pieces, and poach them, over medium heat, for 5 minutes, in the same paella pan, where you have fried the noodles. Then, put salt.

      Add the noodles to the paella of the vegetables, pour 700 milliliters of broth and cook them for 10 to 12 minutes. When 2 minutes are missing, insert the turkey dice to heat them.

      Put salt and pepper. Turn off the heat, cover the paella pan with a cloth and let rest a few minutes. Finally, serve the result and decorate with a small sprig of parsley.

      Note:  White meat provides less iron than red meat, but also less fat; so that, for a balanced nutrition, it is interesting to combine both meats in our diet.

      And  this must be the result of the dish:

      Well, I hope that you will like this recipe and hope that you can try to cook it; if you do it, please tell me it.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

Sponsored by Costaluz Lawyers.

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The calm and the tenderness of an octogenarian Spanish painter
02 February 2019

      In the middle of last December, I watched on television a story about a Spanish painter; and this was a curious news, because it said that this lady, octogenarian, was already famous in social networks. So, I started investigating this case and I would like to share it with you.

      Concha García Zaera is 88 years old and she began to draw, in Paint, because her children gave her a computer, to overcome boredom, and she has become one of the most followed Instagram artists. She sweeps social networks and more than 178,000 followers enjoy their works of art. Such is her success that Disney commissioned, a little over a month ago, a drawing to promote its new film, "Mary Poppins returns".

Concha García Zaera

      Concha, of course, fulfilled and painted in Paint a portrait of the protagonist of the film, Emily Blunt. The result is so amazing that the company itself has shared it on Twitter: "On the occasion of the premiere of “Mary Poppins returns”, the beloved artist, Concha García Zaera, pays homage in her Instagram profile, with her particular version of the poster made in Paint. A work of art practically perfect in everything!. If you liked, December 21 in cinemas", the tweeted.

Version of the poster of Mary Poppins returns

      "She is a character that I have always loved", this digital artist assured, and she says that the company's proposal was a real "challenge", because she had never drawn faces.

      For several weeks she retouched the famous nurse's drawing, until she was "satisfied", with special difficulty in the character's hat and hair.

      The digital artist, delighted with the recognition, thanked Disney for the trust they have placed in her: "It was a great honor that Disney wanted to have me to communicate the premiere (...) I am looking forward to watching it, I have always loved it", she said, on Instagram, before the applause and praise from her fans, whose number grows every day.

      In addition to being a great artist, the Valencian artist is humble and recognises: "I have no imagination", she confesses, although she is very good at copying and inspiration comes from anywhere, a pharmacy bag or any shop, a box in a shop window, a postcard (of which her husband sent her on her work trips), a box of a game or drawings of a magazine.

A painting based on a postcard sent to her by her husband

      She recognises that she is "hunting" and "stealing" images, because when she sees something that she likes, she takes a photo and then prints it, she draws a grid and copies it on her computer.

      This facility for copying has allowed her to draw birds, deer, fish or cats, but also lighthouses, the Valencian beach of El Saler, the Greek island of Santorini or Andalusian nooks, of China or of her hometown, such as the Trinity Bridge, the Central Market, the Lonja (Market, a warehouse for keeping fish) or the Cathedral.

A small deer

A lighthouse on the background

The Greek island of Santorini​​​​​​​

An Andalusian nook

A nook of China​​​​​​​

The Trinity Bridge in Valencia​​​​​​​

The Cathedral of Valencia in the background​​​​​​​

      She has special affection to some drawings that show the image of her grandmother's village, Vall de Almonacid, in the Sierra de Espadán (Castellón, east of Spain), where she has spent all her summers and some of which skims the 54,000 "like".

Vall de Almonacid​​​​​​​

      She remembers how "expensive" is which she has called "Lisboon" and that she copies a postcard that her daughter brought her from the Portuguese capital with the tram and with "many small balconies, houses and pots".

The tram of Lisboon​​​​​​​

      Her fondness for drawing is "lifelong", but in general she always did it with pens in a pad; but more than a decade ago, she started going to the Popular University of Valencia and became interested in painting in oil, until her husband fell ill and she left it to take care of him   --because her husband was bothered by the smell of oil-- .

      "At home, I was sovereign bored and, as I complained, my children bought me a computer", she recalls, although she emphasises that it was not for drawing but that she used it to write her memoirs, keep the housekeeping accounts and for her studies of General Culture.

      But one day, she says, to draw a small house and some clouds occurred to her, "a nonsense", that attracted her a lot and, the next day, she improved it with other details and dedicated time and became interested: "And until today".

      She argues that to draw, in Paint, you need "patience, a lot of love and enjoy doing it" and she adds: "And I keep it very often because sometimes, after days with a drawing, it has been erased".

      She detracts from what she does, because It is something that she enjoys and likes, but the insistence of her granddaughters, to share them, led her to create an account on Instagram, that exceeds 178,000 followers and that she herself manages, uploading her drawings and answering all those who praise her creations.

      She explains that she was "very scared" when her account began to rise unchecked and every day she received "thousands of messages", but now she says she knows almost all her followers by her username and that she tries to answer everyone.

      The last June-2018, the Popular University of Valencia, on the occasion of the Cultural Week of the end of the course, exhibited the works of Concha, who was a student of the Center of Nou Moles, of this University, 15 years ago.

Concha in her Exhibition​​​​​​​

      Concha has been defined, by her teachers of drawing and painting, as a naive artist and also an example of overcoming, in the adversity.

      The experience has revealed, in the words of her teachers, "a pure naive artist". In it, we find "the most genuine and well understood naif", says her Drawing and Painting teacher, Lalo Kubala. "The naif has bad press, because there is a lot of bad naive, but the work of Concha is quality naif, vital works, with a magnificent light, a look and a personal framing, that identifies them, as her works in oil had it".

      I want to emphasise the simplicity and tenderness of this lady, that together with her art, make anyone fall in love with her, in social networks.

      Congratulations to all the elderly people, who do not let themselves be intimidated by the passage of time, and have challenges to life.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

Sponsored by Costaluz Lawyers.

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Spanish solidarity made life expectancy
24 January 2019

      Once again, I would like to tell you about the magnificent work that the National Transplant Organization (ONT) of Spain, since it started, in 1989.

      The ONT turns 30 years old with an unbeatable state of health. Spain returns to lead the world ranking of donations and transplants one more year, and there are 27 consecutive. A success that, according to the General Director of the organization, Beatriz Domínguez-Gil, is due to the combination of three elements: the solidarity of citizens, the Spanish health system and a well-designed protocol for action.

Beatriz Domínguez-Gil

      Domínguez-Gil has explained that solidarity and the health system are essential, but by themselves they do not justify the success of the system, which comes hand in hand with what is known internationally as the Spanish model of transplants. "Basically, it is a management model, an organizational model that has defined very well which professional, in what unit, how and according to what protocols it has to act to make donation possible", Beatriz emphasises.

      The data presented by the Ministry of Health, on last Monday 7, show an increase in donations of 37%, in the last five years, which means that there are 48 donors per million people, and is very close to the goal of reaching 50 donors per million people, in 2022, framed in the '50x22 Plan'. It should be noted that the index of the next country on the list of donors, the United States, is 31.7 donors per million people.

Index of donors in Spain

      The ONT estimates that of the people, who die in a hospital, only between 1% and 2% do so in conditions of being donors. "The key to the Spanish model is that it is designed to transform those opportunities into real donations", says Domínguez-Gil.

       A work that falls on the figure of the transplant coordinator, usually an intensivist  --a doctor specializing in the care of critically ill patients--  who "systematically identifies these donation options and approaches the family in a moment of mourning, in a way that highly professionalised".

      As a result of this work, nearly 85% of the families gave their consent to the donation of organs from their dead relative. From the ONT point out that it is because, above all, from the outset help families who have lost their loved person, usually suddenly and unexpectedly, in that moment of mourning. That is why Domínguez-Gil emphasises that there is a combination of factors: "We talked about solidarity, but it is also true that the system works in an equitable and transparent manner, and that makes citizens trust the system".

      These factors have made Spain a reference in this health field. The ONT collaborates with various international organizations, through which it has transferred the keys to Spanish success to many countries; there are already several, who have replicated the model, totally or partially, and have experienced improvements.

      The person in charge of the organism stands out, as a paradigmatic case, Croatia, that "copied all the elements of the Spanish model". They have also incorporated, elements of this system, United Kingdom and Portugal and even Canada or Australia. However, from the ONT, they feel particularly proud of the Latin American Network, where they have doubled their donation activity, since 2005, the year in which they began to collaborate.          

The list of transplanted pacients and their countries

      Just below, on the left, you can see a graph with the rate of transplanted patients per million inhabitants  --Mexico is at the top with 16.1 per million people--  and below, on the right, with Argentina  (14) and Brazil (more than 12) at the head of cadaveric organ donation.

      Some data on which the ONT brings out the best in itsself: "We can proudly say that we have saved more lives outside our borders than within Spain, through international cooperation programs", says its Director.

      Therefore, one of the lines of work of the organization is to advance in international crossed renal transplants. The crossed kidney transplant emerges, as an initiative, in 2009 in Spain, to perform transplants by exchanging donors or kidneys, between donor and recipient couples, that are incompatible with each other. And, in August of last year, it was held, for the first time internationally, among patients from Italy and Spain.

      One more step, that expands the possibilities of patients by increasing couples and genetic heterogeneity. From the ONT, they emphasise that "it is not going to bring its fruit in the form of very striking numbers, but it will bring options to patients who have special difficulties to be transplanted".

      International cooperation is also positive to avoid sanitary tourism of transplants, since, according to Dominguez-Gil, "helping other countries, to offer as many transplant options as those offered in Spain, will prevent what happens or what may happen , which is the transfer of that problem to another country".

      A transfer that, if it occurs, will increase the waiting lists, which vary depending on the type of organ and characteristics of the patients. The ONT indicates that there are patients whose characteristics make it more difficult to transplant than others; on average, the waiting time for a kidney transplant is between one year and a year and a half, while for the transplant of other types of organs it ranges between three and six months.

Organs waiting for some people​​​​​​​

      "Obviously, this calculation includes patients who, due to their characteristics, have more difficulties in transplanting, but they are very reasonable times and we can say, in addition, that most patients, who need a transplant, receive it on time", insists Domínguez-Gil.

      Therefore, the ONT calls to avoid campaigns aimed at solving a particular case: "We understand that people, who promote this type of campaign, do so from their desperation and with the intention of helping, but it is important to say that they are not campaigns necessary and can be counterproductive".

      In fact, our legislation does not allow campaigns directed to a specific person. In the area of marrow donation, this type of campaign is carried out most frequently, which the ONT emphasises is unnecessary because "the system is prepared to respond to the transplant needs of patients, who need it".

      When a bone marrow donor needs to be found, outside of the family environment, it is done in the Spanish registry that is connected to other registries in the world, giving access to the 33 million people, who are registered as potential marrow donors, what you have to add 750,000 units of umbilical cord blood.

      Domínguez-Gil asserts that a donor has never been found for the person for whom it was requested and invites the families, who want to collaborate to do so in cooperation with the health professionals in charge of the case or the regional transplants coordinators, the Josep Carreras Foundation, or the National Transplant Organization. "In such a way that those willingness to help, that energy, that initiative is transformed into a campaign that is adequate in form and substance, and that is much more effective and more appropriate to what is needed".

      Well, I hope that you will like this article. If you know some experience about donations, please tell me as soon as possible.

      Untill soon, kind regards,

Luis.

Sponsored by Costaluz Lawyers.

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In a place in the centre of Spain
14 January 2019

      The novel "The ingenious nobleman Don Quijote de la Mancha", by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, begins by saying: "In a place of La Mancha, whose name I do not want to remember, It was not long since a nobleman lived………”. This ingenious but poor nobleman (a Duke) was called Alonso Quijano  --but he was better known as "The gentleman of the sad figure"-- .

First part of the novel published in 1605

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

      That place, whose name Miguel de Cervantes did not want to remember, was probably the village Argamasilla de Alba (Ciudad Real).

An aerial view of Argamasilla de Alba

The entrance to Argamasilla de Alba

Estatue of Miguel de Cervantes at the square Alonso Quijano

Another statue of Miguel de Cervantes in Argamasilla de Alba

      But I would like to start this article saying: "In a place in La Mancha whose name I do want to remember ..., to continue with this article……”. But later I will say what that place is, that I have chosen.

      Don Quijote (Alonso Quijano) toured other villages of La Mancha  --now Comunidad de Castilla-La Mancha--,  with his horse, "Rocinante", and with the squire Sancho Panza.

      It seems that Miguel de Cervantes locates the origin of Don Quijote in Argamasilla, because Cervantes was a prisoner in La Cueva del Medrano, located in that area and that was where Cervantes began to write the novel.

      "Don Quijote de la Mancha" is considered the first modern novel and the one that demystified the chivalrous and courtesan tradition.

      Topics such as justice, freedom, love, kindness, idealism and social criticism characterise a story full of humor, satire and parody. Don Quijote describes his ideal, as a knight-errant, in one of the most well-known fragments of the work: "They are my laws, to undo wrongs, to lavish good and to avoid evil. I flee from the gift of life, from ambition and hypocrisy, and I seek the narrowest and most difficult path, for my own glory ".

      From that moment, he called Don Quijote de la Mancha himself, baptises his horse as Rocinante and falled madly in love with Aldonza Lorenzo, whom he called Dulcinea del Toboso. He hired a squire, Sancho Panza, and begins his adventure trips driven by kindness and the desire to help the most disadvantaged.

Dulcinea del Toboso​​​​​​​

Dulcinea and Don Quijote in El Toboso​​​​​​​

Sancho Panza​​​​​​​

      The most famous scene of Don Quijote taked place in Campo de Montiel, where he fighted against giants that were only windmills.

Windmills in Campo de Montiel or Campo de Criptana​​​​​​​

        Alonso Quijano went crazy, reading several cavalry books.

      Cervantes conceived this novel, in its most external aspect, as a tool to ridicule the books of chivalry, whose genre, already surpassed at the time in which the great Spanish novelist lived, provoked particular aesthetic preventions in the author, who saw such works as absurd, implausible and written with a false and unnecessarily bombastic style.

      This didactic position justifies the cruel and burlesque attitude adopted by Cervantes, imposing the character, in such a way to its parodic function, that takes the hand of its own creator making him proud to have given life and not forgiving, in the second part, to Avellaneda, to have wanted to usurp his paternity. By portraying, in his madness, the old hero of knightly adventures that fails outside of his environment and his world, the deep Cervantes humor resolves the situation with a real tragic feeling, that pulsates imperiously under the comic clothes of the novel. Don Quijote is the prototype of the good and noble man, who wants to impose his ideal over the social conventions and the baseness of everyday life, acting as a human redeemer of a prosaic reality that hurts and offends him every day, establishing himself champion of the purest essences of love, honor and justice.

      His own pilgrimage, through the dusty roads of the land of La Mancha, between innkeepers, muleteers and henchmen, struggling with hard and mean reality, contributes to his deep human sympathy, even with his ambiguities and extravagances. Alonso Quijano, converted by his dreams into Don Quijote de la Mancha, is first and foremost a man of flesh and blood, and thus, and precisely by virtue of his own humanity, he penetrates the world of the universal and the symbolic. He was a peasant nobleman.

      The story of Alonso Quijano begins when he was 50 years old. He had a strong complexion. He remembered a girl from El Toboso, whom he automatically turned into his Dulcinea, or lady of her thoughts. His physical features and his hallucinated "sad figure", loaded with the old weapons that he carries on his bony limbs, surround him with an aura of heroism that irremediably overcomes the caricature.

      This work is an ironic interpretation of the knightly world that Cervantes knew and loved. There were real cases of madness that could suggest, externally, the idea of the great protagonist of the novel. It has been thought of several characters named Quijada, such as Don Luis Quijada, secretary of Charles V and tutor of Don Juan de Austria, who had features curiously coincident with the Quijote, or a relative of the wife of Cervantes who carried that surname ; Zapata, in his Miscellany, talks about the case of a gentleman who went crazy and who wanted to imitate the adventures of Orlando, as in Don Quijote de Avellaneda, and whose insanity is explained as a hereditary tare.

      Don Quijote, in his first outing, went alone against the world, although later his needed for a figure that at the same time serves as a contrast and lends him his brotherhood will be covered with Sancho Panza, who from chapter VII will be representative of the good sense, the claim to the things of the earth, and that if it ever stops the fantasy of its errant gentleman, others leave it more deeply abandoned to its first and infantile humanity. Since then, Don Quijote and Sancho remain united and opposed, brothers but at the same time hierarchically distinct, within the canons of baroque variety and chiaroscuro.

Don Quijote alone​​​​​​​

Don Quijote and Sancho Panza​​​​​​​

      This union provokes a double current of mutual influences that perfects and civilises the union of the extreme figures that have best embodied the most unbridled pure idealism and the most sympathetically limited and domestic reality. Don Quijote radiates splendors of his greatness, in contrast to the technique of humor, from his first solitary departure through the fields of La Mancha, during the hard month of July, showing us the images of his investiture as a gentleman in the hostelry, between muleteers and lads of the party, and of the brutal beatings that he suffered from curious and arrogant people, rided on his dry and stylised Rocinante.

      Here is Don Quijote, our brother and symbol of love and justice, who faces the eternal Spanish castles that are the windmills, consolidating one of the most ingrained literary myths. These images contrast later with his doctrinal spirit, when he speaks to the goatherds or when he projects his shadow of a mystic before the table of a hostelry, among soldiers, nobles and craftsmen, exposing, in the discourse of arms and letters, the theory of the two Spain of the sixteenth century, the two positions of Charles V's time: the inheritance of Don Juan de Austria, the hero of Lepanto, and that of the scholastic and theological bureaucracy of the bereaved Felipe II.

      In the darkness of the night his figure stands out, among the torches of the adventure of the dead, suggested perhaps by the transfer to Castile of the corpse of San Juan de la Cruz. Thus approaches the divine madness of the greatest and most enlightened poet of the Spanish mystics with the human madness of the most just and chaste enamored with the knights. His figure oscillates between the pain of the sticks of the muleteers and the people of Segovia, the befas (rude derisions) of the superficial dukes and the victory over the Knight of the Mirrors, in the greenest and most flowery fields or in the double light of fiction and novel of the figures of Master Pedro's altarpiece.

      In addition, he will leave the suffering rump of his good horse of flesh to ride Clavileño, which transports him in his fantasy, above the clouds and the stars, like a new Pegasus of the dreamer of the most beautiful illusions, just like also penetrates into the bowels of the earth to discover the crazy secrets of the novel of the cave of Montesinos, along with the obsession with the charm of Dulcinea. Precisely because he is a concrete man, both in his magisterial actions and in his grotesque aspects, Don Quijote can rise to the category of symbol and literary myth.

      The personal aspects of Don Quijote appear, depending on the novel in which they find themselves, in different ways in its two parts. In the first, the episodes are combined that directly refer to the two central figures and that are largely the most famous, as a literary myth, of the whole work  --windmills, flocks of sheep, adventure of the dead , conquest of the helmet of Mambrino, liberation of the galley slaves, diverse events in the hostelry, etc--, and then a great variety of subjects that are inserted indirectly and completely lateral and strange.

      These episodes are but a summary of all the novel genres, that were fashionable: the pastoral, the Italian way of loving, the Moorish, the "exemplary novel", etc. In the second part, it will be Cervantes himself who tells us that the reader, undoubtedly with penetrating intuition, would prefer the feats and conversations of Don Quijote and his squire to other matters, hardly related to them, such as the intervention of the protagonists , for example, at Camacho's wedding, where he falls squarely in the same line of action.

      Once reached the peak of maturity, the novelist enjoys presenting Don Quijote, both in triumphal episodes as in the victory over Samson Carrasco, under the guise of Knight of the Mirrors, or in the adventure of the carriage of the lions, as in the soft intimacy of the house of the Knight of the Green Overcoat, or when collecting the rebellion of the character before his false author Avellaneda. We can see how, towards the end of the novel, the "quijotism" is triumphing, in Sancho's way of being and in the immense network of adventures of the chapter of the dukes, where the chivalrous world prevails, in life and in feelings, with the simulation of taunt, with what constitutes a formidable staging of a whole society that enters into adventures and populates fields, castles and villages; of islands, cavalcades and fantastic and grotesque beings.

      In addition, throughout the second part in general there is an evolution towards the sanity of Don Quijote, deviated by the own phantasmagoria, built on purpose in the episodes of the dukes. Once the protagonist has been defeated, in Barcelona, the novel ends with the pain of the worst defeat, suffered by the errant knight and his anguished return to his village, recovering his reason on his deathbed.

      Between the first and second parts, that really wrote Cervantes, appeared the second volume of Ingenious nobleman Don Quijote ... of the lawyer Alonso Fernandez de Avellaneda. Cervantes was very upset with the usurpation and with the tone of disdain, employed by Avellaneda in his observations, and, in the prologue of his second part and in the final chapters, satirised very harshly the apocryphal author, who was hiding under a pseudonym.

      Don Quijote de Avellaneda is a vulgar falsification of the fundamental conception of the novel, turning Don Quijote into a brutal and monomaniac character, lacking in flexibility and grace. His contemporaries only understood Don Quijote in its most superficial and comical aspect, although Romanticism, especially German, valued the type of Don Quijote interpreting it as a humanly melancholic character, with a deep philosophical content.

      Well, as I said at the beginning, now I would like to say what is the place of La Mancha, which I want to remember. That place is in the outskirts of the village Madridejos (Toledo), because, a few weeks ago, a brother of mine sent me a photo, which he made, outside of Madridejos --specifically on Avenida de Europa, Kilometre 108--, where there is an industrial warehouse of the company MAYCOMETAL, SL, a company that manufactures metallic structures and, next to that warehouse, you can see a metal figure of Don Quijote and, very close to it, there is an old train locomotive. Then, when my brother saw that, he imagined Don Quijote fighting against the locomotive, instead of fighting against a windmill. You can see that image below:

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Don Quijote and the locomotive​​​​​​​

The map of Madridejos​​​​​​​

An aerial view of Madridejos​​​​​​​

      At the entrance of Madridejos, you can see another image of Don Quijote.

Image of Don Quijote

      And in the village, you can see the statues of Don Quijote and Sancho Panza.

Windmill in Madridejos​​​​​​​

      Well, I hope that you will like this article. Please tell me if you have ever read this novel.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Landelino Lavilla: one of the promoters of the Constitutional pact in Spain
27 December 2018

      On December 6, we (the Spanish people) have celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the Spanish Constitution.

      That same day, Landelino Lavilla Alsina was interviewed by the journalist of Radio Nacional de España (RNE), Iñigo Alfonso.

Landelino Lavilla inside the State Council

      In July 1976, he was appointed Minister of Justice of the Government of Adolfo Suárez. In the Constituent Legislature of 1977, he was appointed Senator by His Majesty the King Juan Carlos I. Deputy for the province of Jaén, by the Centrist Parliamentary Group (GC), in the elections of 1979, he was elected President of the Congress of Deputies.

Landelino Lavilla Alsina in 1977

First Government of Adolfo Suarez​​​​​​​

Landelino Lavilla and Adolfo Suárez (on the right side)​​​​​​​

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Landelino as President of the Congress of Deputies​​​​​​​

      Landelino Lavilla, as the Minister of Justice, was one of the impellers of the Constitutional pact.

      This is the interview with Landelino Lavilla by Iñigo Alfonso:

Iñigo Alfonso:  Mr. Lavilla, good morning. How are you?.

Landelino Lavilla: Very well, also on a specially marked day, that should start well and should end well.

Iñigo: Today, forty years ago, it was a historic step. What do you remember of that morning of December 6, when you went to vote?, I do not know if you were worried, because of the answer, that society was going to give, to that text agreed in the Congress?.

Landelino: There was no restlessness. I believe that we had done such a conscientious, so clean, so generous work and we had mobilised the awareness that we had mobilised the Spanish people with enthusiasm, it was very perceptible. I remember that, in September, when we published the first Draft Law of the Political Reform, I remember that there were those who asked: “ Who is in this?, Who supports you?, and I answered: "We have not done anything else more than making it public and an illusion has been perceived, in the environment, as a tranquility ... ". Why a tranquility?. Well, because I think that there was the awareness that we were new people, serious people, that we posed all that and also in very intelligible terms. Think you that we did all the first operation with a Law of 5 articles --that was the Law for the Political Reform--; of course, invent a formula of that type, that will unite the legal order and that would allow the transformation to be carried out in a calm, peaceful way....--what at that time we called "the reform in opposition to the rupture"--; no, we are going to do it by evolution and, in less than a year, we will have Elections and we will have a Democratic Parliament.

Iñigo: Mr. Lavilla: you were in the first Government of Suárez, in that hinge Executive, which first guided the Law of Political Reform and then facilitating the work of the parliamentary groups, in the Congress, the drafting of the Constitution. Where did the key to the success of this political operation reside?.

Lavilla: We had the King, at the head of the Head of State, which facilitated the operation of transformation by reference; that was a cover. Next, the appointment of Adolfo Suárez, in the Presidency of the Government; Adolfo Suárez, with his mixture of audacity and prudence, made a very serious team, very well chosen; one of the virtues of Adolfo was that he had perception, political sense and all that; it was to make a group of people, who we thought about it seriously, with a task to carry out and a mission, in which what we had to do was to incorporate attachments generously, and those accessions were developed step by step. I remember that, in one of the first steps, certain people told us: "You are naive, it is impossible for this operation, as you have told it, to move forward". But also someone told us: "It is very difficult to get this operation, but if it goes well, it seems good to me and I enter the game".

Iñigo:  And this political attitude, in favour of the agreement, do you perceive it today?.  Is this attitude present in the political leaders today?.

Lavilla: No. I think that period was a stage and a specific operation, so defined, so sharp and it was so easy to mobilise the generous adhesions, delivered to say: "Here what matters is the objective"; that is to say, here the problem is not to say that one is more right-wing or of left-wing; here what is tried is to see how we achieve a general objective, in which we can achieve an order of coexistence for all ..., as far as we can , on the right, and as far as we get, on the left.

Iñigo: Today Spain is very different from forty years ago and it has very important challenges, including solving the Catalan crisis. I want to ask you, Mr. Lavilla: Does the Constitution provide enough tools to solve this crisis?.

Lavilla: It has to give them; that is, the Constitution, respecting the essence of the Constitution and not considering that it is a sacred text, that can not be touched, can address the novelties, the new needs that are produced, even the deviations, the corrections ... ; in some occasions, they have asked me: "Why did you do that?", it´s just that, at that moment, it had to be done; today, myself maybe would not do so, but at that time it had to be done, because there was a conditioning and we were going to do a certain operation and, for that to go well, we had to do it. They speak to me of the Electoral Law ..., well, the Electoral Law could have corrections but, Do you think that by committing to make Elections, in less than a year, for example we could make an electoral map, with the Single-member districts that they did ...?, How far would we have gotten there, in the lack of understanding ....?. No, we chose the provinces, because here could be the problems that were with the regions, the communities and whatever you want ...; I have always said: "We all felt each one from its province ...", there was no doubt. And then, to take, as a reference, in the organization of the electoral map, the districts, the provinces, greatly simplified; and do not tell me that there are more populated and less populated provinces ..., we have to do a balanced thing, territorially and democratically, and we have to operate on bases, that are accepted and that legitimise the whole process ... and so is how that was developed.

Iñigo: Today is a very happy day for you;  I see you happy, Mr. Lavilla.

Lavilla: Man!, It is, it is. It is one day ... well, there was been a period, until things started to twist ...; but well ..., that is ... I do not remember who is the author of the phrase "No one can think of making a Constitution for all generations and for the future", evidently the generational relays come, the problems are also different ... that is to say, because here there are our problems and not our problems, because of course, there are many problems here, which occur in Spain, but also occur in much of the world and here we have the echoes, the resonances of all that. Man! What is it that one can notice of difference ?, because all this could be done without losing the constructive will of understanding, of concord; that is, it is a democratic order, it is a constitutional order, it is a legal order in relation to which coexistence among Spaniards does not have to suffer serious problems  --there will be problems, because every day there are problems, but those ruptures, the ones that we were so accustomed to in our history, did not have to exist. And the problem is when the problems begin and, instead of having an answer ,it was to say "Let's find a solution" , as it would have been in our time, although the challenge was different, now we are in a moment where there should be a reaction, to redirect, reorient, that you change what you have to change, you have to place everything by paths through which our coexistence becomes reasonable again--.

Iñigo:  Landelino Lavilla, thank you very much for accompanying us, this December 6th. Happy Day of the Constitution.

Lavilla: Thanks to you ... Thank you very much.

      Currently, Landelino Lavilla is 84 years old and a Permanent Minister of the State Council.

Landelino Lavilla in the State Council

Landelino Lavilla in his office

      In another recent interview (in February 2017), Landelino said: "The rupturism, that was marginalised in the Transition, has returned".

      Well, I hope that you will like this article.

     Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Thanks and Merry Christmas from Southern Spain
21 December 2018

      Today I would like to thank all of you my readers, for having followed my blog, and with so much patience, this year, that now it is over.

      But I would also like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2019, in the company of your children, your grandchildren, other relatives and friends.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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A Spaniard teaches us to overcome our fears
13 December 2018

      Three weeks ago, I was thinking about 'commitment' and in particular, when we do not want to take sides in a conflict, either for fear of the consequences or due to laziness.... Then, I searched, on the Internet, for a conference of some spaniard, about the Commitment; but I could not find anything.

      However, few days later, I found a very interesting conference, by Miguel Ángel Tobías, about the fears that do not allow us to advance in our life.

Miguel Angel Tobías

      Miguel Angel is a Producer and Film Director. In 1994, he started working at Telecinco (on health issues). Then he worked at Telemadrid. Later he worked in Antena 3 and, finally, he was hired in Televisión Española (TVE)  --where he started presenting two galas and the specials of Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve--.

      In 2003, he founded Acca Media, with the intention of covering a clear gap in audiovisual production, to unite the concepts of culture and entertainment. With this premise, he created one of the most successful television formats of the last decade,”Españoles en el mundo” ("Spaniards in the World"), which he produced, directed and presented, at TVE, during its first stage.

      From there, he developed a whole line of work with the idea of producing and directing audiovisual projects that serve society as Training, Dissemination, Education, and that promote universal values, such as Equality, Solidarity, Justice, Peace ...

      Miguel Angel has also developed other formats for television and documentary series.

      Committed to the diffusion of values, citizen awareness and mobilization, it has dedicated enormous resources of its own to the dissemination of social, solidarity and charitable causes. He produced and directed, as if lost, the first and only documentary, made in Haiti, after the devastating earthquake, in 2010, “Sueños de Haití”, with which he raised funds, for different projects in that country.

      In 2014, Miguel Angel premiered the documentary "Gurba, La Condena".

      In 2015, he filmed the documentary "Rising Nepal", about the earthquake that devastated that country.

      In 2016, he premiered the documentary "El Caos y el Orden", about the life of the painter and sculptor, Manuel Felguérez, from Mexico.

      In 2017, he premiered the documentary, "Gritos de silencio", against bullying.

      At the same time, and for two years, he has been working on the documentary, “Un dia en el mundo” ("One day in the world"), about hunger in the whole earth.

      The last audiovisual project, by Miguel Angel, in coproduction with TVE and in this year 2018, is the film "My name is Gennet", which tells the story of the first Spaniard congenital deafblind to get a university degree  --it is the first in Spain and in Europe--.

      But, in addition to working as Producer and Director, Miguel Angel also offers talks and conferences at Universities, Congresses and Companies, on Human Rights, Solidarity, Leadership, Dignity, Creativity and Entrepreneurship. One of those conferences is the one that I would like to summarise to you next.

      In 2015, Miguel Angel received, from the President of the Republic of Italy, the decoration of Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy (Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity), in recognition of his personal and professional commitment, with the Social causes and Human Rights.

      Among his lectures, there is one, in Seville, that I have found  --as I said at the beginning of this post--.

      With this conference, Miguel Ángel wants us to think, dream, imagine and be emotional; and he will try it with the help of another person.

      He says he has been traveling the world, with his cameras, for fifteen years.

      In those fifteen years, he has seen and known many stories  --and has told some of them-- of people who have shown him that the origin does not have to determine the future.

      Nobody has chosen where to be born, nor the circumstances that we have, that sometimes have us trapped, condition our life and we do not know how to escape; but Miguel Angel has met people who have escaped. Then, he reflected to try to understand what those variables were, what conditions us. Miguel Angel discovered that all those people had one thing in common: fear.

      We all have fears: we are afraid of Being afraid.

      We are afraid, on our way, to Fulfill our dreams, in order that our origin does not determine our destiny.

      Miguel Angel says that we are afraid of the Determination: fear of not being able, not believing enough in ourselves to ask ourselves: Will I be able to reach that place I want to reach?. He says that we are all capable of doing what we set out to do and nobody will ask us how much we have been slow to get it or how much effort we have had to make, what matters is to achieve the objective. We have to overcome that fear of Determination.

      According to Miguel Angel, we are afraid of Rejection; but to what rejection?. Rejection can not be felt by those who love us, because if they reject us, it is because they do not love us. And if a friend rejects you, at some point, it is not that he rejects you, but that he was not your friend.

      We are afraid of the rejection of the rest of society, because many people criticize or advise us, everyone thinks of our life and that should not matter to us  --as it does not matter to people who are capable of causing their origin not to determine their destiny--. For that reason, it does not make sense to be afraid of the rejection of people who really do not care about our lives.

      We are afraid of Failure; that is why we do not undertake many tasks. But the failure is not to have reached the goal that we proposed ourselves. No, failure is not trying it. All people, who have changed their origins and who do not condition their destinies, have overcome the fear of failure.

      We are afraid of not having sufficient Commitment with what we have said we want to do or want to achieve. We have that fear because we have been taught the logical sequence: desire is before the will. For example, I want to buy a car -- first I want it-- and then I save money to buy it. But it really is not like that --and the people who have fought so that their origin does not determine their destiny know it-- ; first I have to have the deep commitment to want to save money and, later, I want to buy that car. This is a very powerful tool and all people, who make that their origin do not determine their future, know it  --and apply it-- .

      We are afraid to Surrender, along the way. We are all very ashamed; but not by what others think  --remember the fear of Rejection ... Rejection of who?--. Surrender to who, to ourselves?. Sometimes we want to try challenges, for which we are not well prepared; we tried and maybe we did not succeed, but we did not fail, because at least we tried.

      And then, we have a huge fear of trusting. But it turns out that this is an irrational fear. We trust the politicians, the bus driver, in our hearts  --that it does not stop beating--; but we rely on those things, which we can not control and on which we can not make decisions. For example, I have to trust that my heart keeps beating, because I can not do anything in order that my heart do it or not. Therefore, the people who are able to change the destiny that their origin had determined them, they trust in themselves. They trust in their hearts.

      All the people, who have managed to get out of that destiny that they had predetermined, have done one thing: put their hearts and trust. Miguel Ángel calls this: "to be able to jump fear", because "LIFE, with capital letters, is on the other side of fear", this side is survival: work to eat, do everyday things .....; but maybe this has nothing to do with our dreams. Because we have many obligations to many people; but with ourselves we only have one obligation: to pursue our dreams. It is the only obligation. Pursuing our dreams does not guarantee our happiness; but not chasing them will give us unhappiness. It does not matter if we stay halfway, because we have been able to jump to the other side of fear.

      At this point, Miguel Angel introduces us to a person, who represents everything he has explained to us. But before presenting it, he asks us to cover our eyes and be silent for ten seconds; then he wants us to imagine that it was like that forever. That person has been able to overcome fear of fear, not be afraid of whether she will have determination or not, that she does not mind rejection, that she does not mind failure, commit to pursue his dreams, know that she will fight until her last forces (not surrender) and, in addition, trust.

      Miguel Angel has filmed the film of that person's life, and that person is called Gennet. And Gennet appeared on the stage of the conference, to tell her experience.

Gennet between Miguel Angel and the Gennet interpreter

The film “My name is Gennet”

      Miguel Angel says that Gennet was born, in Ethiopia, thirty-seven years ago, in a family of shepherds, nomads, very poor. Her biological parents, with four more siblings, decided they could not care for her; that if they stayed with her, her daughter was going to die. So they took her to the capital (Addis Ababa) and after trying to get the doctors to help Gennet recover her sight and hearing, when the doctors told the father that it was not possible, he understood that he could not go back with Gennet to his home and, therefore, he entrusted her in an orphanage of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. At that moment, in Ethiopia, there was a terrifying hunger; the nuns of that orphanage could only give Gennet and the other children a plate of food. And, when Gennet was sicker, weaker, a Spaniard (Carmen Corcuera), who had gone to Addis Ababa to visit her daughter, appeared in that orphanage  --by chance or because she did not want to accept that her origin was going to determine her fate--, she met Gennet, she was impressed and the two weeks, which she thought to be in Ethiopia, became three years. Then, Carmen adopted Gennet and brought her to Spain. Gennet came when she was  9 years old and without any intellectual stimulation  --because the nuns did not know how to communicate with her--. Gennet, in Spain, began an academic development, which made that ,at the age of 21, she entered the Institute --beginning at 11 years old--. And 4 or 5 years ago, she became the first deaf-blind, to obtain a university degree, in all of Europe.

      If Gennet had not been able to overcome all those fears, which we have analysed before, she would not be here, being what she is.

      Gennet says that she was afraid, when entering the University, because she thought that she did not have that capacity. She also knew that it was going to be a tough situation for her: but she found the support of her adoptive mother and, thanks to her, Gennet lost her fear of being in the University and she got her degree  --also with her effort, of course--.

       She was also helped a lot by the interpret, whom she had in the Institute, because it gave her a lot of security  --although with the communication tablet, she no longer needed the interpreter, in the University—.

      Gennet also was afraid when she did the university entrance exams; but she got a good grade and got what she wanted. Gennet says that it is true that she has had many fears, but thanks to her mother, who gave her peace of mind, she was able to overcome them. When her adoptive mother died, gennet looked for that kind of support in other institutions. With that help, she has turned those fears into a struggle of life, to achieve everything that she propose herself.

      Currently, Gennet lives in Seville, independently, with her dog  --who supports her, in nearby locations. She has had a dog since her mother died and Gennet went to live in Seville, from Madrid. She has new friends and each time she meets more people. She says that in close locations she handles herself well, with her dog; but in places further away from home and around, she needs the help of her personal assistant.

      At this point, Miguel Angel highlights the merit of Gennet, when his adoptive mother died and she went to live alone in Seville  --but she was not afraid to change the city--. Gennet, who does not see or hear and has no sense of smell  --with the result that  she has almost no taste--  learned to cook and iron  --that is what you can see in the film--. Miguel Angel says that in the film Gennet is also seen with her dog; but it is not a guide dog, as everyone thinks, but it is a dog that Gennet adopted, because it was going to be sacrificed.

      Another surprise is that Gennet went to the refugee camps, in the Sahara, to give courses to teachers, who work with deaf-blind people, to encourage them to work with children who are deaf-blind. And Gennet does not say NO to anything. With everything that is asked of her, she is jumping fears.

      Miguel Angel asks her what is the most important thing in her life and she replies: "The most is to feel happy, to feel calm, to feel good, even having changes in my life, but to feel good, to feel calm".

Gennet is happy in Seville

      Currently, Gennet is working, as a special educator, in the only residential center for children who are deaf-blind, in Spain,

      Miguel Angel also asks her what frightens her now, if she fears the future; and Gennet replies: "No, fear no, I have experience of having felt fear, at other times, and then I feel calm, in that sense; I have people around me, I am not alone, I know certain solutions for certain problems, that can arise and, then, I feel calm”.

      To finish, Miguel Angel asks her what would be the message that she would like to give to all those attending the conference. And Gennet answers: "I want that, through the film that I have participated with Miguel Angel, be seen the evolution that a deaf-blind person can have; that Society knows what is deaf-blindness; that my example serves as an example to follow, in that sense; that this disability is known and that Society knows that the deaf-blind can do everything, independently, and that we can be effective, just like any other person”.

      Miguel Angel asks Gennet What would be her advice to people who have so many fears, but we do not have any disability. And Gennet says: "Regardless of whether there is disability or not, you must leave fear out; you must give priority to feel good; doing things that benefit you; being aware that you are capable of doing anything, with disabilities or without it, in exactly the same way as another person; do not feel less yourself, because you see less capable yourself, but quite the opposite; promote your ability, which surely you have it".

      Gennet says goodbye to the public saying: "I am delighted to be here and thank you very much".

      Miguel Angel also says goodbye saying: "Life is on the other side of fear, thank you".

      Well, I hope you will like this article, as well as me. I liked the courage and determination of Miguel Ángel, when he decides to look for impressive stories, like Genet's, and he tells them with his films; but I have also been impressed by his own story of overcoming, when in 2003, he went with two friends to Los Andes. They climbed up a mountain and, suddenly, all three felt sick. Then, Miguel Angel decided to go down the mountain, with a great effort, to ask for help; but he was so bad that he took refuge in a corner and fell asleep. After a while, he noticed a hand, which touched his face –it was his hand, of course--, then he woke up and, with a great effort, he began to walk. He was lostwithout food and water and freezing to death--. Suddenly he found a small road  --built only to build a warehouse and, therefore, almost no car circulated over there; but, surprisingly, a very old man appeared, on his motorcycle, and he helped Miguel Angel to get out of that situation, which seemed miraculous. Miguel Angel tells this experience in his book “Renacer en los Andes”--.

      On the other hand, I have identified with Gennet  --In spite of the apparent differences, because she has had more difficulties than me-- , because I have had many difficulties, in my eyes, since I was born; but with a great tenacity, with a lot of discipline and a lot of self-love, I have been able to overcome some fears and I achieved my challenge of being a Bachelor in Image and Sound. I always had the great help of my parents and also of other people; but I also tried hard, because I trusted a lot in myself. That is why I was not afraid of several operations  --because I knew I was going to improve a lot, as it happened--. That is why I did not care when some people did not trust me --I did not want to hold a grudge against them, not even those who made fun of me, for wearing glasses; but I did not want to waste my time listening to them either--. So, that was my “recipe”, that was my Commitment, with myself. At the end, I found the word Commitment of which I spoke to you, at the beginning of this article, remembering my own experience and through the impressive stories of Gennet and Miguel Angel.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Fuentebella: another nice and abandoned village in the north of Spain
26 November 2018

      Fuentebella is a depopulated and old municipality of the province of Soria. Autonomous Community of Castilla y León. A village of the region of Highlands and the Valley, that belongs to the municipality of San Pedro Manrique.

      I have chosen this village, because I find it very beautiful: with the stone houses  --which look like they were painted in pink--  and the pink roofs, almost all the houses look the same ...

The map of Castilla y León in Spain

Provinces of Castilla-Leon

A general view of Fuentebella

Fuentebella close up

Another view of Fuentebella close up

Several houses from anothe angle

The bell tower of the church

      At the end of the 70s, the locality was constituted in constitutional municipality, in the region of Castilla La Vieja, judicial district of Ágreda, that in the census of 1842 counted on 40 homes and 158 neighbours.

Ágreda

      At the end of the XX4th century, this municipality disappeared, because it was integrated in San Pedro Manrique, it had then 34 homes and 135 inhabitants.

San Pedro Manrique​​​​​​​

      Together with other villages, in the Sierra, in the 60s, the lands were bought by ICONA to be reforested.

      Although geographically it belongs to the district of San Pedro, for the ecclesiastical administration, the locality belonged to the diocese of Calahorra, and to the judicial party of Ágreda for the administration of Justice.

      Well, I hope that you will like this article and hope that you will can visite this small village, as soon as possible.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

Sponsored by Costaluz Lawyers.

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Sea shells in southern Spain
19 November 2018

      Today I would like to share some photos with you, which a brother of mine made a few days ago.

      Yes,  he was on the beach of Getares (Algeciras, Cadiz) and saw how a girl was putting several shells on a small wall, on the seafront of Getares; he liked the scene and decided to take several pictures.

The beach of Getares

Another view of this beach

The beach close up

A part of the seafront of Getares​​​​​​​

The seafront and Gibraltar in the background​​​​​​​

The shells put by a girl and Gibraltar in the background​​​​​​​

The shells close up​​​​​​​

Another view of the shells close up​​​​​​​

      I wanted to talk about the shells on a beach of Algeciras  --and therefore, of the Campo de Gibraltar--  because it seems unfair that, lately, on television, they only talk about this area as the main focus of drug trafficking; but they do not speak of many honest people, who work hard, every day, to raise a family and an entire area, which has many riches, such as a great variety of fish –for example “The Voraz” is a fish that you can only find in this area, because it lives in the Strait of Gibraltar--, and many companies that, with much effort, offer several quality services to their customers  –for example, recently, IMPULSA (a business group destined to promote the excellence of this region of the Campo de Gibraltar) has been created.

The Campo de Gibraltar​​​​​​​

      You can identify a Voraz thanks to the black spot that it has near the head.

A Voraz​​​​​​​

A meeting of IMPULSA in Algeciras    ​​​​​​​

      Well, now I am going to talk to you about shell.

      The shell serves as a defensive element for mollusks to protect themselves from the external aggressions of their predators, and as an anchoring point for their muscles and organs. That is, for protection and anatomical support. It has three layers, although some of them can disappear in certain groups of mollusks. The innermost is the nacre or endostraco. It is an organic mixture of layers of conchiolin (a scleroprotein, related to chitin that forms the shell of insects, crustaceans and other organisms) and aragonite crystals.

The mollusk inside the shell​​​​​​​

A shell with nacre​​​​​​​

A sea shell open​​​​​​​

      The intermediate layer is the mesostraco, where prismatic crystals of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) appear, in the form of aragonite or calcite.

      Finally, the periostraco is an organic layer of conchiolin. It could only be said that the conchiolin resembles keratin, because both are scleroproteins.

      The nacre is secreted by ectodermal cells of the mantle of certain mollusc species. The blood of molluscs is rich, in a liquid form of calcium, which is concentrated outside the bloodstream and crystallises as calcium carbonate. The individual crystals of each layer differ in their shape and orientation. The nacre is deposited continuously on the inner surface of the shell of the animal (the pearly iridescent layer, also known as mother-of-pearl). These processes provide the mollusk with a means to smooth the shell itself and defense mechanism against parasitic organisms and harmful wastes.

      When a mollusk is invaded by a parasite or bothered by a foreign object, that the animal can not expel, a process known as “encysting” enters into action, by which the offensive entity is progressively involved, by concentric layers of nacre. Over time, what we know as pearls forms, and the “encystment” is maintained, while the mollusk lives.

A shell with a pearl​​​​​​​

Mollusk with pearls​​​​​​​

      The shells are very durable and remain much longer than the soft-bodied animals, that produce them. In places, where large amounts of shells accumulate, sediments are formed that can be converted by compression into limestone. When the mollusks die, the shells are dragged, by the currents, towards the shore of some beach.

A large amount of shells on a beach​​​​​​​

A few amount of shells on a beach​​​​​​​

      It is secreted by the mantle, a skin fold that covers the body of the animal and serves as the basis for the subsequent deposit of mineral salts. These crystallise, in different ways, giving rise to the different layers of the shell.

      They are, in their majority, “dextrógiras”, ie, the spiral that constitutes it is always rolled towards the right. There are others (very few) that are levorotatory (that is, to the left), such as the “Neptunea contraia” or “Sinistralia maroccensis” and, sometimes, there is a levorotatory specimen of a species that is normally dextrorotatory, due to a mutation produced in the first stages of the development of the larva.

      I take this opportunity to express my desire that nobody throw plastics to the sea and thus allow shells and other marine animals to live in peace within the sea.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

Sponsored by Costaluz Lawyers.

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