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This is a very special site for me. I can express this way my perception of reality through these photo image creations and share them with you as if you were at my home.

Spanish researchers show that an oral anticoagulant delays Alzheimer's
14 October 2019

      Researchers at the National Cardiovascular Research Center (CNIC), in collaboration with a team of scientists from the Rockefeller University of New York (USA), have shown that treatment with the drug dabigatran, a direct-acting oral anticoagulant, It is capable of delaying the appearance of Alzheimer's in mice.

Researchers  at the CNIC

CNIC

Rockefeller University​​​​​​​

      Specifically, according to the results, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, after one year of treatment with dabigatran, the animals did not experience memory loss or decrease in cerebral circulation. This therapy also reduced brain inflammation, vascular damage and reduced amyloid peptide deposits, typical signs of Alzheimer's disease.

The news of the study in the Journal​​​​​​​

Dabigatran​​​​​​​

Brain inflammation​​​​​​​

Brain vascular damage​​​​​​​

The peptide Beta-Amyloid​​​​​​​

      In recent years, it has been discovered that this type of dementia, which affects tens of millions of people in the world, is associated with a decrease in cerebral circulation, so that the brain cells do not receive all the necessary nutrients and oxygen and they die.

       It is also known that Alzheimer's is a multifactorial disorder with a chronic prothrombotic component. Given this situation, the new study has combined physiological and molecular techniques, to demonstrate that long-term anticoagulation, with this medicine, improves the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's, in a transgenic mouse model.

      Specifically, the mice in the study were shown several closed doors and only one open; after one year, the mice treated with Dabigatran remembered the open door, to hide themselves and, however, the mice not treated with this medicine did not remember where the open door was.

      Due to the progressive aging of the population, it is estimated that the number of people who will suffer Alzheimer's will triple in 2050, since every three seconds a new case occurs in the world and, unfortunately, the treatments approved to date only temporarily help with memory problems, but they fail to stop or reverse the symptoms.

      Dabigatran, thanks to its "high efficacy and fewer side effects" than other classic anticoagulants, is approved for use in different human diseases. "This discovery is an important step forward to transfer our results to clinical practise and thus achieve an effective treatment for Alzheimer's disease", said researcher, Marta Cortés Canteli, from the CNIC and responsible for the study.

Marta Cortés Canteli​​​​​​​

      Likewise, the general director of the CNIC and one of the main authors of the work, Valentín Fuster, recalled that neurodegenerative diseases are deeply linked to the pathology of the cerebral vessels, so he has stated that the study of the brain-heart nexus, in Neurodegenerative diseases, is the "challenge of the next decade".

Valentín Fuster​​​​​​​

      Pending future analysis in humans, the researchers believe that this study suggests that dabigatran could be a possible future treatment to normalise cerebral circulation in Alzheimer's patients.

       "To carry out this individualised treatment, it will be necessary to develop a diagnostic tool that identifies those Alzheimer's patients, who have a tendency to coagulate. That is one of the lines of research that we will focus on, in the coming years", Cortés Canteli has settled.

      This study began in the US, six years ago, with US funding and has been completed, in Spain, thanks to various national and European grants, that allowed Cortés Canteli to move her research line back to Spain, in 2015.

      Well, I hope that Spanish scientists can continue investigating, to finally end Alzheimer's disease and other diseases such as stroke and cancer.

      And I also hope that you will like this article.

      Until  my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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A sauce with a lot of history in southern Spain
02 October 2019

      Last June, the University of Cadiz resumed its studies on the Garum (a sauce much appreciated in the Roman Empire) in Bolonia (Cádiz,Costa de la Luz, Southwest of Andalusia).

Cadiz University

Roman people

The area of Bolonia on the right side

      In that area of Bolonia are the ruins of the Roman city of Baelo Claudia, built in the 2nd century BC.

Mockup of Baelo Claudia

Another mockup

Aerial view of Baelo Claudia currently

The cove of Bolonia from its dunes

Ruins of Baelo Claudia​​​​​​​

      Researchers of the research group HUM-440 of the University of Cádiz and the Archaeological Ensemble of Baelo Claudia of the Junta de Andalucía have discovered two complete Roman salazone factories (named “Cetaria”), in an excellent state of conservation, in Baelo Claudia. It is the first time that organic remnants of salted tuna have been documented throughout the Ancient World (called “salsamentum” by the Romans), thanks to the discovery of skins inside some pools.

The two factories close to the sand of the beach​​​​​​​

The two factories up close

      In August-2017, the archaeological campaign of the general project of maritime economics and fishery activities, in Baelo Claudia, was finished, directed by Professor Darío Bernal Casasola, from the Archeology area of the University of Cádiz. After more than a month of excavations, the study has been completed, in the fishing-canning district of the Hispano-Roman city of Baelo Claudia, one of the most important archaeological sites, in the western Mediterranean.

The Professor Bernal​​​​​​​

Archaelogical excavation in the fishing neighbourhood of Baelo Claudia​​​​​​​

Aerial view of some basins for making Garum​​​​​​​

      The findings have been "spectacular", according to its promoters, and are part of the Industrial Complex XI and XII (the two canned fish industries), unknown until the beginning of this latest work, where the most accurate methods of excavation and study have been applied, in the face of reconstruction of the type of food produced there, between the 1st century and the 5th century AD. It is an interdisciplinary research, still rare in the Humanities field, through which archaeological (micro-spatial excavation), archaeozoological (studies of the fish bones appeared), palynological (analysis of the remains of pollen) and archaeometric (chemical analysis of organic waste, among others) analysis have been done.

      Likewise, the Garum (sauce derived from the fermentation of fish in saline medium) has been studied, through residues of its manufacture, still intact, at the base of some amphoras.

      The last month of June the archaeological excavation of the two canned fish industries (known as the XI and XII industrial complexes) was completed. This work has lasted four years and incorporates an interdisciplinary study of its structures, with the most modern techniques ranging from biomolecular archeology to the study of organic waste adhered to the walls of saltwater basins. In these, the tuna was salted and the famous sauce (Garum) was produced, that so much fame gave to these Andalusian lands, in Rome and in all the corners of the Empire.

Basins for Garum​​​​​​​

The same basins up close​​​​​​​

Another basins for Garum​​​​​​​

The basins up close​​​​​​​

Excavation of a basin​​​​​​​

      Researchers from the University of Cádiz, after years of study, have come up with the formula of garum and market it, under the name of Flor de Garum, since 2014.

Cooking Garum​​​​​​​

Sauce Flor de Garum​​​​​​​

      The research, carried out in Baelo Claudia, has allowed, for the first time in the world, to locate remains of salted tuna meat, from Roman times (called salsamenta by the Romans) or to determine the importance and uniqueness of local fish sauces, such as the garum of hedgehogs or the one made with aligotes.

One Aligote

      Likewise, they have made it possible to determine with precision the system of specialised quartering of the tunas, which today we call 'ronqueo', and which has its roots, at least, in Roman times. And to know, in detail, the exploitation of marine resources, in the waters of the strait, over time: from the exploitation of cetaceans to the use of mollusks for the production of fish sauces, such as the famous oyster garum;  from shark fishing to the elaboration of fishmeal and fish oils.

Ronqueo in the fish market of Barbate (Cadiz)​​​​​​​

      These studies place Baelo Claudia at the international forefront of the knowledge of the exploitation of marine resources, once again. In fact, in these field studies, more than twenty researchers have collaborated, in addition to doctoral students and students in training from Spain, Argentina, Ecuador, Italy, France and Mexico. These studies are supported and funded by research projects of the Ministry of Culture of the Junta de Andalucía and the State Plan for R + D + i of the Ministry of Science and Innovation, with the collaboration of more than a dozen universities and research centers, from several countries.

      The study of the tuna bones of a pit has made it possible to reconstruct the system of selective cutting of these large animals, very similar to the "ronqueo" that is still being carried out, in a perfectionist way, in the tuna bed of the Strait of Gibraltar. And fishing gear and iron tools related to the cutting and filleting of these large migrators have also appeared.

Remains of tuna bones​​​​​​​

      These findings "are extremely relevant because, due to their organic nature, they are not usually kept in the archaeological record, since it is a unicum and Baelo Claudia is one of the most important places in the world for knowledge of fishery and canning industry from Roman times, base of the craft traditions that have been maintained, in the Strait of Gibraltar, until scarce generations ago", according to Professor Bernal.

A part of the excavations​​​​​​​

Another view of the excavations​​​​​​​

Salting factory​​​​​​​

The salting factories in the background​​​​​​​

      Strolling through its streets, we recognise, in the remains of Baelo Claudia, the best preserved Roman city, in Spain. All the representative elements that constitute the essence of a city of the Roman´s time are located: the forum, the temples, the basilica, the market, the theater, the thermal baths, the industrial district, the aqueducts, the complete wall ...

A map of the main monuments in Baelo Claudia​​​​​​​

A street in Baelo Claudia​​​​​​​

Another type of pavement​​​​​​​

Remains of the Forum or Public square​​​​​​​

The Forum up close​​​​​​​

The Basilica or Palace of Justice next to the Forum​​​​​​​

The Basilica up close

The Basilica from another angle​​​​​​​

The statue of Trajano from another angle

      Going down to the beach, you can find the two temples.

Some visitors looking at the ruins from one of the two temples​​​​​​​

The Temple dedicated to the Goddess Isis​​​​​​​

      Here below you can see first the remains of the two temples and, secondly, on the left, the Basilica; in the background and on the right side, the dunes of Bolonia.

The ruins of the two Temples​​​​​​​

The Temples up close​​​​​​​

      Now you can see the Market of Baelo Claudia:

Remains of the Market

The Cardo of the Market

Note: Cardo is a term used in urban planning in the Roman Empire. It denotes a north-south facing street.

Another view of the Market​​​​​​​

      Here below, you can see another representative element of Baelo Claudia: the Theater.

The Theater with the beach in the background

An aerial view of the Theater​​​​​​​

The Theater inside

The Theater from the stage​​​​​​​

The terraces of the Theater​​​​​​​
      

Performance of a play​​​​​​​

The actresses of the play​​​​​​​

      Just below, you can see the thermal baths:

The Thermal baths of Baelo Claudia  

 Another thermal baths

Other thermal baths up close

      Now you will see some images of another representative element of Baelo Claudia: the Industrial district.

Access to the industrial district

      Here you can see the residential area:

The residential area in the first place

Remains of some houses on the western edge of the city

A house of Baelo Claudia

Remains of domus

      Note: Domus is the Latin word with which a type of Roman house is known. The domus were the homes of families of a certain economic level, whose head of household bore the title of dominus.

      Another representative element of Baelo Claudia was the Aqueduct:

Aqueduct to transport drinking water

A general view of the aqueduct

      Another representative element of Baelo Claudia is The Wall:

A part of the Wall

      Outside the archaeological site of Baelo Claudia, you can see a very special tree, called Ombú, which is native to South America --and it is special, because it is unusual to see a tree like this in these latitudes--.

The Ombú

      This Ombú of Baelo Claudia has a spectacular size, with a height of 13 metres, a forked shaft a few metres from the ground and an exceptional thickness of 7.5 metres perimeter.

The Ombú from another angle

A restaurant with a parking on the left side of the picture

      You can see a picture of the remains of one of the doors to enter Baelo Claudia:

East gate of the wall​​​​​​​

      On the left side you can see the Ombú; in the right side you can see the Basilica and, in the background, you can see the dunes of Bolonia.

      To visit the ruins of Baelo Claudia, you can park your car in that parking lot and, next to it, you will see a square building, where you will see a small museum, with images of Baelo Claudia, and you can also purchase the tickets you need to visit the ruins. If you want to ask for tickets there, you can call to the telephone number:  956 106 797 –although I can tell you that tickets are free--. But if you want information and an appointment to go with a group, you have to call the phone: 956 106 793.

The entrance to the building museum​​​​​​​

Some amphoras in the Museum

In the right side of the building you start your visit

The building from the tour route to visit Baelo Claudia

The building from another angle

The Capitol area on the right side

The Basilica from the Capitol viewpoint​​​​​​​

The east gate

Another part of the tour route​​​​​​​

Another view of the tour route

The Theater  from the tour route

The Museum from another part of the tour route

The Isis Temple viewpoint

The Basilica in the left side

The Basilica in the right side​​​​​​​

Factories zone

Port zone​​​​​​​

The last ruins close to the dunes

Aerial view of the Bolonia area

      Well, I hope that you will like this article and hope that you can go to visit those interesting ruins of Baelo Claudia.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

Please click below:

 

 

 

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El Portichuelo: a famous restaurant in the southwest of Spain
01 July 2019

      Today I would like to talk to you about a restaurant that is in the city of Huelva (province of Huelva, Costa de la Luz, Southwest of Spain): El Portichuelo.

      The Portichuelo Restaurant is a classic of the capital of Huelva. The firm has been satisfying palates of neighbours and visitors for more than three decades, both in Alonso, where it started its journey, and in the heart of Huelva.

A map with the area around Huelva

Aerial view of Huelva​​​​​​​

The street Gobernador Alonso​​​​​​​

Terrace of Portichuelo in Plaza de las Monjas​​​​​​​

A map with the street Vazquez López​​​​​​​

Terrace before the entrance of the restaurant

The entrance to the restaurant next to the Grand Theater​​​​​​​

Inside the restaurant​​​​​​​

The dining room​​​​​​​

A corner in the dining room​​​​​​​

      In Portichuelo, the traditional products and recipes of the area are worked well, so they do not renounce the flavours of a lifelong. At this point, the menu is drawn with fish, seafood, meat, homemade stews, scrambled, offal ... Do not stop asking for scrambled eggs, lamb shoulder, cuttlefish meatballs and cheeks that they cook here. Neither the ears in sauce.

      The star dish of Portichuelo is this one (named: “Pimentá con sardinas asadas”):

Sardines with roasted peppers​​​​​​​ and onion

Sea bream with whiskey​​​​​​​

Clams on the left side and Coquinas on the right side

The typical white prawns of Huelva​​​​​​​

Langoustines in tomato with fried eggs​​​​​​​

Cuttlefish stew with rice​​​​​​​

Cuttlefish meatballs with potatoes

Homescrambled eggs

Lamb shoulder strap

braised beef cheeks​​​​​​​

      Each day, they prepare a different stew to accompany the beer. On the other hand, the wine list is extensive and denotes a commitment to the wines of Huelva. Among the desserts, all homemade, highlight the three chocolates cake, the biscuit cake, the crème caramel of home, the tocino de cielo or the white mousse. And, above all, a lot of fresh fruit, which every day is less when eaten on the street.

White wine Viña Barredero​​​​​​​

Tocino de cielo​​​​​​​

      This is the Portichuelo´s owner:

Manuel Gómez​​​​​​​

      And this is the address of Portichuelo:

Street  Vazquez López, 15 (next to the Grat Theater)

21001 Huelva  (Huelva, Costa de la Luz).

Telephone number:  +34 959 24 57 68

Meal times:    Sunday 9:00 to 17:00 hour

                      Tuesday to Friday 10:00 to 00:00 hour

                      Saturday:                 10:00 to 17:00 h.

                                                        20:30 to 12:00 h.

       Well, I hope that you will like this article and hope that tou can go to Portichuelo some day.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Isla Verde: a living History in southern Spain
12 June 2019

       Today, I would like to talk to you about the history of a city in the south of Spain: Algeciras (in the province of Cádiz).     

      The convulsive historical evolution of Algeciras and its periods of boom and decay –it was razed by the Normans, in the year 859, and the Berbers of Sulaymán al-Musta'in, in 1011, and ended up destroyed and erased from the map by the Nasrids, around year 1379-- evidence both the strategic importance of the city, its port situation, its owners and those who sought to dominate it, as well as its frequent crisis of political and military instability. This caused that it was besieged, in numerous occasions and, finally, destroyed and abandoned.

      After long and fruitful periods of boom and demographic, economic and cultural development, during the Caliphate and the Almorávide and Almohade stages, the hour of disappearance arrived as an urban enclave: the last and definitive destruction was suffered by the city around 1379, when Sultan Muhammad V of Granada ordered it destroyed, leaving the city and its term uninhabited until 1704, when it began to resurface with neighbours from Gibraltar.

      Since antiquity, the founding of a new city had to respond to certain physical conditions such as edaphologic, orographic, climatic and hydrological, as well as ideological and strategic approaches, that its founders sought to know and verify before starting the construction of the new city.

      Ibn Khaldun (fourteenth century) refers that to found a city, it was necessary to choose a place, where the air was pure and not prone to diseases and that it was necessary to attend to several questions: first of all the water, since the city had to be located on the banks of a river or in the vicinity of several pure and abundant springs. To be protected from surprises, --writes the famous sociologist and historian-- he must have a wall encirclement that surrounds all the houses and occupy an invulnerable and elevated point on a sea peninsula or a river. It must have nearby suitable lands for the culture and to count in its environs, with a forest where its inhabitants, can be provided with firewood and beams for the constructions ...

      Al-Yazira al-Jadrá (the Island or Green Peninsula) was founded by the Governor of North Africa, Musà ben Nusayr, next to the barren city of Iulia Traducta, in the spring of the year 712.

The Isla Verde on the right side and Gibraltar in the background

La Isla Verde up close

      He chose the summit and slope of a peninsula, located between the river, --which was later called wadi al-'Asal, (Rio de la Miel = River of Honey) and the coastline, at the place where, a year before, the Berber leader Tariq ben Ziyad had disembarked and established his camp, fulfilling the premises laid out by Ibn Khaldun: easy defense, existence of farmland (fertile and extensive fertile plain of the river and wide spaces for the sowing of cereals bread), nearby forests, elevated and healthy settlement , sheltered port, etc.

Rio de la Miel

Another section of the river

Washers in the river formerly​​​​​​​

The river near the sea​​​​​​​

The river from another angle

The River and Algeciras in the background​​​​​​​

Aerial view of the mouth of the Rio de la Miel

Another view of the mouth of the river​​​​​​​

The mouth of the river up close

Another view of the mouth with the Paseo de la Conferencia

      Although some Arab authors say that the city, that later became known as Algeciras, was an enclave inhabited by the arrival of the Arab-Berbers in 711, the truth is that, as archeology has shown, when Tariq established his expeditionary camp where he later It would erect the city of al-Jazeera al-Jadra, occupying a hill located north of the river, surrounded by it, facing the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Iulia Traducta, now abandoned, or only used as a small and occasional enclave port.

Ruins of Julia Traducta

The ruins up close and the port in the background​​​​​​​

Another angle of the ruins

      The Dikr (XIV-XV centuries) refers to Algeciras saying that it was a city founded, in antiquity, by the primitive inhabitants of al-Andalus. According to al-Zuhri (XII century) it was erected by the Goths, although it is said that it was founded by the Greeks, who settled there in the time of Abraham. The Ajbar Machmu'a (11th century) say that once Tarif Abu Zur'a landed in Tarifa, in the year 710, he went in algara against Algeciras; he made many captives, as neither Musà nor his companions had seen them similar, he collected much booty and returned safely to Ceuta. Al-Maqqari (XVII century) repeats the same text, but adds that, according to others (chroniclers), Abu Zur'a entered with three thousand men and heading towards Algeciras, its inhabitants fled from it. Almost all burned, burning a large church that they had, took a few prisoners, killed others and returned to Ceuta. Ibn 'Idari (twelfth century) refers to the fact that, when Tariq ben Ziyad landed in Hispania, at the time there were the foothills of the mountain (of Gibraltar) lookouts of Algecira al-Jadrá. Al-Maqqari takes it for granted that Algeciras was a city with port activity, when it was taken by Tariq in 711. This chronicler remarked that Tariq wrote to Musà, asking for troops and informing him that he had conquered Algeciras, the port of Spain, and dominated the passage of the Strait.

      The church Our Lady of La Palma was opened to worship in 1738, because the Chapel of Our Lady of Europe was too small.

      And the Chapel of Our Lady of Europe was built in 1690.

The Chapel Our Lady of Europe in 1954​​​​​​​

      That was the appearance of the Chapel after its remodeling, after the Lisbon earthquake, in 1755; it was replaced by a small Baroque style building in 1769.

      And today it looks similar:

The Chapel at present​​​​​​​

The Plaza de la Constitucion and the Church of Our Lady of La Palma, before 1931

The Plaza Alta and the Church of Our Lady of La Palma in the 50s and at present

Gibraltar up close and Algeciras on the right side​​​​​​​

      It is very probable that these stories, which refer to facts very far in time, are idealised and manipulated by these late chroniclers and that the truth is that Tariq could only find a small harbor, sparsely inhabited in the lower course of the Miel River, when he landed with his troops, in Gibraltar, in the spring of the year 711. Ibn Ibn Abd al-Hakam (9th century) writes that Tariq set off (from Gibraltar), passed a bridge that led from the Mountain to a town called Qartayyana ( Carteia) and continuing in the direction of Cordoba, he passed near an island (Isla Verde) in which he left his young slave, Umm Hakim, with some of his warriors. "This island, since then, is known by the name of Yazira Umm Hakim".

Qartayyana ( Carteia)​​​​​​​

      There is no doubt that the founding act of the first Muslim city, erected on the Iberian Peninsula, Algeciras, was carried out in the summer of 712. Once Musà disembarked on the coast of Spain, in the place where Tariq had installed his camp and before leaving with his army inland to meet the Berber general in Toledo, he gathered all the flags of the Arab commanders, in an assembly that did not dissolve without first having indicated the foundational layout (tajtit), choosing it to build a mosque. In the opinion of Professor Pedro Chalmeta, the layout and foundation of a mosque, as the first action of Musà to set foot on Spanish soil, represents the founding act of al-Jazeera al-Jadra. That mosque was called the “Mosque of the Flags” in memory of that event and was still in use in the thirteenth century, when it is cited by several chroniclers of that time.

      The remains of the first Mosque, built in Spain, is inside the gardens of the Hotel Reina Cristina, in Algeciras:

Remains of the Mosque of the Flags​​​​​​​

      Talking about the Hotel Reina Cristina, from there you could have a good view of the Isla Verde (The Green Island).

The Hotel Cristina​​​​​​​

The Green Island joined to the port seen from the Hotel Cristina​​​​​​​

Another view of the Green Island joined to the port

      Within that Island, there was the so-called "Isla Verde Fort". The Isla Verde fort is a military installation, designed by the engineer Juan de Subreville and built in 1734 on the Isla Verde, in front of the Old Town of Algeciras and the mouth of the Miel River, an engineer who also designed the reconstruction of the Castle of Valencia of Alcántara, in the western part of the province of Cáceres. The Fort was built on the occasion of sieges to the city of Gibraltar and expanded over the centuries until the construction of two machine gun bunkers, in 1942. It is currently inside the Port of Algeciras, which has been very wait for new archaeological interventions, that put it in value.

The Fort Isla Verde with the lighthouse​​​​​​​

Some people come from the Fuerte Isla Verde​​​​​​​

The old latrines​​​​​​​

The new plane with Isla Verde in 1964​​​​​​​

Aerial view of The Fort Isla Verde recently​​​​​​​

House with lighthouse inside the Fort Isla Verde

The lighthouse up close​​​​​​​

      Next to the lighthouse you can see a field where there was a military barracks formerly:

      After the British conquest of the city of Gibraltar, in 1704, and the successive attempts to recover the stronghold by Spanish troops, the military authorities of this country became aware of the fragility of the coast surrounding the Bay of Algeciras. One of the main points of support for the defensive system, that began to be created at the beginning of the 18th century, was the Isla Verde of Algeciras, a small island of elongated shape and parallel to the coast, opposite the city and the port located at the mouth of the Miel River. Although perhaps the first elements of artillery were emplaced in the place, in the siege of Gibraltar of 1704 and already in the siege of 1727 there was a provisional battery, was not until 1734 when they began the works of fortification of the islet. The project of the fort was the work of the military engineer, Juan de Subreville, based on previous projects by Jorge Próspero de Verboom.

Project by Juan de Subreville​​​​​​​

      Fort Isla Verde had 3 batteries: A "Batería de Algeciras" (called "de San Cristobal" from 1745), was heading north, controlling ships that could attack the city's Nueva Villa, twenty metres long with capacity for 4 or 5 cannons.

      In second place: the main Battery (of "Santa Barbara", from 1745), in southeast direction, its cannons went towards the entrance of the bay and could cross fire with the battery of the Fort of San Garcia, forty metres and thirteen cannons of heavy artillery.

      Battery of San Garcia (San Francisco since 1745), aiming southwest, towards the battery of Punta Rodeo with which crossed fire, the smaller of the three, just 9 metres and two cannons.

Plan of Fuerte Isla Verde​​​​​​​

      The batteries were located on the edges of the island, and were joined together by a wall with scarp that prevented the landing. In the interior of the island, next to the battery of Algeciras, was the main barracks with a capacity for 70 men and three spaces: dormitories for officers, soldiers and food stores; between the main and San Garcia batteries, the barracks for artillerymen and the artillery storehouse were located. This building was separated from the main battery by a dyke, a structure that prevented projectiles, that did not hit the battery from, reaching the construction site; finally, in the centre of the island was the powder keg, a building with thick walls that prevented a projectile from detonating the weapons deposited there.

The Fort Isla Verde with the three types of battery​​​​​​​

On the left side the entrance of the Fort Isla Verde​​​​​​​

A piece of the wall with embrasure for cannon​​​​​​​

Another part of the wall with three embrasures for cannons​​​​​​​

Two cannons and the lighthouse in the background​​​​​​​

One cannon and the lighthouse​​​​​​​

The three same cannons from another angle​​​​​​​

The view of a cannon from the embrasure

Another view of two cannons ant the lighthouse​​​​​​​

      In the north of the island, in the area at sea level next to the door, a provisional battery was built, in the 1745 reform, that was called San Joaquin, with the so-called Beach Guard Corps. Years later, in 1756 the barracks of the fort are conditioned to function as a prison for state prisoners. In 1779, during the Great Siege of Gibraltar, its artillery crew was enlarged, while a shipyard was built on the coast closest to the island and protected by the batteries where the floating batteries designed by engineer Arçon were built.

The Isla Verde beside the port

The port of Algeciras and the North of Africa in the background

      The main military action, in which the Isla Verde fort would participate, was the so-called Battle of Algeciras in 1801, between the fleet of the First French Republic and that of the United Kingdom. On June 13 of that year, the French squadron, pursued by the British, took refuge in the bay of Algeciras under the protection of the batteries of Santiago, San García and Isla Verde. The development of this battle made that the fort was taking more and more importance, in the same acting, in the last moments like vanguard of the defending troops. The damage caused by the cannons of the island caused that James Saumarez, commander of the British fleet, ordered the disembarkation in the Green Island to take the fort. Several boats approached under mortar and rifle fire and some soldiers managed to disembark on the beach under the fortification wall. They can not, however, take the fort and the defending soldiers kill a large number of them and sink several boats until Saumarez orders the retreat.

      In 1810, on the occasion of some reforms, a triangular entrance structure was built in the north of the island, together with the provisional battery. With the advance of the century, the facilities were in need of continuous repairs that were not carried out, so in 1825 two canvases of the wall fell as a result of a strong storm. In 1841, the main battery was extended with new embrasures in the north of the battery and, in the following years, three more were opened next to it along with a post for riflemen. Around 1845, the wall was complete after the repairs undertaken and its closure where the initial project did not contemplate. In 1863, the Isla Verde Lighthouse was built, a project by Jaime Font, inside the fort on the San García battery, that was rendered useless.

Lighthouse of Isla Verde on the battery of San Garcia​​​​​​​

      At the beginning of the 20th century, it was considered that the fortification ceased to have military use. The growth of the new port of Algeciras gave a new use to the area after in 1919 the facilities were ceded to the Board of Works of the port. In this way, its main structures were partially destroyed and integrated into the port with the construction of a shipyard attached to the south wall and several internal units for repairs. In 1939 within the Defensive Plan of the Campo de Gibraltar, a fortification project undertaken in the area of the Strait to avoid a possible allied invasion, during the Second World War, two bunkers were built, attached to the wall to the north and south and a cylindrical structure designed to deploy an anti-aircraft machine gun. Beside these bunkers, outside the wall, a troop barracks was built, which was occupied by 40 soldiers for a few years.

The new piece of port beside the Isla Verde​​​​​​​

The new shipyard of Algeciras and the lighthouse of Isla Verde in the background

An anti-aircraft machine gun similar than this one​​​​​​​

      Over the years and the expansion of the Port of Algeciras lost the insular character of Isla Verde in the 60s. The fort was relegated to warehouse and repair area, carrying out numerous works that degraded and destroyed part of the previous structures. The original buildings were demolished and the central esplanade was filled. In 2006, various archaeological interventions by the Port Authority of the Bay of Algeciras discovered part of the constructions. The structures attached to the wall and the constructions of the 20th century were demolished. It acted on the northern embrasure of the main battery, recovering the original pavement formed with tiles from Tarifa, the floor of the barracks and the south wall that had been masked with the sheds of the attached shipyards. One of the bunkers and the adjacent antiaircraft artillery structure were also recovered.

      Although, at present, the fort can be visited, it is not signposted and it is difficult to interpret its remains. For this reason, after the first archaeological intervention, carried out in 2006, and those that are proposed in the following years, the fortification is to be valued in order to add it to the cultural facilities of the city.

      In any case, although the original Green Island has been lost and its surroundings have lost much charm, for such a large and functional extension, I believe that Algeciras still has one of the most beautiful bays in Spain, and we have to feel proud. I hope that our city continues to grow, in positive, and lose the bad reputation that it is having, because of drug trafficking.

A great bay

      I hope that you will like this article and hope that you can visit our city.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Fair of the Fine Sands in the Southwest of Spain
21 May 2019

      Last Friday, May 10, 2019, the IV Fair of Fine Sands was held in Sanlúcar de Barrameda (Cádiz, Costa de la Luz, Southwest of Spain).

Aerial view of Sanlúcar

Sanlúcar up close​​​​​​​

      This has been the poster announcing the Fair, this year:

The Poster​​​​​​​

      The Mayor of Sanlúcar, Víctor Mora, presented the fourth edition of the Fair of Our Fine Sands Products, which is dedicated to the Circumnavigation, this year. Mora said that "it is a pleasure to be able to share with all this IV Fair of Fine Sands, a mark that we have managed to make in Sanlúcar, from the City Council, both the cooperatives and the Montilla Market, to give the value it deserves to the products of this land".

      The event took place at the headquarters of the women's association Ager Veneriensis de Bonanza, where Víctor Mora stated that "it is a brand that is synonymous with quality, with some great products and also generating employment in the city, because do not forget that agriculture in Sanlúcar generates a lot of employment", highlighting the increasingly important role of women, in the agricultural field.

      This was the presentation of the Poster, in the Association "Ager Veneriensis":

The Mayor in the Ager Veneriensis Association

The Mayor watching the poster of the Fair

      The Mayor stressed that the secret of the quality of the products of the area, in addition to the sand, is none other than water, "so during these years, to give them guarantee and safety we have contributed to the construction of the new raft ".

Project for Improvement and Modernization of the Irrigation Community Colonia Agrícola Monte Algaida

      Mora continued explaining that "we want to continue collaborating, to continue betting on the products of Sanlúcar", and took the opportunity to invite all bars, restaurants and markets to buy products from the area, because, in addition to giving quality, it is guaranteed that the employment stays in the city.

      The Mayor of Sanlúcar was calling on everyone to go last May 10, to the Plaza del Cabildo, to enjoy the products, see auctions and enjoy the daily life of a cooperative and, of course, taste great dishes by the hand of Ager Veneriensis.

Plaza del Cabildo​​​​​​​

The Mayor with the waitresses of Age Veneriensis​​​​​​​

      Peppers, potatoes, cucumbers or melons all of them, always from the fine sands of Sanlúcar, once again the city council, in collaboration with the cooperatives of Sanlúcar, have exhibited the products grown in the lands of the Algaida.

A stand with vegetables in the Plaza del Cabildo​​​​​​​

Another fruit and vegetable stand but on the ground​​​​​​​

The same fruit and vegetable up close​​​​​​​

Another stand​​​​​​​

More fruit and vegetable

Another view of the same stand​​​​​​​

      One of the Cooperatives, which collaborates in the Fair of Fine Sands, is the Cooperative "Virgen del Rocío".

      The two basic crops of this Cooperative are carrots and, above all, potatoes, although white courgettes, Italian peppers and goat horn, pumpkins, turnips, leeks, cauliflower, cabbage, sweet potatoes are also grown ....

Many potatoes in the Cooperative Virgen del Rocio​​​​​​​

Carrots in the Cooperative Virgen del Rocio​​​​​​​

Another vegetables in the Cooperative​​​​​​​

      The potato of Sanlucar is characterised by its regular and elongated shape, because when growing in fine sand the terrain allows the tuber to grow freely. Its colour is white, unlike the one cultivated in albariza of yellow or reddish colour. Its skin is fine and that of the new potato comes off with the fingers. In greengrocers, we can recognise them because, unlike others, it is covered with sand and not with soil.

Picking potatoes grown in sand​​​​​​​

The potatoes from Sanlúcar​​​​​​​

      Currently, the potato of this area is marked with a special badge to avoid fraud: "Fine sands". This brand only has potatoes grown in Bonanza and Algaida, the only ones raised in sand.

The brand Las Arenas Finas

      The seeds come from the Netherlands and, to sow them, they are cut into pieces. The potatoes produced here are not used to prevent genetic degeneration of the plant.

      The potatoes are sold freshly picked (new), from November to March, the so-called "winter potatoes" or seasonal or are stored in cameras (old). New potatoes are better for frying and have more water and less concentration of starch. The old ones are normally used for stews and are sweeter because the starch is progressively transformed into glucose.

      Mr. Antonio Lara, vice president of the cooperative explains that there are currently 400 members and that there are three auctions a week: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. The price is set by the auctioneer at the top and goes down until they are bought.

Auction of papas (potatoes) in Sanlucar​​​​​​​

      Many people tasted great dishes, made with vegetables from Sanlúcar, by the hand of Ager Veneriensis.

Dishes prepared by the Ager Veneriensis​​​​​​​

      Most of the sales remain in the province of Cádiz.

      Well, I hope that you will like this article.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Christmas dish in the southeast of Spain
11 May 2019

      Today I would like to talk to you about a typical dish on Christmas Eve, in Almeria (Southeast of Spain).

      To start this recipe, you have to know that these are the Ingredients (for 4 people): 1 Kg of potatoes. 1 onion. 2 cloves of garlic. 2 dried peppers. A pinch of ground cumin. Extra virgin olive oil. Sherry vinegar to taste. 200 gr of desalted cod.

      First of all, you have to peel the potatoes and onion and cut them into cubes.

The potatoes

The onion

      Now you have to put the potatoes and onion, in a pot, covered by water with salt, and cook them for 20 minutes, then drain them. While the potatoes and onions are cooking, put in a pan, oil to heat and fry the dried peppers and garlic cloves, peeled, without taking them much colour.

The dried peppers

The peeled garlic

      When you have everything ready, put the onion, the boiled potatoes, the dried peppers and the fried garlic, in a mortar to grind.

A mortar to grind

Crushing the potatoes with dried peppers and garlic

      Grind everything well, until you get a thick purée. Then, you add a little water from the cooking of the potatoes and, without stopping to move, you are throwing oil, in thread, as if it were a mayonnaise.

Extra Virgin Oil

Throwing oil

      Once this is the desired texture, add the cumin and vinegar, rectify the salt if necessary and keep it in the fridge, at least two hours. ​

Cumin

Vinegar from Jerez

      With a ham knife, very sharp, take the piece of cod and cut it into thin slices. Discard the skin.

Thin slices

      And this must be the result: in four soup bowls, you put the "ajo colorao" cold, place several layers of cod on top, and sprinkle with olive oil.

Ajo colorao in a soup bowl

      Well, I hope that you will like this recipe and hope that you will try to cook it.

      Untill my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Another spanish saying and proverb 83
04 May 2019

      Today I would like to tell you about a very popular saying in Spain: "Cuando el rio suena, agua lleva". This would literally be like that in English: "When the river sounds, it carries water". But in English it really says: "Where there's smoke, there's fire".

Waterfall in the river Belelle (Neda, A Coruña)

      In a figurative sense, it is a warning with which it is implied that something patent claims attention and should not be overlooked.

      Well, I hope that you will like this saying.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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A small village in the centre of Spain with a great future
01 May 2019

      A month ago, more or less, I watched on Antena 3 TV, an important news about a very small Spanish village: "A village of Guadalajara, with 25 inhabitants, is growing thanks to a nearby fish farm". That village is named Valderrebollo.

Aerial view of Valderrebollo

Valderrebollo close up

The Town Hall of Valderrebollo

Some houses of Valderrebollo

Main square of Valderrebollo​​​​​​​

Hermitage of la Virgen del Prado in Valderrebollo​​​​​​​

      Other villages near Valderrebollo are: Barriopedro, Masegoso de Tajuña, Cogollor, Yela, Olmeda del Extremo, Moranchel, Hontanares, Alaminos, Solanillos del Extremo and Las Inviernas.

      As I said at the beginning, Valderrebollo is a little bit inhabited village, but it is growing a lot thanks to a fish farm, near the village, managed by the company NATURIX.

Logo of NATURIX​​​​​​​

Facilities of NATURIX​​​​​​​

Facilities of Naturix close up​​​​​​​

      But Naturix also has an artificial lake, so that whoever wants to can learn to fish or to fish trout to take home  --you can take 10 trouts from 22 Euros. But you can also have a monitor, to learn how to fish, for 5.95 Euros per person. If you are interested, you can go to CM-2011, Km 31, in Valderrebollo, telephone number: +34 949 098 108--.

The artificial lake of Naturix​​​​​​​

How to arrive to Naturix​​​​​​​

People learning to fish​​​​​​​

More people fishing​​​​​​​

A man fishing on the lake​​​​​​​

      But children can also learn to fish.

Some children from a school visiting Naturix

The same children going to the lake of Naturix

Several children learning to fish​​​​​​​

A supervisor teaching a child to fish​​​​​​​

Another child learning to fish​​​​​​​

Two children fishing from a small boat​​​​​​​

The same girl fishing from the shore of the lake

The same boy fishing from the shore of the lake​​​​​​​

A trout

  Next to the lake you can rest and enjoy with your family on a bar.


Bar-Restaurant of  Naturix

Some people resting on the bar​​​​​​​

      This is a room, in the factory of Naturix, where the trouts are prepared to be sold.

A room in the factory​​​​​​​

A trout packed in a vacuum​​​​​​​

Packaged smoked trout fillets​​​​​​​

      But Naturix also makes trout burgers:

Trout burger​​​​​​​

      In 2012, Naturix received one of the Red Emprende Awards, from the Biodiversity Foundation, in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

      The Technical Director and Manager of the company, Curro Villarreal, picked up the recognition of hands of the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Miguel Arias Cañete, and received his congratulations for his entrepreneurial journey from care to the environment.

Curro Villarreal with the Minister Arias Caññete

The Ex-Minister  Arias Cañete​​​​​​​

      Naturix is a project dedicated to rehabilitating the rural world from the “ecological farming”, trying to link primary activity with leisure and rest through sport fishing or catering.

      This Naturix project has given the opportunity to several people, who were unemployed. This is the case of Manuel Antonio, who lived in Cádiz, without a job, and went to Guadalajara, to form a life and take root.

      Other people come from Peru, from Ecuador. They do not mind living in an unpopulated area. They want work. "Many times we are recycling people over 45 years, who are perfectly valid for hotel or fishing. They also like the rural world a lot and it is something that must be taken into account", says one of the people in charge of the place.

      In Spain, there are about 100 abandoned fish farms like this one. The idea is to recover them, because they are close to villages like this, where you can recover life in the area as is being done with this project.

      Well, I hope that you will like this article and hope that you can visit the facilities of Naturix sometime.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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Spanish scientists make an important discovery related to lung cancer
20 April 2019

      A group of scientists from the Cima (Center for Applied Medical Research) of the University of Navarra and the University Clinic of Navarra (CUN) have identified a group of proteins that predict the prognosis of patients with the two most common types of lung cancer: adenocarcinoma and carcinoma flaky lung. This detection could improve treatments, in these patients, to predict a relapse of this disease because until now, there is no marker, in practise, that indicates which patients are at higher risk of suffering from the disease over time, after having passed by operating rooms, according to Cima.

 Spanish scientists of the Cima

Cima

Clinica Universidad de Navarraa​​​​​​​

      In a study of 557 patients, the researchers analysed the tumor samples of 239 patients with adenocarcinoma and 318 with squamous cell carcinoma, from the Clínica Universidad de Navarra, MD Anderson in Houston (United States) and the multicenter series of the CIBER of Respiratory Diseases (CIBERES) and of the international clinical trial NATCH.

A scientist analysing carcinomas​​​​​​​

Adenocarcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma​​​​​​​

      According to the senior researcher of the Program of Solid Tumors of the University of Navarra and head of the CIBER group of Oncology (CIBERONC), Dr. Luis Montuenga, the objective of this study is "to detect those patients with lung cancer, who are at greater risk of relapse after surgery. For which, we have assessed the expression of two groups of proteins (three in adenocarcinoma and five in squamous carcinoma)".

Luis Montuenga​​​​​​​

      The results obtained confirm that when high amounts of these proteins are detected together, there is a worse prognosis of patients with lung cancer. "These data are especially useful to guide a personalised follow-up, so that clinical specialists can consider starting a treatment of complementary chemotherapy, after surgery, in surgical patients at higher risk, although they are in initial stages".

      Also, in adenocarcinoma samples, preliminary data suggest that these groups of proteins could predict the response of patients to chemotherapy. From now on, the researchers will confirm the results by applying this "molecular signature", in international multicenter series. These results have been published in two scientific journals of international reference in the field of respiratory medicine and pathology, in “Thorax” and “Journal of Pathology”, respectively.

       The method used, as a quantification system, is very simple, according to Cima, and could accelerate its clinical practise inplantation. According to Montuenga, "is based on immunolocalization of proteins, a technique that is carried out in virtually all pathology laboratories in the world. Our work now focuses on finding tools to optimize detection technology and start up systems automated analyses, that allow the robust quantification of these proteins".

      Lung cancer is the most common type of tumor, in the world. Specifically, each year around 30,000 new cases are detected, in Spain. However, less than 20% of patients, with lung cancer, are diagnosed in the early stages, when they can be treated by surgery. In addition, after surgery, a percentage of these patients, even those with the earliest stage, may relapse.

Lung cancer​​​​​​​

      Well, I hope that you will like this hopeful news.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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The Cherry Tree Festival in Western Spain
14 April 2019

      Every year, in Extremadura  --and specifically in the Valle del Jerte, located in the province of Cáceres--,  the "Fiesta de Cerezo en Flor" is celebrated. There are several villages that make up the Valle del Jerte and, every year, one of them is chosen for the inauguration of the Fiesta, that has a National Touristic Interest, since 2010.

A village of the Valle del Jerte

      Every year, the trees wait for these dates (end of March or beginning of April), to offer the colourful spectacle of the flowering, with a colour that goes from white to pink.

A white cherry tree

Another white cherry tree close up

Some flowers of white cherry tree

Another white flowers and a mountain with snow on the background​​​​​​​

A pink cherry tree​​​​​​​

Another view of the Valle del Jerte​​​​​​​

The same mountain close up​​​​​​​

      You can go by car on that road to the Valle del Jerte. Valle del Jerte is in the province of Cáceres, less than 3 hours from Madrid. If you want to go there, from Madrid, you can take the N-110 road, which goes down from Ávila and enters Extremadura through the Port of Tornavacas to cross the valley and reach the historic Plasencia.

A road to the Valle del Jerte​​​​​​​

The reservoir of Plasencia​​​​​​​

A map of the Valle del Jerte​​​​​​​

      But you can also walk between trees, after leaven your car:

Another path between trees​​​​​​​

And another path more

      In those weeks, since the end of March, you can enjoy the spectacle offered by that kind of "carpet of white flowers", which is formed by around a million and a half cherry trees, whose flowers are gradually opening, from the most low to the highest areas, on the mountains.

A mountain covered by a carpet of white flowers​​​​​​​

The road from Madrid to Plasencia​​​​​​​

      The other route from Madrid is by the N-5, and when you get to Navalmoral de la Mata you turn to Plasencia.

      Which date is better for you to see blossom cherry trees, in the Valle del Jerte?. Flowering usually occurs between the end of March and the beginning of April, but it depends on the weather  --for example, in 2016 and 2018, the flowering was delayed until the beginning of April--. This year, as the weather has been more benign, on March 12 some flowers began to open.

White flowers open​​​​​​​

      To the south, take the roads that run along both slopes of the valley passing through the villages of Valdastillas, Piornal, Barrado, Cabrero, Casas del Castañar, El Torno and Rebollar. This route will take you through the cherry plantations that extend along the slopes of the valley, between the different villages.

      In addition, in the villages of the valley and during these dates, the “Spring Festival and the Cherry Blossom” are celebrated, with various cultural, gastronomic and hiking activities. This year, the Inauguration of the “Spring and Cherry Blossom Festival” took place in the village Casas del Castañar and the Closing in the Torno, with various activities: traditions, sports, music, folklore, theater and gastronomy. And this is the poster, made by Mario Moreno Iglesias, of El Piornal.

The Poster of the Spring and cherry Blossom Festival 2019​​​​​​​

A general view of Casas del Castañar​​​​​​​

Another view of Casas del Castañar​​​​​​​

Plaza Mayor in Casas del Castañar​​​​​​​

Some houses in Casas del Castañar​​​​​​​

A rural house in Casas del Castañar​​​​​​​

The church San Juan Bautista in Casas del Castañar​​​​​​​

      As I said before, this year, the Closing of the Cherry Blossom Festival took place in El Torno.

A general view of El Torno​​​​​​​

El Torno close up

The Town Hall and the church Nuestra Señora de la Piedad in El Torno​​​​​​​

Apartments Grandmother Pastora in El Torno​​​​​​​

A kitchen in the apartments​​​​​​​

A bedroom in the apartments​​​​​​​

      You can also sign up for other activities, that take place throughout the year, such as an exclusive 4x4 tour through the “Garganta de los Infiernos”, especially interesting when the forests show their autumn colours.

A bridge with walkers on the Garganta de los Infiernos​​​​​​​

Another walkers through the Garganta de los Infiernos​​​​​​​

A pool of the Garganta de los Infiernos​​​​​​​

Another part of the river Jerte​​​​​​​

A waterfall of the river​​​​​​​

      Later, in the months of June and July, the "Cherry Fair" is celebrated, with activities of the "Cerecera".

Preparing boxes with cherries to sell

Showing some cherries​​​​​​​

Cherries prepared to be sold​​​​​​​

A stand with boxes full of cherries

Another stand with people testing some cherries

      Do you know what is the difference among Cherry and Picota cherry ?. Well, Picota cherry is a variety of cherry, with a pointed, thicker, larger and without scut.

      But if you prefer to go to the Valle del Jerte, at another time of the year, I advise you to go in the fall, because it is very beautiful and it is when the "Otoñada" festivals are celebrated, during which you can sign up for various activities , like hiking trails that allow you to explore the forests of this area, among an autumnal landscape.

A beautiful forest in Autumn​​​​​​​

      Well, I hope that sometime you can go to the Valle del Jerte, during the “Festival of Cheery Blossom” or another moment. If you go, please tell me your experience.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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