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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 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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Hope for Spain that comes from abroad
06 April 2019

      These days, in Spain, people are talking about depopulation. In Spain, many villages are left without children and without young people, due to a lack of work and services.

      But there is a hope that is coming from abroad: some foreigners are buying small villages (small villages), to live and probably to rent some houses. It is a good possibility of business and I think the idea is very good.

      Three Dutch families have bought an abandoned village in Spain.

      And the same thing has been done by an Englishman (Neil Christie), who has bought a small village, in Asturias (Arruñada) –close to Galice--.

Neil Christie

Arruñada

      Neil Christie spent 45,000 Euros, when he bought the tiny village of Arruñada, in Asturias in 2006. The properties of Neil extend by two hectares of green meadows, leafy forests and four constructions in ruins. This British, who is on his way to 65 years old, left everything more than a decade ago to radically change his lifestyle.

      "It was not premeditated, my wife is a Spanish and English teacher and has worked in several exchange programs in Spain, I took advantage of some of her trips to take vacations, we had never been to the northwest of Spain, and one weekend we came to take a look at Galicia and Asturias, we thought it was a beautiful place to spend a longer holiday", Christie recalls.

      In the end, after a couple of years of reflection, Neil accepted an early retirement offer and moved with his wife and two daughters to Llan, a village of 16 inhabitants, which is five minutes from Taramundi, the population with more inhabitants of the area  --hardly 700-- and capital of the Asturian council that bears the same name. Carlisle, the English city where this television producer lived until then, had 75,000 inhabitants.

Taramundi on the left side of the map

      If you want to visit that area, you can sleep at some small hotels like “Casa Petronila”, 6 kilometres from Arruñada.

Hotel-Restaurant Casa Petronila

​​​​​​

The main dining-room of the Restaurant

One bed-room​​​​​​​

Another view from the bed-room​​​​​​​

A view from the small balcony

These are some data of the Hotel:

      Address:  Plaza del Campo, s/n. Taramundi.

      Telephone numbers:  Spain: 901 988502. International: + 44 20 3320 2609

      The change, for Neil, was important. "I did not need to quit my job, but it was a unique opportunity, I was in my fifties and I wanted to do something different", Neil said. Shortly after moving to Llan, Neil discovered the bargain of Arruñada, a small village of four demolished houses, that is an hour from Taramundi by car, or what is the same, in the middle of nowhere. "The main problem is the lack of basic infrastructure, such as communications, which are scarce", he says of his new life in the Asturian mountains. "The advantages are much greater: a different lifestyle, the price-quality ratio, the least pollution, silence and weather, which is wonderful, it is five or six positive points against a negative one, it seems like a good deal".

      For 45,000 euros, it seems cheap and timely. "It is, but you must also consider the taxes, the costs of the reforms and all the little details that come up over time", clarifies Neil, a man who can say he lives in his own village. He himself  --with the help of his wife, Rosa, when she has a party at the academy-- has built one of the four houses in ruins keeping the rustic look and original stone construction of the village. "This year it will be 99% finished and it is already habitable".

​​​​​​

Neil reforming his house​​​​​​​

Neil walking before his house​​​​​​​

      Neil calculates he has spent more than 150,000 euros, on the first reform, and now he has started to reform the second house of the small village. The merit is that the manpower has been a matter for him. "Money is not a bottomless pit, much of it has been achieved through the sale of our residence, in the UK. We do not have a house there anymore, I hope it is not a big mistake with this Brexit", he jokes. The two daughters of the couple have returned to their country of origin, to study at the university and find good job opportunities, and they think they will not return soon.

The second house

      "It has been very good for them to have grown up in Spain, since they have almost native Spanish as well as English, I do not think they are following our steps, because this area is not for young people, there is no nightlife or leisure, in Taramundi there is nothing of this", Neil recognises. Of course, they have relatively close to a cider house and some rural restaurant, so at least they can still go for a drink. While we talk on the phone, the call is cut a couple of times. "Sorry, I have moved half a metre, and the good sign is only here". I imagine that he will have returned to the corner of the calls.

      Of course, in his small village, there is no television or Internet. For not having, there is no telephone cable and, when they arrived, there were no electricity poles or drinking water. With the help of the council of the area, they have managed to get them light, water and have improved the access road, which can now use cars beyond the all-terrain. "They are interested in people coming to live, because they are peoples who are part of the heritage of the territory and, if there were no one, they would literally be a pile of stones and the character and uniqueness of the area would be lost".

      At first, friends and family thought they were crazy, but now they enjoy the small village of Neil every summer. In the end, by plane it does not take more than an hour and a half. Of course, later you have to climb the mountain and find among the trees the remote village of Christie, Arruñada.

      The real estate agency “Abandoned Villages”, which has an extensive catalog of villages and small villages, was the one who managed the paperwork and the rest of the bureaucracy to Neil. "Seven out of ten buyers are foreigners, there are many French, Belgians, Swiss, Americans and Mexicans. The Spaniards are leaving their money, more and more, although they invest more in land, fields and vineyards", explains Elvira Fafián, Manager of AldeasAbandonadas .com.

Elvira Fafián​​​​​​​

      Why do villages cost as cheap as the Neil one, is there a trick?, "There are no tricks, no, there are owners who cede the village for a few years, so that people live and rehabilitate it; there are owners who sell the village at low prices, because they pay more to pay taxes to the tax office", says Fafián, who distinguishes three profiles of buyers: Spanish families seeking to escape the big city, entrepreneurs who want to do business with cheap land and foreigners who are attracted by the climate and social conditions of the country.

      Selling a village is not easy, and many have been with the "for sale" sign for years. There is everything: from small villages, that a municipality gives free in exchange for their rehabilitation, to villages of 75 houses that cost between 400,000 and 500,000 euros. "Where it is cheaper is in the area of Galicia, where there are several opportunities for 30,000 euros.The prices depend more on whether they are remote areas or relatively close to large population centres. If they want to sell, the owners can fall 20%. -25% prices", the real estate says. Teruel, Soria, Burgos, Asturias and Galicia are the areas of Spain with more abandoned villages for sale.

      Cristóbal and Milagros, two Andalusians tired of the heat and the beach of Malaga, decided to follow the same path than Neil, a couple of years ago. In their case, they plan to open a rural tourism complex in the village of Xudán, near A Pontenova, Lugo. The five hamlets and the 14 hectares of land cost them "only" 60,000 euros.

      "We watched a program, on the TV, where the village was coming out, and we were just vacationing in the area, we went to see the village and they were ready, I always liked Galicia, because it is so hot here ...", Milagros explains. he works in the banking sector. "Here is always the same, heat and beach, there is no mountain or healthy life, we want to change the food, the environment, nature, everything, we are tired of being here".

      They have just begun the reforms and hope to move in summer, when the children finish school. "There are aid from the Xunta (of Galice) and the European Union, to promote the repopulation of rural territory", says Mili, who knows firsthand that banks do not give many loans for this type of adventure. However, she confirms what they tell us from the real estate agency. "The municipality collaborates and gives you a hand with water, electricity and other basic services, they are the first interested in recovering the life of the area".

      You have to work hard and have it clear, but being able to have a village, why settle for a small apartment, in the centre of a big town?. Think about it.

      I have thought that the Government of Spain should think about the possibility of creating employment, in abandoned villages, helping foreigners, who want to invest in those villages, to hire unemployed people, who want to rehabilitate those villages, restoring houses and creating companies of carpentry, plumbing, supermarkets, pharmacy, etc.

      So, I would also like to advise you to think about that possibility of coming to Spain, to buy a village  --even if it is very small--. If you are interested in this idea, you can go to the web: https://www.aldeasabandonadas.com/venta-de-aldeas/46-venta-de-aldeas-resto-espana.html   ,to see in which village you are interested.

      Well, I hope that you will like this article.

      Until my next post, kind regards,

Luis.

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