Thursday, April 20, 2006


We are now on our way to Valencia. The countryside is really similar to southwestern US, west Texas maybe. I suppose America covers so much territory that it is possible to find landscapes similar to most places we've been so far. Except here, there are hills and olive groves, probably much more like California than Texas. Little of both.
I haven't had a chance to talk about some of our trip and I'm sure most stories will come back to me when I have a chance to relax after the tour and process everything. Just now we are driving past a monastery from the 15th century. I now take back what I said about California. Perhaps the dirt is as old, but there will never be this monastery enclosed in a fortress-style wall on any US tour. Damn. It's incredible. Just sitting up on a hilltop of geometrically cut field plots of different colored greens and clay--some new crops, some freshly plowed, not yet baked--still dark with moisture.
Spain, as a country, is very tied to North Carolina's history, albeit almost completely indirectly, yet, nonetheless, importantly. The first thing that comes to mind is, just as American soil was becoming sought after, tensions between England and Spain delayed John White from returning to the NC Outer Banks with supplies, causing the intended Cittie of Raleigh to fail, or, at least to become the legendary Lost Colony (see previous entry "Manifesto" on this topic).
Our songs "Leaves Do Fall" and "Outnumbered" are imagined tales of the real life people of the Lost Colony. That's one connection NC has with Spain. The other indirect connection that comes to mind is Cortez. Where to begin? When I think of Cortez, I think of a rustic wooden doorway, and just beyond the doorway are bloody naked bodies, piled like meat, on top of which are women screaming, being raped at knifepoint. I see it happen from the other side of the door, from the bystander's point of view, and I feel the weight of the guilt of the survivor. This is how I read history books--in a series of awful images, which is why I read so few of them anymore. Back to Cortez. The other main thing I think of is the burning of the aviaries. One of the single most offensive maneuvers of warfare I've heard--to burn to the ground the beautiful aviaries full of all kinds of beautiful birds in order to burn to the ground a symbol of a people's pride in their native land. This is how the native South Americans took the Spanish language. With a death to their insides.
Our connection, then, is that the immigrants from South America are currently North Carolina's fastest growing community because of the attractive jobs in agriculture, among other things, and we have been lucky enough to get introduced to a new language and culture naturally. Not at all the way they came by it. But we share our English, in return, which is rich with it's own stories of defeat for native North Americans. That's the way I guess. Sometimes I wish I knew how to speak the language of my own Indian ancestry--not to communicate as that would be difficult, but just to know. And I wish I knew the love stories. Was there a Cherokee boy my English relative fell for? Or was it the other way around? I wonder if these kids fought with their parents--"She's not your color!" I can imagine they must have. The isolated mountain relatives of mine probably have all the stories I want to hear, but I have only met them once, at my grandfather's funeral and I was just a little girl then.

This landscape brings all this to mind for some reason. Everything is so tenuously connected for me--little ligaments of fact stringing together all kinds of information, some imagined, mostly imagined, triggered by sensory impressions.
Just back from the gas station stop and I realized something in there--this journal entry may seem anti-Spain. But all that stuff about Cortez seems impossible now that I look around at these olive groves and even this morning, in the city. Impossible. I can't imagine how an awful conquistador could have been borne of this country, but then, I'm an American so I can relate. Saskia said it best when, on the day of the war protest in Raleigh, she said, "I love my country, but I fear my government."

No comments: