Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Bridges of Madison County Ronda

That's me in the Andalucian town of Ronda which just happens to be the "sister city" to Chefchaouen, the Moroccan "blue" city which made my classic grey flannel look so - well - classically grey. Can you see the bridge behind me? It's a very famous bridge and, at 98 metres, a very high one too. Legend (or rumour - although I'm not sure what the difference is) has it that during the Spanish Civil War, communist sympathizers were thrown off of it into the chasm far far far below at the bottom of the El Tajo canyon. It's known as the New Bridge or the Puente Nuevo although it's not very nuevo since it was erected over 200 years ago.

This isn't the only bridge in Ronda: there are 2 others, the Roman Bridge and the Old Bridge (also known as the Arab Bridge). That's me again (below) in front of the Roman Bridge although, like the Puente Nuevo, that's a bit of a misnomer as it probably doesn't date that far back.

While I was having my photo taken I was swarmed by a group of backpackers who obviously recognized me from my former international fashion model days or in my current incarnation as a freelance Goodwill Ambassador. The mother of one of my bipedal attendants, who was travelling with us that day, told them that my photoshoot was for a forthcoming book, which is a bit of a lie. Worse yet, I'll never be able to travel again in anonymity!

So except for the seemingly endless autograph session and posing for photo after photo (I hope they won't be too disappointed when they realize that no book is forthcoming), we did have a fabulous day taking in the sites of Ronda. Having said that, I must confess that I wasn't prepared for the Lara Museum.

The Lara Museum is, in this bear's opinion, a bit odd. The museum, housed in the Palace of the Counts of the Conquest, showcases some 2,000 treasures - the fruits of a lifetime of collecting - of a private individual. Its clocks, weapons, scientific instruments, archaeological artifacts, knives and catapults, tauromachy (the "art" of bullfighting), and photographic & cinematic items are all conveniently arranged in separate rooms. Perhaps most bizarrely though, is that there are no bear rooms - I meant to ask why but I couldn't seem to find the appropriate personnel.

But it's the so-called exhibitions that really creeped me out (and as a bear I am not creeped out easily); namely the Spanish Inquisition exhibition with its instruments of torture and the witchcraft exhibition with its bottles of m
andrake root and wolfmen. No bearmen though. I've spoken about the unthinkable cruelties that Humankind has perpetrated against bulls and bears in this blog but perhaps it's necessary to remind ourselves that people can be just as cruel to other people. As a former international fashion model and freelance Goodwill Ambassador, it is my duty to ask that we all find a way to get along.

On weekends evenings, you can take in a Flamenco show on the same floor as the two exhibitions. I don't know how much I'd enjoy the dancing and singing knowing that a rack, an inquisition chair, a garrotte, a heretic's fork, thumb screws, and a Judas cradle - just to name a few of what's on display - are just a few feet behind me. But I suppose there is something of pain and torment in flamenco. I just hope they don't use any of those hanging cages or head crushers in the act.


H-Face said...

It certainly would give a new meaning to those caged go-go dancers!

Very informative post as always GB!

Grey Bear said...

Thanks HFace ... I admit that the torture room gave me nightmares, but so do Darfur and the flagrant human rights abuses perpetrated by the Chinese.

Anonymous said...

As usual, Grey Bear, your blog was very informative. You certainly have become a world traveller, haven't you. Where is your next photo-shoot?

Grey Bear said...

I'm thinking Gibraltar ... I bet my grey flannel would look amazing beside a red telephone box.