"It's not much but it's ours"

Sunday, September 10, 2006

OK, a history lesson and one with which I can identify a great deal.

Second sons had it really hard in Extremadura as they continue to do in life generally (feeling sorry for me yet?) Local laws meant that the first born inherited the lot, lock stock and bleeding barrel. The poor Segundo ( that’ll be me then) was left without a bean and, given the harsh nature of Extremadura, it is little wonder that so many of them went elsewhere to seek out their fortunes.

In many cases, they went to the new world and many of the conquistadors came from this region and were second sons. The most famous is, of course, Cortez. But, close behind is Pizarro who fought his way through Peru.

Trujillo ( which also gives its name to a city in Peru ) was the home of Pizarro and the tiny town which still boasts almost the same population as in his times ( around 11, 000 ) It is about 40 miles North of Merida heading back towards Madrid and, although only a short hop, the feeling is different again. Merida is very close to the Andalucian border and less than 100 miles from Seville. That can be seen in the architecture and in the people both of which bear all the hallmarks of the Moorish South. Not so Trujillo which is an Extremaduran town through and through.

Again, we were in one of the better hotels. The beautiful and central Isla Del Gallo which was a stone’s throw from the Plaza Meyor which is remarkable for its statue of Pizarro around which an amusing story has unfolded. It was originally designed as a gift to the people of Mexico by an American sculptor and is, in reality, a statue of Cortez. Unsurprisingly, the people of Mexico took a dim view to putting a statue of a mass murderer on view so declined the kind offer. At a loss what to do, the sculptor then offered it to Trujillo and claimed that it was Pizzaro. They were keen to accept this honour to their favoured son and have given it pride of place in the Mayor.

History lesson over.

So, a few minutes after arriving, we were off again with beer in our sights.

Once again, the old town remains fairly much intact and despite the heat which was again in the 40”s we traipsed up the hill and spent a happy hour looking around Pizarro’s house ( in truth not much to see apart from some prominently displayed pictures of Spanish people torturing savages before killing them a tradition they now observe but using small animals.) and the castle which had just been used for a local music festival.

Too hot though for an extended period of sightseeing and much better suited to standing at the bar of any number of joints while drinking a small beer. There is a theme here I am sure the more able readers are able to discern.

The evening began with another walk around the old town which began to take on a whole new character as the sun began to set and the sandstone used to construct the buildings began to take on an interesting glow.

We stopped at the Palacio Del Orrellanas, a fine mansion house that is now a convent. The guide books described it as one of the most beautiful in the town so we were disappointed to see the door shut when we arrived. In a moment that you would not believe to be unscripted in a TV travelogue, an elderly nun opened the door and beckoned us in saying that the courtyard was too beautiful for us to miss. She stood patiently by the door while we took in the splendour of the building. It was indeed very fine and this was one of those special moments that makes me realise while I love Spain so very much.

The square was just getting going as we strolled down to it from the hill. Gangs of small children were running and shrieking around the central fountain as their parents sat and had pre dinner drinks at one of the myriad bars. That sums up the Spanish attitude to parenting. Rather than enforcing a strict bedtime, they just let the kids run around until they are knackered and fit to drop and then they take them home.

Unusually for us, we decided to sit at one bar for our drinks rather than hop. We chose one at random and tried two small copa’s. One of the local red and one of the local white. Both acceptable if hardly award winning.

Then to supper. Another suggestion of my Madrileno chum, Asador Corral Del Rey where we took a seat in the courtyard. It is hard to go wrong with an asador in Spain. These Basque restaurants are always dependable and this one was no different if a little more expensive. Starters of Gazpacho and Ajo Blanco made a change to a whopping great plate of jamon. They were followed by a small slow roasted leg of lechel lamb for me and the same for HP but of kid. Not dissimilar although the kid had a slighty more gamey taste. Both gnawed down to the bone though.

By this time, the playful laughter of the children had begun to turn into a scene from Lord of The Flies as the little mites got over tired. So, our waitress went over and had a stern word with them. She scared the living bejesus out of me, so Heaven knows what they made of it but they scarpered pretty sharpish.

Wines were massively over priced for a reason we could not fathom. We chose a bottle of Artinda which, while standing up to the food was too expensive at EU29.

The bill with coffee and a copita of Orujo and Pacharan was EU120 which is becoming the new average price for our Spanish meals. Inflation, I guess.

Finally, before heading home, a stop back in the square were the local teenagers were busy figuring out the next stage of creating a new generation to have a cuccarucha ( a small cone ) of helado.

Tomorrow, Toledo, but Trujillo, for all its smallness, has provided a very welcome stop on the Extremadura trail.
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