The guitar


The classical Spanish guitar has six strings. Spanish poet, Garcia Lorca has written several poems on this beloved instrument. Here is Las Seis Cuerdas:

leaving oz
Las Seis Cuerdas, the six chords


La guitarra,
hace llorar a los sueños.
El sollozo de las almas perdidas,
se escapa por su boca redonda.
Y como la tarántula
teje una gran estrella
para cazar suspiros,
que flotan en su negro
aljibe de madera.
The guitar,
makes us cry for those dreams.
The sobbing of souls lost,
which escape his round mouth
And like a tarantula
weaves a beautiful canvas
to chase the sighs,
floating in the black
cistern of wood.
leaving oz
six string guitar

At the end of the world

Cape Finisterre


The traveler who gave this lonely spit of land that sticks out into the Atlantic off the northwest coast of Spain its name is lost to history.

Weary pilgrims in route on the Way of St. James through Spain often end at the glorious cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, but the adventurous continue on 50 miles to Cape Finisterre, meaning “end of the earth”. Once there, those who believe cleanliness is next to godliness burn their clothes, after a journey that takes 30 days, averaging 15 miles a day. Some just leave a memento behind – a flag, a hat, a cane, …

What would you leave behind if you came to the end of the  world?

Oz takes off his shoes to rest, heaves a sigh of relief, and leaves that annoying pebble that was in his shoe for the entire trip and a note tied with a ribbon:

Don’t put off till tomorrow what you could do today


“Don’t put off till tomorrow what you could do today.”


Cofachique, Cofachiqui, Coffechiqui

Odd and old place names on maps are soon forgotten once their usefulness is at an end.

Coffechiqui, (Cofachique) Kansas, 1856


Having in front of me a map of Indian Reservations in Kansas, 1856, I noticed somewhere near the center the place name “Coffechiqui.”


Cofachique, Map of Eastern Kansas 1856

The name is obviously Indian, but search as I might, I could not come up with an exact match. That is when I searched variation of the spelling and came up with Cofachique, Cofachiqui, Coffechiqui, and even Cofitachequi. They are all variations of the name whose origin is Georgia’s “Lady of Cofitachequi.” In 1540 she greeted Hernando DeSoto with pearls from the Savannah River. Her kindness was not returned. He kidnapped her.

What is in a name?

The Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter from Iola, Kansas gives credit to a distant namesake, an Osage Chief by the name Cofachique who helped early settlers.

The truth of this statement is obscure. Cofachique, the Indian chief, if he existed would have been in Kansas in 1856, a gap of more than three hundred years from DeSoto in Georgia. If the name passed down and tribal tales continued the memory, it is not likely that Chief Cofachique would accomodate white settlers since DeSoto kidnapped Georgia’s Cofitachequi.

Then again, stories often change in the retelling.

Cofachique was situated along the Neosho River near the present-day city of Iola. Iola wasn’t there at the time and the place, two log cabins and a couple of lean-tos built by James Barbee and family, was visited by the Reverend Cyrus R. Rice who stayed there for a summer in 1856 and called it “Cofachiqui”. This was a time before civic organizations took on the responsibility of welcoming one to “Cofachiqui” so who knows how Reverend Rice arrived at the spelling. But, the Reverend did give credit to an “Indian Princess” who we have to assume she was Georgia’s “Lady of Cofitachequi.”

Hemingway’s Postcard to Gertrude Stein from Spain


A postcard from Ernest Hemingway to Gertrude Stein dated 9 June 1924?. Was Ernest confused about the date or just living in the moment?

There is no copyright to this postcard that I know of. If so, tell me and I will try to make amends.

Anyway, it is the writing that interests me. I know of no one who has tried to reproduce the copy. As best as I can decipher, it goes like this:

… [something about the] illustrated life and death of Joselito. Tomorrow, six bulls of Martinez with Villalta, who is a very wonderful kid. Tall and stands out from the rest of them like a wolf. Think he’s going to be the new great one. Boxing looks paler and paler with (Bill Bird???)

Ernest Hemingway

Joselito (born Jose Gomez) began a famous rivalry in the bullring with Juan Belmonte in 1914.  It was a sharp competition which lasted until Joselito’s death in 1920. Read Death in the Afternoon and The Sun Also Rises. Nicanor Villalta made his debut in 1918. He never achieved the fame or recognition of the other two.

The boxing reference is vague But as every Hemingway fan knows, Ernest was an aficionado of boxing. In Paris he often took up boxing as a form of exercise.

Gertrude Stein may have been the inspiration for Hemingway to see a bullfight. Project Muse.  And,  Hemingway wrote about his first bullfighting experience in 1923.

Her Paris  address on the Rive Gauche was 27 Rue de Fleurs. Stein’s salon, which she shared with Alice B. Toklas, was the setting for many literary and artistic discussions in the Paris of the Twenties. It was Stein who coined the phrase The Lost Generation to describe Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Pound, and other American expatriates who fled to Europe after the First World War.  If you watched Woody Allen’s 2011 movie Midnight in Paris, then you got a good feel for the Hemingway and Stein relationship.


Temple of Diana

Merida was founded in 25 BC, with the name of Emerita Augusta (the victorious soldiers of the army of Augustus, who defeated Antony and founded the city) by order of Emperor Augustus, to protect a bridge over the Guardia river. The city became the capital of Lusitania province, and one of the most important cities in the Roman empire. Mérida preserves more important ancient Roman monuments than any other city in Spain.

Along the way from Caceres to Merida, Ozzie found many ancient Roman roads and bridges. Roman houses were built throughout the province in order to raise grain and other crops. Today the grain crops are gone, replaced by olives, almonds and fig trees. Cattle and lamb graze on the brown grass.

What is left of the Temple of Diana is a remnant discovered in the 16th century. The figure on the top of the column is Medusa. Not seen is the face of Zeus. The temple was much larger than what is now seen. The street and houses covering much of the space that the temple formerly covered.

Spain and Portugal – Before

Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, Ozzie is off to Spain and Portugal with a friend, who I shall call Barbarossa.

Northern Spain and Portugal
Battle plans

Sometimes the best thing about a trip is the anticipation. We dream of adventure, great food, interesting sites, and wonderful people. The reality does not always rise to the level of the expectations. Here’s hopin’ and dreamin’.

Planning is the key to victory, Napoleon remarked. But, he also said that once the battle is joined, all plans go out the window. Good advice since better opportunities will inevitably pop up and better choices will become apparent.

My rough plan is to circumnavigate the upper half of the Iberian Peninsula. Our flight arrives in Madrid Wednesday morning. Rent a car, an Opel with automatic transmission, and by pass Madrid for Toledo. Two days in Toledo, never enough, then west to Caceres and possibly Merida. This takes us through Extremadura, Spain’s hilly and rugged western countryside famous for its wooly sheep the Merino. Julius Cesar recruited his famous Tenth Legion from this area.

Read Notes from the Road – Extremadura.

Portugal, to the west, is the great unknown. Everyone, who goes, says that it is great, but few go and those who do, don’t return. Perhaps, this is due to its remoteness. Perhaps to the greatness of other European sites. Perhaps to the language barrier.

Sad to say, I think we will have to by pass Lisbon and concentrate on central and northern Portugal.

If you follow along with Fodor’s See It Portugal, you will find us on drive 7, the coastal drive from Alcobaca to Fatima (page 244).

North to Figuera da Foz, east to Combria and again east to the mountains near Manteigas.

Maybe Porto, then north into Spain.

Northwest Spain is Galicia.The primary destination is Santiago de Comopostela, the end of the pilgrimage route in the middle ages. Galicia has its own language. It is also mountainous. The coastline has many rias or inlets with small fishing villages. Ozzie went to Oregon this summer and traveled the coast. I imagine that the long stretches of beach seen in Oregon will be missing in Spain and Portugal. But, I imagine the same frosty cold water.

Usually, one drives the northern coast line of Spain, avoiding the mountains which are unspoilt and undeveloped.

The drive from Santiago to Santander is another terra incognito. The weather report today shows a high of 68 degrees and scattered showers. In land along the Camino Santiago is the city of Leon, famous for its cathedral. It also has a young student population, suggesting that, like Barcelona, things happen there.

After Satander, the decision is whether to go on to Basque country. The city of San Sebastian is the jumping off point, but so many Spaniards there do not give you the impression of Basque culture.

How we thread our way back to Madrid is unknown. A way will surely present itself.