The Endless Trench or Trincheras Infinitas is a film (now on Netflix starring Antonio de la Torre and Belén Cuesta) based on the stories of the ´topos´ - those that went into hiding at the end of the Spanish Civil War. These people hid for fear of reprisals from the Francoist forces who were carrying out a violent campaign against known Republicans that had resisted the Nationalist victors. In particular, those republicans that had made public their politics, such as Manuel Cortes, the Socialist mayor of Mijas (yes, the very same donkey-ride town on the Costa del Fun) who hid behind a constructed wall in his village house for over 30 years.
Cortes was just one of many, that survived - or died this way, knowing that the alternative was imprisonment, torture or even death. His story was first told back in the early 1970's when British writer, Ronald Fraser* interviewed Cortes for his book: In Hiding. First published in 1972, the book reveals his political background, his involvement with struggle for equality and education in Mijas and his later choice to flee the pueblo.
As Cortes leaves Mijas to head for Malaga, the coastal city is invaded by Italians, tanks and Franco's feared Moroccan troops that spare no-one as they plough through a defenceless coastal town. Malaga had hoped for Republican reinforcements, to protect them, they had awaited reinforcements that they were told were on there way, but none had come. There was little choice but to evacuate the city, and Cortes found himself part of that exodus along the coastal road that came to be known as the Carretera de Muerto.
The Story of the Malaga Exodus, and the horrific journey to Almeria and beyond is told in the audio and ebook
The Ambulance Man and the Spanish Civil War. (Read more here)
Cortes eventually finds himself back in Mijas at the end of the War, wishing to hand himself in to the authorities, but is convinced to go into hiding after learning that other Republicans had been shot after giving themselves up. And so beings his 30 years - In Hiding.
Finally, a general amnesty is issued by Franco in 1969 to commemorate the 30 years since the ending of the civil war. Cortes is able to finally step outside his house and register as part of the amnesty. Within a few years his story is told, recorded and printed as the book: In Hiding (1972) by Ronald Fraser.
(An excellent graphic documentary was made on the story of Manuel Cortes (30 Años de Oscurdiad) and shown at the film festival in Seville back in 2012. Fiona Flores Watson, describes the backdrop to the film here. )
La Trinchera Infinita (filmed in Higuera de la Sierra, north of Seville) is a compilation of accounts that depict the tragedies, the sufferings and the tension lived by the topos and those that supported - in secret - their concealed lives.
But don't think for a moment that this is just a story of a man hiding behind a wall. It is a story of lost freedom, loss of family unity and loss of identity too. But more importantly, it is a story of unbearable claustrophobia against a backdrop of lost hopes. Nominated for umpteen Goyas, Trinchera Infinita tells not of a single man in hiding, but that of a whole nation too.
*Ronald Fraser was a member of the editorial board of New Left Review. He also wrote Pueblo and Blood of Spain.
¡Cuánto tiempo sin verte!
Back in Andalusia after a while away and there is a lot to catch up on. More interesting is how I perceive the country now, after being away for a few years. All to be revealed, but this week back to work and the long awaited completion of the audio version of 1984 and the Spanish Civil War. Find out more about the book here and all the Forgotten Stories from Spain
At a time of great instability, with the Spanish Government clinging to power with fragile coalitions, Andalusia governed by a far right assembly, Britain sinking beneath the waves with the Brexit shambles and the USA, well reaching tipping point, it seems that the world needs to sit back for a moment. To step back and think things through, without concerning ourselves with winning elections or staying in power. Of course it won't happen, at least not in any productive way for that is how the system was set up, to patch the leaking holes and float on for a few more yards.
So in the absence of a true revolution....
The gazpachomOnk has been planning a return. At the moment, he's wrapped up in unpleasant stuff, but will soon reappear on the table top of tapas. Writing the complete SLOW ROUTE HOME novel is taking up a lot of time. But expect it out sometime late Spring 2019.
So we had this idea: To hold onto something your must learn to let it go.
Back in early 2015, my partner (Cherry) and I realised that to continue working from home we had to leave the home behind. To find the motivation and stimulation for online work, we realised that you have to get out and move about more. Otherwise, what happens? Work gets stagnant or worse, repetitive and you end up just repeating what else is being written. And that's not a good.
So we packed in our jobs in town, scribbled about the process, invested in a little mobile equipment (tripods, easels, gorilla stands, microphones, flask, a bigger portable hard drive and a travelling water bowl for the Hound. Then planned stage 1.
1: The Works
After 20+ years in Spain, and accompanied by a 15 year old Hound, we moved out of our home and into rented accommodation and began to turn our house into two flats. The idea was to 'Airbnb' part of the house as we travelled (to finance the accommodation we would need).
2: The Delays
Yawn: Same old story. What was intended as a 2 month reform, turned into a 6 month delay, finally completing at the end of last year. But talking about building works is rather dull, and people tend to get obsessive about listing minute and uninteresting changes to floor colours and window frames, so lets skip this part. We spent just one month back in the new place, preparing it for rental, before Hound mobility issues compelled us to move on. The Airbnb rental page was in place, 2016 had arrived and we had found a cheap flat in Portugal.
3. Portugal & Airbnb
Expect only the unexpected. Portugal was an inspiring, cultural, linguistic and climatic challenge. We produced a lot of good creative work and despite a few mishaps, the experience was very positive. We even got our first few Airbnb bookings. The future looked as though it was working out the way we had planned it. Ha ha. We should have known better. First off, news came of the changes that Andalucia were introducing to accommodation booking where an online financial transaction took place. These new regulations (targeting Airbnb) would necessitate yet more structural changes to the flat that were completely out of character for an old house in an old part of town. This was just the tip of the iceberg. Andalucia was insisting on a whole series of measure that would make it impossible for us to conform to the new regulations. The hotels celebrated. The digital revolution stepped back. Hosts began to desert the platform on mass. We joined them. But, we now needed a new plan.
4: Almeria and the new plan.
The hound meanwhile, was not well. He could no longer travel and needed to stay in one place. Fortunately, friends offered a house-sit in the dustiest province of Europe, and as the Hound wobbled about, we threw ourselves into work. I produced 15 new videos each month, podcasts, articles and some great new musical collaborations. But the rental issue remained unresolved. We clearly needed a solution that did not involve an online financial transaction, but one that would enable us to balance letting out our flat in exchange for moving around in other peoples homes. So we looked at home swapping.
House swapping was always a bit of an organisational challenge. Given the logistic difficulties in finding a swapper that wished to come to you the very week you wish to go to them, it was never going to an ideal solution for many people. But then, someone tacked on a clever little addition: points.
The point system works this way: someone stays in your flat one week (whilst you are about travelling) and you accumulate points for this. Those points can then be used to stay in someone else's flat (anywhere in the world).
Suddenly, we had a new option.
5: Month by Month
So now, its June. Next week we are moving on. We have registered with a site called Guest to Guest. It has more choice, more information and is far cheaper than some of the competition, that may look prettier but are far less comprehensive.
June also represents new changes and challenges. Britain votes on leaving the EU, and Spain votes on either staying exactly as it is - or - to change. Whatever the outcome of these elections, I don't wish to be passively watching from a fixed position. Another term under Rajoy will drive us away, and if the UK pull out of Europe then the call of lands further afield will be difficult to ignore.
Work meanwhile continues at a pace, new workshops each month, podcasts, new courses and - perhaps most significantly of all for us - the hound is no longer here. He made it this far, but was called away last week to attend to other more celestial matters.
So, where to go next month? Another province in Spain or further afield? How will the June elections affect this decision? Will Andalucia backtrack and rewrite the rules for Airbnb or will Guest to Guest prove to be the future for a new travelling generation? I wish I knew the answers, but then again, I don't. The fun is in seeing these answers unravel month by month.
You can follow my crazy production schedule, over at teapotmonk.com, check out the images on Instagram or Pinterest (follow - teapotmonk), listen to the podcasts or catch the videos on Youtube (teapotmonk)
This weekend marks an anniversary special, thats worth noting down: 79 years for the Republic (what republic!) - the one that the people voted for, that one! Since it was sadly overthrown in a military uprising, no-one has deemed to ask the population if they would like it back. Maybe one day....
Then we have the birthday of Durruti (who?) - ah well, you'll need to read this to find out.
Finally the mOnk too has been celebrating, not just his own birthdate, but those of family and friends around the world. So sit back, and for 15 seconds, tap your foot to the sound of a turning tide
Why Orwell is essential to understanding Spain today. More here - Forgotten Stories From Spain
Find out More about the ebook and audio
Forgotten Stories From Spain Book HERE
AND WATCH THE TORTILLA VIDEO HERE