Posts tagged ‘Spain’

June 5, 2014

Happiness held is the seed, happiness shared is the flower!

And this time the SEED women sure shared happiness through their flowers!

St. Jordi is Barcelona’s and Catalonia’s version of Valentine’s Day and is a one day festival of romance, roses and books, all inspired by the legend of Saint George on 23rd April every year. On Saint Jordi’s Day the men in Barcelona and Catalonia give their partners a red rose, and in recent years a new Saint Jordi tradition is that the ladies give their men a book.  There are bookstalls and book markets all over Barcelona on Saint Jordi’s day. It is a very traditional festivity that combines culture and romanticism. Book and flower stalls are set up along the streets of Barcelona. This curious festival comes from a mixture of traditions from different periods. It coincides, on one hand, with the fact that Saint Jordi has been the patron saint of Catalonia since the 15th century; on the other hand, it comes from the famous legend of St George and the dragon and the old medieval tradition of visiting the Chapel of Saint Jordi in the Government Palace, where a rose fair used to take place. The legend of Saint George is that Saint Jordi slew a dragon to save a princess and then plucked a red rose for the princess from a rose bush, which had sprouted on the exact spot, where the dragon’s red blood had spilled.

SEED women making the roses in India

SEED women making the roses in India

At Mumbai Smiles, a huge order of 1845 roses (400 white and 1445 red) was received from Barcelona for Saint Jordi’s day. The order was received in mid-January and the roses were to be dispatched by 26th-27th of March. The task was to be completed by members of the SEED team.  SEED, a skills development program of Mumbai Smiles, aims to equip women and girls from low-income backgrounds with tangible, marketable skills that can help them earn a proper livelihood. For this purpose, women from nearby areas of Andheri (Mumbai) were enrolled and trained. In all, 14 beneficiaries were trained, of which 5 were our existing SEED beneficiaries and the rest 9 were newly enrolled into the process. It was heartening to see the beneficiaries work day and night to complete the order. The sale proceeds of the roses shall be distributed among the beneficiaries.


Jaume's books for sale

Jaume’s books for sale


Such training to the SEED beneficiaries ensures their socio economic sustainability and independence. In fact, Pravina Mohite, one of the beneficiaries, gave the following feedback after the training:

“I have undertaken the handicraft training in Mumbai Smiles. Now I get orders for craft flowers. Thanks to the SEED team of Mumbai Smiles for this training!!”

While the flowers were ready to be dispatched to Spain from the Mumbai Office, a whole range of activities was organized by their team members in Spain to sell these roses.

Sonrisas de Bombay volunteers in Spain

Sonrisas de Bombay volunteers in Spain

Some of them were:

  • Preparing stands and stalls at Barcelona and Tarragona where the Spain team members and volunteers sold these solidarity roses made by the beneficiaries of the SEED Project.
  • Jaume Sanllorente (Founder of Mumbai Smiles, and also a writer) was personally present at the stand in Barcelona to sign his latest book-The power of smiles for his fans. His books talk about his experience of starting this organization as also its various Projects.
  • Their new campaign ‘They smile, you can make it happen’ was also launched on the same day of Sant Jordi, the 23rd of April.


 Mumbai Smiles founder, Jaume with his fans on Sant Jordi

Mumbai Smiles founder, Jaume with his fans on Sant Jordi


The day came to an end with a huge success where about 1300 of those handmade roses were sold!

Mumbai Smiles continue to embark their journey towards creating a model of a just society, which is free of poverty and where people live with equal rights and opportunities.


The roses

The roses

Text and photos belong to Mumbai Smiles. 

To know more about Mumbai Smiles:

The Spanish website:

You are always welcome to visit these projects. All you have to do is write on: 

June 1, 2014

Soup? A small research for DLCS

On the picture below you see the first “Caldo Gallego” I have ever tried, a typical Galician soup which I ate in Spain.


Caldo Gallego by DLCS

Caldo Gallego by DLCS


Would you be so kind to do me a favor and post your favorite soup and the country the soup is from below in the comments?


Thank you!

May 14, 2014

1000 followers & Ball de bastons

I had never expected people to be interested in what I write here. I’m grateful to have so many readers (50.136 so far!) and followers (1003 by now!)!


To celebrate, here’s a short clip I made during one of the festivities in Badalona, Catalunya I attended last week. What you see is the traditional Catalonian Ball de bastons (Catalan pronunciation: [ˈbaʎ də βəsˈtons]stick dance) is the name of a ritual weapon dance spread throughout Europe and the rest of the Iberian area (cossiers in Majorca, Portuguese pauliteiros, Aragonese palotiau, Basque ezpatadantza and Spanish paloteo or troqueado) but mostly in Catalonia. English and Welsh Morris dances are well-known relatives to these traditions. The origins of dance are difficult to reference; first recorded mention dates to 1150, in a banquet of Count Berenguer IV) (with thanks to Wikipedia)


As promised a few posts ago HERE , I announced I would thank # 1000 with a personal gift.

Thank you Nikki Lehnert  (http://nikkilehnert.wordpress.comfor being my 1000th follower!!
I think you might be in the crazy city of Amsterdam now, could you let me know how long you are staying?
Perhaps I could meet you and give you my gift personally. Or show you one/some of my favorite hotspots and buy you a drink.


June 23, 2013

Interview Uxía Martinez Botana – The woman

The woman

How do your loved ones, your family, how do they deal with you being away all the time?

My family, not so good in the beginning, it was very difficult for them to accept it. I was 17 when I auditioned for Amsterdam and left Spain, but at the end they actually saw there is no way to change my mind, so they accepted it.

And besides your family, of course they take you as you are, but is it possible to have a love life?

Ah the love life… this is not easy. I won’t lie, it’s really not easy. It’s very difficult to find somebody that can understand that you are away so often and that can actually understand that in a way, playing is always going to come first and that sometimes you really want to be alone in “your box”.  There must be someone with such a strong connection with you that your lifestyle shouldn’t be able to affect your feelings, there must be a big understanding between each other. Something like that.

It does exist, but it’s rare to find. If you find it, you should really take care of it and not take it superficially because you are being really lucky, it’s a present of life.

The other option is of course to have a long list of lovers everywhere! Also possible of course! Haha!

So the playing comes first, can you describe your relationship with your instrument?

Hahaha…well, this one is one of those strong relationships, and a very difficult one as well. It is not an instrument that plays how I want it to be played, it plays how he wants to be played, so ..

…so it’s like a normal relationship…?

…yes…. I call him my husband because is the only one I have a total commitment with. I was playing on much less quality Double basses before this instrument fell in my hands. When I saw it, I had the opportunity to try it first; it took me two seconds to fell in love with the sound (with his soul). I didn’t stop until I got it for myself.

When it was mine already, and I started to spend a lot of time with him, I felt there was only space for him and not for me. I got tired of always being flexible and I stopped playing it after a while. I put it in a case in a corner in my place and went back to my old bass, the one I had before. It took me three months to return to him…   Now we are doing better, not perfect, but better and at least we didn’t divorce again.

But then it’s actually a love/hate relationship?

I don’t think it’s a love/hate relationship. This is an instrument from 1854 with very particular and peculiar characteristics. I was very young when it came to me, I didn´t want to understand him, I wanted him to understand me only, that’s what basically happened.

Really young? What is your age now?

I’m 24.

Music takes a lot of time of your life, would you ever give up playing for for example a family life?

I will not give away playing for anything or anyone. I just can’t imagine my life without playing. I think if I would stop playing I would stop being me. It’s something that is totally out of the question for me. I don´t really understand why should I give up playing for having a family.

I hope it’s possible to have both. Honestly, to stop or do less of what I´m doing now, I think it will drag me into a depression, I will stop feeling alive. As far as I know myself I have always preferred to feel fully alive than half dead.

Did playing ever cause you a break up or the end of a relationship?  Did you sacrifice someone you loved for the music?


So you spent quite some years in Holland already, Do you feel Dutch in something already? Did something change?

Well, when you move country there is always something that changes. It’s true, I left Spain, but Spain is not out of my soul or heart.

What else do you do besides playing music?

Well, I have a lot of hobbies. Now I enjoy swimming very much. I love dancing salsa and listening to rap music. One thing I really love is research of the Italian music of the 17th and beginning of the 18th century, not only the music, painting, writing and sculptures, I find the Italian 17th and 18th century amazing, I share this passion with a friend violin player who is really crazy about it as well. I also enjoy collecting antique books, this is something I do together with my father. I love Ducati’s but it’s not really possible to drive them in Holland.

Favourite place in this world?

Number one in my list is still the Eolie islands in Sicily; definitely a paradise not to be found.

Favourite person in this world?

Hahaha….. very smart question, well fitted. Haha..

Is there a difference between the woman and the musician? Are they two? Or only one?

It’s a difficult question… In my love relationships I always put them far away of my “musical part” because I like to have two different worlds, I find my balance like that. I do not like to feel that the other person can step into my ideas or my musical world.

The person who will be with me, he will know me as a woman but can´t really step in my other world. I have only one world for that person, but for myself I do like to live in two.  I don´t find it very comfortable if the person who is with me in a relationship, tries to step too much in the other world, because I would feel like I’d have no space… I do need a space, which is only mine, and no one goes in or out, except me.  I need that for my personal balance, I do like to feel alone in one of them.

I think in my case, I have two mental chips. One for the feelings of the person I love, which I never mix with my feelings for playing. I dislike it a lot when personal gets connected with profession, I do not even enjoy to talk much about the ideas of the concert or what I think or worries me professionally with the person I’m in a relationship with. I know there are people that can talk and share and discuss everything coming up in their mind with their boyfriend of girlfriend. I would like that the person I love can create one world “for us”  and the “musical world” is solely mine.

What inspires you? Do you have a musical idol that you follow or references?

What inspires me? Well, the people I work with, who can bring you a lot of new ideas and new references and inspiration and the love for music and my own instrument. I don´t really have what is called a “musical idol”. I think if you have what is called an “idol” it means that you want to imitate and follow this persons’ steps and manners in all ways and in everything he or she does, which I find limiting for your own development, but I do pick up ideas from other players.

What fulfils you the most in life?

Well of course playing is really a big part of it because when I play it really makes my soul totally full. To give a concert, gives me a full feeling. Sometimes it seems that I don’t need more, but I’m human as well, so yes I do need more, so… concerts, my family and my friends and the people that love me, and I love back. The Love for the people who love you and you love back can move you as fast as the energy of a concert.

 to be continued…

Uxía Martinez Botana

Uxía Martinez Botana – photo by Victor Gil Gazapo

June 23, 2013

Interview Uxía Martinez Botana – The beginnings

The beginnings…

Where did  the interest for classical music come from? Do you come from a musician family?

Well, in my case it’s kind of rare, because I don’t come from a musician family, but my parents were very much into the classical music world; they visited a lot to classical music concerts and events etc.… When I was little, and I watched people playing, it looked to me as something shiny and therefore extremely attractive to me as a kid, I wanted to do that too.

When I was five years old, I told my mother I wanted to stop going to my regular school and start attending the school of music, because I thought it would be much more fun. She answered me I was too little, and that it was not possible to stop attending the regular school. I´m a bit stubborn, so I thought my mother was not taking me serious, so I escaped my school twice and appeared home saying that I was not going back to school, unless they would enrol me in music school. For a year I insisted so much, that when I turned 6, right after my birthday, my parents took me to the conservatory entrance exam. That’s how my interest for music started.

Why did you start playing the bass? Why did you choose for the bass?

That’s quite a history, I think it kind of fell in my hands, but not with an easy beginning.

Back then it was a very different musical educative system than it is now. If you were accepted in the conservatory, you were getting inside following the order of the first letter of your first surname (In Spain you carry your mothers’ and your fathers’ last name, so you have two last names). I’m Martinez, so I was almost at the end of the list. I had in mind to choose cello, but when my turn came, all the places for cello were taken and the only instruments left were bassoon, horn and double bass. I was a bit disappointed, so I told the lady that was making the list that I didn´t want any of those instruments and that I would come back next year for cello. My parents didn’t want another year of me insisting on studying music, so, they took me apart and told me that I waited so long for going to a conservatory that now I should at least choose something, and later on if I wanted, I could change the instrument.

My mother said to me I should take horn, (she loves that instrument), my father didn’t say anything and went back with me to the lady that was making the list of instruments. At the back, when my mother was in the front, he whispered in my ear that if I was going to choose horn, I should keep in mind that soon my lips were going to get deformed, and later on I wouldn´t be able to have a boyfriend because he wouldn’t want to kiss me with lips like that… Hahaha… he said this because he didn’t want a wind instrument at home, and definitely he knew how to change my mind in less than a second, so I said double bass. I was convinced. I thought double bass would be just a little taller than cello and that I would not notice the difference so much. When we went for the first appointment with the teacher in the conservatory, they showed me the biggest size of double basses, a 4/4 size. I found the look of the instrument horrible, it was 4 heads taller than me, it looked ugly and sounded ugly, so I went out crying. I got angry with everybody and didn’t talk with my parents for some time. Later on, I was not so happy in the conservatory, the teacher was not really a bass teacher and we were not doing much. I became really unmotivated and my mother asked if I wanted to quit, I told her that I really wanted to play but that it was weird, at the conservatory we were not studying anything, I was really getting bored. So she decided to do research and look for a really good teacher and indeed she did find him. I started having double bass lessons with the one I consider my first teacher, Vitold Patsevich, ex principal of the Moscow Virtuosos Orchestra and I learned piano as well with his wife Tatiana. Definitely it was there where the game started for me.

At what age was your first solo concert?

When I was 6. We did these solo concerts with my Russian teacher every weekend, it was like a game. He could really make it look like a fun game, and not as something to be under pressure of. In the concert, suddenly I forgot one bar, and then I thought like “I forgot a bar, it has no sense to continue playing, because people will not understand it”, so I got really angry with myself that moment, I stopped playing, left the bass on the floor and left the stage hahahaha…  My teacher was laughing a lot. He still makes jokes about it.

That was the perfectionist in you

Yes… I guess.

Why did you come to Amsterdam?

Well, first of all its because in Spain, my teacher was advising me that if I wanted more, I should really leave, because I wouldn’t find it in Spain. For me Amsterdam was the best option because of the language. When I got here, I didn’t speak English very well and even less German (to go to Germany was the other option). Amsterdam was the most flexible option, the school here is really open, it’s very international, so I could have lessons with the teachers here, but also with other guest teachers from Berlin, so this was the perfect place…

And everything is in English here?

Yes, I liked that flexibility that they were offering that open-mindedness.

to be continued…

Uxía Martinez Botana

Uxía Martinez Botana

September 3, 2012

The 9th Cordoba African Film Festival launches a crowdfunding campaign

A friend asked me if I could help her out by showing my readers what she is busy with… Please read, pass on the info, support and visit the festival if you’re around!

9th Cordoba African Film Festival

9th Cordoba African Film Festival

The 9th Cordoba African Film Festival launches a crowdfunding campaign

The Cordoba African Film Festival announces the launching of an international crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, a website allowing people to become patrons of a cause by donating money in exchange for rewards.

“Despite a number of financial uncertainties, we have decided to take the risk and organize the coming edition”, says Mane Cisneros, FCAT Cordoba director. “The goal of our Indiegogo campaign is to raise 12 000 $ before the 30th of September”.

Over the past 8 editions, Cordoba African Film Festival has received support mainly from Spanish public institutions. Among them the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Casa Africa, the regional Government of Andalusia and the City Council of Cordoba. Today, barely a month away from the festival’s inauguration, several of the festival’s traditional donors have not yet confirmed their support. Only the City Council of Cordoba and the Andalusia regional government have so far confirmed a 160 000€ allocation. On another hand, the festival’s oldest and strongest donor, Casa Africa, has overnight withdrawn all support. This insecurity stems from the recent, sizable cutbacks in the Spanish government’s budget for culture (21% compared to last year) and development cooperation (72%).

Instead of cancelling the event, as has been the case with a great number of Spanish festivals, FCAT Cordoba organizers have decided to adapt to a budget half of last year’s. “Through crowdfunding we hope to cover part of the festival’s production and logistic expenses; other expected financial inflows will come from box office and merchandising sales”, says Mane Cisneros. “It only takes 5 minutes to make a donation through our campaign website; donors choose the amount they wish to donate, starting from 15€, and are then entitled to a variety of rewards which they can recover at the festival”. Beside the Indiegogo international platform, FCAT Cordoba has also launched a Spanish-speaking national campaign on La Tahona Cultural website in conformity with other Spanish endangered festivals.

We believe our action is humanly worthwhile. Please visit our crowdfunding campaign and support us!

Indiegogo’s international crowdfunding campaign for the 9th Cordoba African Film Festival:

“Despite a number of financial uncertainties, we have decided to take the risk and organize the coming edition”, says Mane Cisneros, FCAT Cordoba director. “The goal of our Indiegogo campaign is to raise 12 000 $ before the 30th of September”.


he 9th Cordoba African Film Festival will showcase around 100 feature films, documentaries, short films and animated films from the African continent, virtually all unscreened in Spain. The festival program will feature 10 Official Sections, including a retrospective on Algerian cinema and a pan Arabic film section. Other than cinema, internationally acclaimed dancers Germaine Acogny and Chloé Brûlé will perform, during the inauguration ceremony, a unique choreography drawing on the African roots of flamenco.

Over the years, the African Film Festival has made a name for itself by conveying filmmakers, film professionals and journalists from African, Mediterranean and Arab countries. Until the 8th edition the festival took place in Tarifa, Europe’s southern city, and was known as FCAT Tarifa. In 2011, around 6000 attendees and 200 film professionals gathered at the festival, most of the latter coming from the African continent. This year, FCAT Cordoba will feature the 4th Coproduction forum, in which filmmakers from African and Arab countries will pitch their scenarios in closed doors sessions so as to get Spanish and European production companies involved in their film projects. Moreover, seminars and scheduled debates will provide an insightful space for filmmakers, the public, students and media to gather and exchange.

In other words, FCAT Cordoba will provide what it is best known for: an informal yet professional meeting point to find viable ways to support the African film industry and its spread in Europe and in Spanish speaking countries. The festival’s mission, despite a substantial lack of funding, is to support, spread and promote filmmaking as well as other artistic expressions to effectively aid in the consolidation of the many African and Arab cultural identities.

Beyond the event, FCAT Cordoba’s aim to spread African films in Spanish-speaking countries continues through its program Cinenomada. Thanks to the Festival film archive, a collection including more than 700 African titles in original version subtitled in Spanish, Cinenomada has already travelled to 49 cities and has provided films in more than 220 cinema sessions and festivals in Spain. Since 2006, also in Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela, where access to African films is likely to be difficult, FCAT Cordoba has contributed to the ‘africanization’ of film festival programs. Last but not least, the festival’s yearly catalogues are an indispensable tool for event programmers all over the world.

Without FCAT Cordoba and its film archive, African films will be doomed to disappear from Spanish screens.

Film Program of the 9th Cordoba African Film Festival

Competitive Sections:

  • The African Dream: section on feature films made by African directors and / or produced by an African country in the last 2 years;
  • On the other side of the Strait: section dedicated to documentaries made by African directors and / or produced by an African country in the last 2 years;
  • Africa in Short: section dedicated to short films by African directors and / or produced by an African country in the last 2 years.

Non-competitive Sections:

  • AfroScope: panoramic section comprised of African and international films depicting contemporary Africa.
  • Animafrica: animated films section.
  • Africa in Rythm: films about African music and/or dance.
  • Panarabica: contemporary films produced in Arab countries outside Africa.

Retrospective and monographic sections:

  • Algeria, 50 Years of History and Cinema: a selection of the greatest Algerian film features.
  • Films and Cities: the African city through cinema.
  • Abderrahmane Sissako’s Little Film Library: 5 films selected by the Mauritanian award-winner filmmaker.

The 9th Cordoba African Film Festival takes place from13 – 20 October 2012.

For more info check:

or contact: ŸMarion Girard Cisneros ,ŸInternational Press Officer Ÿvia or Ÿ+34954272800

July 23, 2012

España/ Razones

I always loved Spain.

I love Spanish food, Spanish people, Spanish music and I would love to have lots of time when I visit Spain again, so I could drive around and visit all my Spanish friends and their homes; I’ve got so many places and people I would like to visit.. in Cuenca,  Madrid, Valladolid, La Coruña, Bilbao, Tarifa, Las Palmas…. perhaps I forgot a place?
*edit@ 24-07-2012: Barcelona, Seville…
*edit@ 25-07-2012: Almeria… (sorry people I forgot you!)

One wish when I do so is to see my favourite Spanish singer live; Bebe.

This one is for my Spanish teacher;
I., te voy a echar de menos… 

June 29, 2012

EURO 2012

Reblogged from Meri Gruevska, what a talented illustrator, love her style!!

This one is for The Posse:

Euro 2012 by

EURO 2012.

Check out more of her work: