We made it across Spain! Hurrah!
It took us two months, slowly, with some stops to visit old friends and with time to spend with new friends. Pedalling fast across the big, vast, empty spaces between.
Before we left we were full of hopes that this time our crossing would be easier. Yes, the days were longer, the weather was nicer, sometimes too nice in the 30*C.......
But still, again we were puzzled by the way things are discarded, abandoned, thrown away and the litternot just physical things, it felt like whole social networks, along with the villages and the people had been thrown away.
In many places the countryside has become nothing more than a giant factory of industrial uglyculture. Miles and miles of Tomato plantations around Miajades, with housing estates, lodgings for the workers plonked in the middle of them, sad little places, crumbling away. Then corn and wheat, the fruit trees, then something else, and always the olives. They are making a desert in Spain that's for sure, we saw it with our own eyes and then we read some facts which we shall share with you here:
About 40 per cent of agricultural soils around the globe is currently classified as degraded or seriously degraded. Seriously degraded means that 70% of the topsoil (the layer of soil in which plants grow) has already disappeared.
Every year, we lose 100 million acres of farmland and 24 billion tons of topsoil, and we create 15 million acres of new desert around the world.
UN says 12% of Europe at risk of turning into desert. Between 30-60% of Spain is at inmediate risk from desertification ,"desertification" is a process where land in arid, semi-dry areas becomes degraded, soil loses its productivity and vegetation thins because of human activities and/or prolonged droughts/floods.
Climate change will further deteriorate soil fertility through a loss of carbon from the soil
You can find an ongoing review of news on drought and desertification in Spain here:
And then we crossed Catalunya again. immediately the smell of pig and the sight of lorry loads of pigs on their way from (Holland ! and other countries )to the slaughterhouses ( in Sardinia !) accompanied us every day for nearly two weeks.
It causes us sadness cycling past these imprisoned pigs, hearing their squeels and seeing them beeing ferried around on motorways and it is terrifying to hear about the impacts intensive pig farming has on the people we met who live here. Some of them can't afford to rent land for growing food on, because landowners can ask higher rents from pig farms who need a place to dump the pig slurry... the ground water that comes from the many springs here in the foothills of the Pyrenees is poisonous pretty much everywhere you go. Here is a link for further reading on Industrial Factory farming, manure and pollution:
So once agian for us it raised the question of diet and many more questions about our whole system of food production...
On the positive front, what we can do...
Support small sustainable farms and help reduce the impact of industrial farming and promote the use of environmentally friendly farming methods!
We came across a quarterly publication which also has a good webpage with positive answers to a better way of farming. It is called Soberania Alimentaria
'una agricultura contra el cambio climatico' http://www.soberaniaalimentaria.info/
We spent a couple of weeks in Aragon. Here in the mountains we enjoyed ourselves, nature, the birds, the mountains are untouched and just awesome. There are many little national parks and plenty of clean spring water to fill up our bottles with, and little roads to cycle on undisturbed....
It happened to be the XVII Día Nacional de las Vías Verdes when we arrived in the region of Teruel, where a great Via Verde rolls down the mountains from Ojos Negros or thereabouts all the way to the sea just north of Valencia, well nearly all the way to the sea.
“Vive la Vía: ¡muévete!” http://viasverdes.com/
We did three shows in three nice little places, two of them old mills, El Molino Bajo in Monreal del Campo and the Molino de Burbaguena in Burbaguena and the third el hostal Allucant in Gallocanta. Here we spent a week, by the lagoon where the common cranes, Grus Grus, come for overwintering. We learned how to cook on a parabolic solar cooker and with solar ovens!
mmmmh! The most delicous, moist Cuban bread and butter pudding....
We made a mini Alternatiba event with solar cooking, our little show and a kamishibai story making workshop.
Javi our host on the pedals!
We went back to visit our friends del Ciclismo Ridiculismo in Zaragoza in La Cicleria.
Everybody was very occupied with the elections, so we didn't do much this time round. Only a little afternoon, upcycling rubbish from the bike workshop...big inner tube balls and little caterpillars
Everybody was begging for a change in the government. To the relief of everybody Podemos gained a lot of seats in Zaragoza. The spirits are up and there is hope again.
We met a few giants here and there and everywhere...
And in Belianes, Catalunya we had a chance encounter with La XXXI Marxa Ecològica i per la Pau
We just caught the end of the ride and were invited to join everybody for lunch. It was a great encounter, the whole village hall full of people who had either cycled or helped with the ride, or both. About 300 people, in a little village, celebrating ecology and peace! All organised by the local scout group Terra Plana, Molt be ! https://aeigterraplana.wordpress.com/
Yeah! The bicycle! People!
Here a little interview with Naomi Klein, on climate change and capitalism:
'This changes everything'
In Manresa we spotted a poster for the film Bikes vs Cars which is currently being shown all around the world. We have been following the making of it and are hoping to screen it one day. We haven't seen it yet. Manresa was the closest we got to it...
The bicycle, an amazing tool for change. Activists and cities all over the world are moving towards a new system. But will the economic powers allow it?
And on the subject of climate chnage....
Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist, bluntly put it: “The door to reach two degrees is about to close. In 2017 it will be closed forever.”
"...our economy is at war with many forms of life on earth, including human life......we need an entirely new economic model and a new way of sharing this planet’ Naomi Klein
Finally while we were wondering about all this, our culture, our current way of farming, living, the destruction.... It wasn't supposed to turn out like this!
How did it turn out like this?