On the road, just outside Toledo, Spain in 1978

Respect is something travellers should always show ‘the locals’.

I like to think that my wife, Marie and I showed respect when we photographed people during our travels in Spain and Portugal in April, 1978, as we did our best to negotiate the byways, in our old, rusty, former Dutch Army Kombi van.

In some cases, I asked the locals if they would pose for a photograph. In other instances, I gave plenty of notice, and didn’t click if there was a disapproving glance.

In 1978, donkeys and carts were still quite common in that part of Europe, and I didn’t want to be seen to be mocking people.

In the case of two Portuguese border-patrol (Guarda Nacional Republicans) police, they asked me to send a copy of the photo to their station in the region of Alintejo, something I’m ashamed to say, I never did.

In Algeciras (opposite Gibraltar) we were hosted to lunch by a lovely family, who had relatives in Sydney, and wanted to know if we knew them. The address they gave was: Cristobel Levero Sancher, 40 Allen Street, Leichhardt, Sydney.

Pride of place in my collection of photos is that of me, with Alfonso Perez Pardo, in his home in Aracena, Spain

Marie and I had pulled over on top of a hill, to photograph the town, and Alfonso approached us, as he walked up the road. We were a bit suspicious at first, but he spoke English, and explained that he had recently returned from the United States, for the funeral of his father, and walking was an antidote to his grief.

He offered to take us down into the village, to show us around, so we gave him a lift, and soon after we were tucking into delightful pastries from his favourite bakery. Then he took us into the show-caves of Aracena, something that had been sign-posted on the road from Portugal, without us realising their significance, with the system of limestone caverns one of the most spectacular in Europe.

Then he took us to his home, where we enjoyed tea, and felt so privileged for the time and care he showed us.

There are two photos that give me a particular sense of pride, in terms of their quality, and what I have captured. 

The first is of a Portuguese pig farmer. In recent times I have learnt that people can go on guided tours, which take in the work of Iberian pig farmers, whose ham is the most prized in Europe. There is even a ham museum in Aracena.

The other photo is – I am surmising – a matador, instructing a student in a Barcelona park. We attended the bullfights in Barcelona, where the human stars of the arena included Lazaro Carmona, Curro Luque and Jesus Marquez. Bullfighting has been banned in the Catalonia Region of Spain since 2010.

About Author

1 thought on “PEOPLE + PLACES | SPAIN & PORTUGAL, APRIL 1978

  1. I do envy anyone who has been to a Spanish bull fight. Wished I’d gone while in Tijuana, Mexico. There is a Master’s Degree in Culture and History inherent within that art. Missed opportunities.

Leave a Reply