We are accustomed to live an accelerated life and to suddenly discover that it is more enjoyable to live life slowly is just like the perfect stew when made, slowly, by the fire in the company of good friends. In Extremadura “Slow Life” has existed long before discovering its benefits. Long ago, when shepherds sat around the fire, pouring water on their pieces of dry bread, string until they got a delicious thick soup. Ever since mothers met, and still meet, to peel and cut potatoes that are cooked with paprika and converted into the famous “Caldo Piornalego”, which is a rich pottage. It also takes time to cook a local kid stew, the perfect “Caldereta de Cabrito”. It is the same “Slow Life” that make the neighbors of “Monroy” spend hours preparing thousands of “Piñonates”, a rich sweet thread, made of eggs and flour, used to prepare a typical pastry. The traditional local gastronomy, the fresh produce of the fields, the traditions related to the slow cooking of each town are some of the elements that constitute this life style that we now recommend. Extremadura is a vast region west of Madrid that borders with neighbor country Portugal and has preserved many of the historically traditional foods of Spain.
The principle behind “Slow Life” is to focus our attention on everything we do to learn to enjoy every minute to the fullest and recognize oneself in every action. Take as starting point a poem by Kavafis, Ithaca, where he argues that what is important is not the destiny, but the travel. And that’s what it’s all about: mark a point in the Extremadura geography and enjoy every minute until you get there. In this fashion you can travel a region slowly, enjoying the largest meadow in Spain, with colorful forest in autumn, with herds of sheep grazing on the banks of streams, or loose sight of land in the fresh water seas of the great reservoirs.
A Very Slow Voyage Eliminates Stress, Activates Creativity and Facilitates Communication
It is a known fact that living attentively, every moment, helps control our reactions and enhances self-knowledge. But to achieve all this a person requires time, and time is what Extremadura offers at each one of its sights. The region has highways that connect the main cities; the “Via de la Plata” (Silver Way) crosses Extremadura from South to North. Also the A5, which is a Spanish national highway, runs from “Navalmoral de la Mata” to the South joining diverse landscapes. From these two main roads, hundreds of smaller roads emerge like nerves, loaded with energy. These are the roads between counties and towns that are a spectacle for the senses.
To enjoy the cherry tree blossoms of the River Jerte Valley from the main highway will offer visitors a global perspective of the place and its beauty, but getting lost on the secondary roads brings you closer to this magnificent region. You will reflect on the farmers taking care of each flower, removing the weeds and planting new trees. Similarly, getting lost on the roads of “Las Hurdes” allows you to discover corners full of magic, add imagination to the old stories and legends while taking the opportunity to live and enjoy them. Watch the beehives strategically placed by the farmers to get the best honey. Or put your bare feet in a cold stream with water that comes down from the “Sierra de Gata”. All these sensations lived intensely help you eliminate stress, activate creativity and facilitate communication, another objective of “Slow Life”.
Historical Monuments that Enhance Spirituality
The Historical Monuments in Extremadura allow us to discover our past, with all its lights and shadows, in a journey through the different stages of history. We can perceive history in unique archeological sites such as “Turuñuelo”, the “Maltravieso Cave”, “Huerta Montero”, “Madinat Albalat” and many others. The passage of the Romans can be clearly seen in Merida, “Casas de Reina”, Alcántara, Coria and Cáparra. The grandeur of Medieval and Renascence past can be uncovered in many fortresses, towers, castles and monasteries that dot our geography or in cities like Plasencia and Cáceres. The amazing details of these historical buildings and sites connects us with the Iberian past and human evolution, reconciles us with the future and strengthens us spiritually, as people of our own time.
Healthy Mind and Healthy Body
One other principle of “Slow Life” is physical “well-being” and Extremadura offers many alternatives to help us in this quest. A number of officially designed Greenways to get lost on foot or bicycle can be found in all regions, which combined with fresh air and pure waters are superb natural health aids. Also, Extremadura has many specially designed health spas prepared for a healthy cult of the body. Geographically, from the North, “Baños de Montemayor” is a completely restored Roman bath, which include natural thermal springs and every modern facility. And to the south, Alange, which has been recently declared a World Heritage Site.
A new way of looking at life is essential to appreciate every minute of this trip, which becomes urgent and cannot be put off. Ithaca awaits us; we go toward it very slowly.
Original article by Marian Castillo
Translated by Susana Windt
Published on June 2018