DAY 22 Saturday 22 September
Every Saturday the Archeological Museum offers different walking tours; this week was the cultural quarters (barrios) of the Chelva. Just three of us plus the guide assembled at 10am and set off for a two hour walk around the Moorish (North African Arab) Christian, Jewish and Arab (Muslim residents re-settled outside the city walls) quarters.
The museum is small, but gives a good account of the different cultures passing through Chelva; starting with prehistoric cave dwellers with flint arrows by the Chelva River, the Ibericans who spoke a non Proto-Indo European language akin to Basque and then the Romans, Moors and Christians and Jews; only the street patterns seem to remain from previous inhabitants and the irrigation system. I also leant that the Roman aqueduct was not built by slaves, but by professionals.
The final case shows artefacts from the Civil War, including local paper coins/notes which each town issued, because the official currency was used by the government to pay for troops and armaments.
Saturday is also market day and I buy olives, fruit and more ‘ravellanos ‘? mushrooms, which I take home and cook straight away. The old lady selling them sits on a crate with two baskets full and she sells me a kilo! They are pale orange with green bruises but turn red when cut, but simmer down to an innocuous brown when cooked; slightly woody and chewy. I don’t think I’ll rush out and buy more.
After siesta I go for a cup of tea with an Argentinian woman and her Basque husband who also live in the Arrabal district; we eat a selection of delicious homemade jams on biscuits.