The sea

Chanson de la mer

The following commentary to the above image was written by the Occitan musician Miquèu Montanaro originally in French, but on its concert recording in Szeged, accompanied by the Hungarian Ghymes from Slovakia and the Serbian Vujicsics from Hungary, the guest singers – Nena Venetsanou, Pedro Aledo, Renat Sette, Hayet Ayad, Samia Benchikh, Sara Alexander – as well as Montanaro himself sang each of its strophes in their own mother tongues, in Hebrew, Kabyle, Spanish, Occitan, Turkish and Arabic. Except for the Kabyle, which exceeds our capacities, we translate them now for the first time to English. Thanks to Bumbó for the French text and to Gyuri for the Hebrew transcription.

Vent d’Est (Ghymes – Vujicsics – Miquèu Montanaro): Chanson de la mer (Song on the sea). From the CD Ballade pour une mer qui chante III (1997).
Un peu d’eau, de vent, de sable
Quelques peuples s’y baignant
Soleil, lumière, ombres et pierres
mêlées d’odeurs de goûts troublants.
A few water, wind, sand
some people bathing
sun, light and shadow, stones
mixed with troubling odors
הערב כאן לשם פרידה
לים הזה אומר תודה
על שסחף אותנו עד הלום
אתכם לשיר שירת שלום

Ha-erev kan le-shem preda
La-yam ha-ze omar toda
Al she-sachaf otanu ad halom
Itkhem lashir shirat shalom
Tonight, as a farewell
we say thanks to the sea
that she has brought us here
so we sing the song of peace
Elle crie la cornemuse
quand elle appelle la mer.
Chante sa force maudit ses ruses
pour mener marins aux enfers.
The bagpipe screams when
she is invoking the sea, her damned
force and her tricks with which
she leads the sailors in the depths
Qué me cuenta la guitarra
Cuando me habla de la mar
son tantas notas derramadas
que a mí me suelen amargar
What does the guitar tell me
when she speaks about the sea?
She sheds so many melodies
that often make me so bitter
Lo rocàs, la mar e l’aura
Fan levar lo còr d’espóscs
Lo soleu dur dins l’ombra paura
A rais ponhents cava son potz.
The rocks, the sea and the wind
lift up the heart with a light drizzle,
the hard sun with acute beams
hollows its wells in the poor shadow
Çekinmem ruzgarlardan
Denizden esen yelden
Bana seni hatırlatır
Ayrıyım ne gelir elden
I don’t fear the wind, neither
the storm blowing from the sea.
It reminds me of you
I am far away, what can I do.
صوت العود و الرباب یغني
يقول ماقالوه اخرین
أحلد نغمة في سمعي
يريت اتكون هكذا طول عمري

sut al-‘ud va al-rebab ighani
ighul maghaluh akhorin
ahlada naghmah fi sam‘ai
yaryet atkun hakida tul ‘umeri
The voice of the oud and rebab
responds to the song of the others.
I have never heard more beautiful
song, neither will I in my life
Que me conte la guitare
Quand ses accords disent la mer
Trop de guerres sur cette mare
Mes notes ont un son amer
What does the guitar relate
when she is speaking of the sea?
There are too many wars on this water
that embitter the tune of my song
Je dis pour vous, mes chers amies
Juste avant d’autre départ:
C’est la mer qui nous sépare
C’est elle aussi qui nous unit.
I tell you, my dear friends
before we set on a new journey
that it is the sea who separates
and it is also her who unites us

Sacred mountain

The Huangshan is the sacred mountain of poets. Since the Tang era thousands of poems, paintings and ink drawings have depicted the misty contours of its majestic steep rocks rugged with wind-shaped pines.

We have long planned with Wang Wei to visit together the Huangshan. But this far we have only come to Escorca.

In Mallorca it snows once in twenty years, and this one caught us right in the mountains. The fine snow settling on the jagged rocks and graceful Mediterranean vegetation within minutes changed the mountain range into Chinese. If Wang Wei will not come to the Huangshan, the Huangshan will come to Wang Wei.


By “the hermit of Valldemossa” they usually intend Chopin who between November 1838 and February 1839 spent an in every respect turbulent winter with George Sand in the Charterhouse of Valldemossa, converted into an inn just some years earlier. Sand in her A winter in Mallorca writes in detail not only about the beauty of the island, but also about their miserable circumstances and the suspicion of the conservative Mallorcans towards the strangers that came from Paris, while at the same time this was one of the most fertile periods in Chopin’s life. The tourists visiting today the former cell of the couple do not know that less than three kilometers from here there is a still vivid medieval hermitage standing on the steep rocks of the seashore.

The hermitage, named after the Trinity, is rather just visited by the people from the neighborhood on Sunday mornings, when a Mass is held in the chapel. It was in the summer that we came here for the first time, and I watched in surprise that the families coming out of the church, instead of descending on the rocky path, scattered about the clearing, fires were lit, they took out the huge round tins and each started to prepare his own paella. On this murky winter evening, however, no one was upstairs at the hermitage.

The tradition of the hermitage has been living here since the 13th century when Raimundus Lullus, converted into a hermit from a troubadour and royal seneschal, with the support of King Jaume II founded the school of Oriental languages in the neighboring Miramar. From then on, this rocky and wooded coastline is called “Desert de la Trinitat”, “the hermitage of the Trinity”.

The heyday of the hermitage was in the 17th century, when the venerable Joan Mir de la Concepció in 1646, not far from here, on the site of a former hermitage founded his convent named after the Egyptian hermit fathers Saint Paul and Anthony. It was him who also founded the today existing building of the Ermita de la Trinitat in 1648. The chapel was built in 1703 on the foundations of a former one.

The ruins of Joan Mir’s first “old hermitage” are still visible today in the woods, between oak trees and lime-kilns. Not far away, next to a cave an inscription from 1627 proclaims that it was the hermit’s cave of Raimundus Lullus who offered here all his works to the Holy Virgin. And from there the trail soon reaches Miramar where the great researcher of 19th-century Mallorca, the Hapsburg Archduke Luis Salvador de Austria built himself a modern hermitage on the seashore.


Good marriages are made in heaven, but lasting ones must be made on earth. This was well known by Ivan Afanasevich Kurzhupov, a merchant of Alexandrovsk [since 1921: Zaporozhe] when to his marriage ad posted on 25 (in the old calendar 12) August 1907 he also included, for the sake of an unambiguous proposal, the balance of his movable and immovable property authenticated on the first of January of that year.

For the purpose of marriage

I’m looking for the companion of my life for common work and a happy life. I am 48 years
old. I have children and fortune worth HALF A MILLION. I am looking for a maiden
not older than 30 or a childless widow not older than 35, with good morals.
I pursue extensive economic and commercial activity. An intelligent,
music savy and non-smoking companion with a high school
diploma is required. Serious correspondence. Address:
Alexandrovsk, Ekaterinoslav Government,
[since 1921: Dnepropetrovsk], to Ivan
Afanasevich Kurzhupov, into
his own hands.

The balance included two estates, one in the Poltava Government and another in the Kursk Government, furthermore eight houses in Alexandrovsk, indicating the precise location and value of each, in a total value of 514 thousand rubles, signed “in withness whereof, by Ivan Afanasevich Kurzhupov, merchant of Alexandrovsk.”

It seems that the exceptionally straightforward offer attracted no “serious correspondence”, as Ivan Afanasevich repeated the advertisement on 15 (in the old calendar 2) December with unchanged text, but this time without a balance.

It is not known whether the advertisement finally had any result. If yes, we can only hope that the young bride replied to the second version without the balance, and she was more pleased by the personality of Ivan Afanasevich than by his fortune, because this latter had not even ten full years left. We would like to think that Ivan Afanasevich and his family had more than that.

Late 19th-century map of Alexandrovsk, and the farmacy at the corner of Cathedral Street
where Kurzhupov also had a house.

Quatre Nacions

The building next to the Bacardi passage, the Hotel Quatre Nacions also owes its present to Francesc Daniel Molina i Casamajó. Today it is not easy to guess what those four nations were, but the newspapers published at the time of the works identified them as the Frenchmen, Italians, Englishmen and Portuguese, that is, the four most frequent hotel guests. However, at first glance a fifth nation has much more to do with the former inn, and they are the Poles.

Nevertheless, the Quatre Nacions looks back to a much longer history. Before Barcelona’s late 19th-century “Expansion” – the Eixample, where Gaudí built most of his houses – this was the most elegant hotel of the town, opposite the center of Barcelona’s cultural and social life, the town theater. According to Angelo Bignotti’s Gli Italiani in Barcellona, as early as 1717 there stood a trattoria here called “Le Quattro Nazioni”, and the inn has always been in the hand of Italian families. Since the renumbering of the Rambla the building bears numbers 38-40,  but when the sunshine falls on the facade at the right angle, you can still clearly see the number which was remembered by the sons of the four nations and repeated in their Baedeckers: Rambla 35.

In conformity with its reputation – and probably because Molina reconstructed it before starting to develop the Plaza Real – the block of the building stands alone at the corner of the square, so that you can walk around it. Along one side the Passatge Bacardi, along the other side the narrow passage of Calle Nueva de Zurbano leads in to the square.