Sunday, July 5, 2009

Catalina Mier

Our last day in the Province of Asturias was spent exploring the mountain village of Alles where my grandmother, Catalina Mier, a.k.a. Abuela, was born and raised. Alles is the main city of the Concejo of Peñamellera Alta.

Laurie, what was the name of that town?

We stumbled across the town of Mier, my Abuela's maiden name, just before we got to Alles. There must be a connection but I do not know what it is.

We are almost there!

Abuela was born in 1902 in Alles and died in California in 2002 just a couple of months short of her 100th birthday. She was a tremendous influence on all three of her grandchildren, her granddaughter-in-law, as well as her three great-grandchildren, who all loved her beyond belief.

Whatever I learned about faith, hope and charity came from her daily example of these virtues.

Which is not to say she couldn't be hard on us when we deserved it. When I was about three or four years old she made me lunch one day and I could not finish it. Yes, I know that this concept is hard to believe in and of itself! Her answer was simple, she picked me up and sat me on top of the frigerator (second attempt to get this new term for refrigerator into the O.E.D.), with the remainder of my lunch and said she would not get me down until I finished!

Now at that age, the drop from the top of that frigerator (3rd usage) to the floor was, in my mind, the same as what King Kong faced atop the Empire State Building. The desired fear effect that Abuela was looking for set in quickly and I finished that lunch against my will. This life scarring event metamorphed me into the jolly fat kid on the block for the rest of my life!!!

Our first look at the Greater Alles Megalopolis

First stop, the La Bolera Bar

We were told to go here first by my sisters, who spent several months living in Alles in their younger days, if the local church across the way was closed, which it was.

Once inside the bar we were supposed to ask them about a woman named Rosa who could open the church for us. So we asked, got a positive answer, and had a small repast before heading to Rosa's home about 50 meters away.

Queso de Cabrales

The La Bolera gave us our first taste of this quintessential Austurian cheese. If you like gorgonzola and its stronger cousin bleu cheese then you will LOVE queso de Cabrales.

It is SO much stronger, WOW!!!

Alles locals enjoying a Saturday afternoon

I loved the guy in the background's face. I tried to get him shooting from my hip literally.

The Gatekeeper of Iglesia San Pedro de Alles

The keys were HUGE!

The church is 220 years old and so are these keys I think.

San Pedro's Main Altar

Abuela was baptized right here
107 years ago.

San Pedro's Dome

Right after I took this picture, I looked at Laurie and she returned the look which turned out to be the signal to let go of our emotions. We both started to tear up and held onto each other for a long time.

As I said, we both loved Abuela very much.

As we left San Pedro and Rosa locked up the gate she asked if we would like to meet Abuela's niece Marcelina? Well, YES! She proceeded to march us right up to her door and do the introductions!

With Marcelina in her kitchen

What a wonderful lady! She was so much fun and so friendly.

Abuela gave Marcelina these ceramic apples that still dominate her kitchen table.


Of course we had to meet Marcelina's next door neighbor and life long friend Paquita. As near as I could tell it would be the equivalent of having Brian and Koreen FitzGerald moving in next door to us.

Marcelina's house on the left

Trespalacios is the neighborhood of Alles where Abuela was born. . .

. . . in this white house known as "El Corral".

With Marcelina by the main gate of the Iglesia San Pedro de Alles

My sisters have raved for years about how Alles is such a beautiful, magical place. Sure, sure I always thought as I paid no attention to their babbling.

Well after finally visiting Asturias, here is what I think of Alles and Infiesto. . .


itzbfitz said...

Jorge, te ves tan delgado en las fotos! ¿Cuántas libras has perdido? Aunque Marcelina te está escondiendo la mitad de la panza, todavía me pareces tan flaco! ¿Estás perfectamente cómodo con tu español? No van a entender los mejicanismos que has aprendido aquí en California. Me alegro que por fin tengas la oportunidad de ver la tierra de tus abuelos.

Koreen said...

I feel between the two of us we will be able to add the word "frigerator" into the OED. I knew that I could count on you, the fight must go on. I am glad that you two were able to visit the very special places of your grandparents. This trip to Spain has been a wonderful adventure.

auralia said...

My name is Catalina Mier. Is a coincidence. Nice to meet you.

George said...

Nice to meet you too, where do you live?

jose manuel mier said...

jose manuel mier en Valladolid aunque soy asturiano. Seguro que somos primos lejanos.