When we visited Benamahoma, well first it took us a few hours to learn to pronounce the town’s name. Beh-Na-Ma-OH-Ma. But in all seriousness, it was only meant to be a stop-off point on our way to Grazalema to speak with the mayoress about her town’s history of repression and about the fosa de las mujeres or “mass grave of the women” that was linked to Grazalema. Ana María and her companions had spoken to us about that site a little that Monday and this was Friday and we were supposed to learn more.
I need to start with a little background information. Our first interview was with a man named José, whom we learned about from his daughter, who is a professor working with the students on the W&M Summer Abroad Cádiz program. He came and spoke with us about his family’s story. Being the incredibly kind person he is, his help did not stop with allowing us to film and photograph him. He offered to pick us up from the bus station in his town to drive us to a little town nearby that would be difficult to get to by public transportation: Jimena de la Frontera. It was there that we were to meet an interviewee and guide on Wednesday the 12th.
Monday the 10th was a traveling day because had an interview in Ubrique with some women who were grandchildren of victims of the Franco period. When we spoke with one of them, Ana María, she agreed that we should try to find the objects from the dig she worked on about eight years ago. The last they were seen was in 2007 at the Museo Histórico Municipal de Villamartín (The Municipal Museum of History in the town of Villamartín).
An important first step in this process of gathering stories and archiving images of documents was learning how to photograph them. We started this stage back in Williamsburg in March.
June 9, 2013
Greetings from Cádiz! This stunning, coastal town is located in Andalucía in the south of Spain. It is absolutely breathtaking, and I am thrilled to be here. I arrived on Wednesday evening, 24 hours late, due to an unfortunate passport-related error on my part. All things considered, I am very lucky to have only been delayed a day. Upon arrival, Megan, Professor Cate-Arries, and Mike met me at the train station, and then moved me into my homestay with a hospitable 70 year-old woman and her husband. That evening, “Team Cádiz” had a little evening “pow wow” to discuss what was to come in the days ahead. I asked Professor Cate-Arries what Megan and I should tell people when they asked us about our research, because (as we learned in our Seminar) even though many people are starting to explore la memoria histórica (the historical memory) of the Franco era, it is still a topic that one needs to be careful when talking about, because you never know on what side of the conflict different people were (or even are) on. It is still an extremely sensitive topic, as Megan encountered first-hand last year during the W&M Summer Session in Cádiz. Megan and a few of her classmates were instructed to go out on the street and ask people about their experiences during the Franco era. Those that were questioned got very upset and angry, and were completely unwilling to talk to them about it. In order to avoid upsetting anyone, offending anyone, or stirring up bad feelings, we all decided to be vague and tell those that asked (including our host parents) that we are researching family memories and experiences in Spain throughout the generations, especially related to the 30s and 40s. We agreed that it would be best to keep the “Franco-and-memoria-histórica-talk” limited to people Professor Cate-Arries had already established relationships with.