Barrio de las Letras

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A couple weekends ago, there I was minding my own business. Wandering through the Barrio de las Letras in Madrid, past this beautiful brick Trinitarian convent when I got a feeling. And just as I got this feeling, who beside me on the other side of that big brick wall but Miguel de Cervantes.

Trinitarians, according to Wikipedia, are a Christian order established in the twelfth century to pay the ransoms for other Christians kidnapped worldwide. And so, in 1580, this particular convent paid 500 gold coins to ensure Cervantes’s safe return from the hands of Turkish pirates (especially fortunate given that Don Quixote wasn’t published until 1605).

So I stood and I stared and I thought there he is: through that door, past the chapel, down the stairs to a rented-out old storage room owned by a publishing company, behind some books, a few unbound manuscripts, and probably a rejection letter or two, on just the other side of the wall.

Read the full story in The Independent.  If you just want to flip through photos, go here.

 

Oh, and then we bumped into Federico Garcia Lorca.

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Unabridged Adventure Series, Part 9

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Thanks to yesterday’s project, I was able to continue with the Unabridged Adventure Series. (For those of you who’ve forgotten the premise, first go here.)

The book: Teach Yourself Dutch by Gerdi Quist and Dennis Strik, copyright 2003. The subtitle: All-Around Confidence.

The find: two tickets from Madison, Wisconsin to Detroit, Michigan. Date: Friday, July 6, 2012.

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Unabridged Adventure Series: Part 3

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Page 510, DOTE to DOUBLET. My unequivocal favorite find so far.

Dictionary Adventure Series: Part 2

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A couple of old roses where the letter C begins.

Part One in the Series: Adventures Inside a Dictionary

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A few weeks ago, I purchased a 1937 five-inch-thick dictionary on Etsy. It smells like my grandmother’s attic, and I’ve been careful so far not to spill my coffee on its tissue-paper-thin pages. Over the course of a couple Scrabble nights and a few random endeavors (i.e. What’s the precise distinction between a steed, a stag, and a stallion?), I began finding things inside this heavily-used reference book. No, not words, actual things. The first: the article pictured above.

This, for me, is how stories are  born. You find something unexpected. Or it finds you. You think about. (It, rarely, thinks about you.) And then thinking churns its way into moving: fingers on a keyboard and on and on and on.

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