Wednesday, 27 November 2013

For A Few Garbanzos More

Bidding farewell to Leciñena and the santuario we set off for Alcubierre and La Ruta Orwell. Alcubierre is a small and very quiet place. The town hall or el ayuntamiento was the busiest place with around three people coming in and put while we hung around outside. I think they knew we were foreign.

Orwell describes Alcubierre in chapter 2 of Homage to Catalonia. It's been cleaned up a lot since then but he gets the place to a tee. We saw the (repaired and painted) wall of the ayuntamiento where the fascists were shot in 1936. We also saw the church that was used as a storehouse and latrine by the militia. On the main road out of town towards the front lies the former POUM barracks and just around the corner is the former POUM hospital. As we left town, on the actual road Orwell marched on,  I read the passage from Homage which describes the journey of Orwell's centuria from Alcubierre to the front line.

It was easy to picture Kopp on his white/muddy horse, the column that started to straggle as soon as it left town, Orwell trying to keep his section together and the militia cavalryman riding his horse up and down the hills that line the road. Atmospheric to say the least.

Alcubierre information board
Buy some bread from Panadería Valero next time you're in town
It's a poor area

The wall of the Alcubierre town hall where the fascists were shot

Alcubierre Church
Spot the stork's nest

Former barracks of the POUM in Alcubierre
The road to the front goes from right to left

Former POUM hospital Alcubierre

The road to the front takes you away from Alcubierre back towards Lecinena/Zaragoza. After about 3km we turned off the road and took the track towards La Ruta Orwell. The track was rough and pot-holed and one immediately had a feeling of what it was like to travel up and down these hills bring up food, ammuniton and replacements and then taking the wounded, sick and injured back down towards Alcubierre. 

La Ruta Orwell is a reconstruction of one of the many positions as described by Orwell. Each of the curious horse-shoe shaped hills in the area, and there are many, was occupied by a fortified post. The troops inside were identified by the flags they flew and this was the only way to tell where the front-line was. La Ruta is an entrenched position with command bunker, firing posts and dug-outs all connected by trenches dug into the top of the hill. There are a number of information boards dotted about with pics and words about Orwell, the ILP and the POUM. 

Plan of the site

Orwell second from the left
(Though I think he's second from the right)

Orwell in the centre with a spoon
(Though I think he's second from the left)

The position Orwell helped to man.
In the area top RH of picture where tree-line stops.

I thought I'd taken more photos of the position but I didn't. 


No comments:

Post a Comment