Spanish Steps

Written by Carmen on May 22nd, 2010
I write this latest blog from the town of Tangier, Morocco, where my grandparents once lived till they settled in Panama at the turn of the century, somewhere around 1914 when the Panama Canal was completed.

I have been for the past few weeks retracing the steps of my ancestors.  First in Spain, in the town of Coria, where they once lived before the Spanish Inquisition, now here in Tangier, Morocco.  It’s really a wonderful rich heritage we have in our family, ours was Jewish in nature so it has some amazing biblical history behind it as well.  I wish I was better versed in the bible than I am and of world history too.  I can say this though, this journey has given me an amazing education so far!

I’d like to share from where I  was last in the town of Coria, Spain.  A town that’s city walls date back to pre-Roman times,  Yes, you can see it in the blocks that formed the first gates to the city here in “Puerta del Sol” (Door of the Sun) the way I first entered this old town, of my ancestors.

Puerta del Sol

Puerta del Sol


The town of Coria is still very much a town.  It’s main feature is the amazing cathedral that sits on this hillside overlooking the surrounding, Alagon River valley.  The old Roman bridge still is intact that leads from the walled city across the Rio Alagon heading to points south.  The direction my ancestors would have gone, back to here, Morocco, since they did not convert when the period of the inquisition began, towards the end of the 1200′s.  The reigning, King Ferdinand III, set forth a legislation in 1227 that regulated the life of the Jews.  Prior to this though, the Jewish people lived in this area from around the 700 A.D.  when the Moors first conquered southern Spain.  Again, if you could see the beautiful countryside that still exists today, you would know what touched me so much about the area.

 I have to share that my timing was really wonderful as well, since fields were in bloom everywhere I turned.  Poppys, daisies, lavender colored flowers, roses galore and these roses still have the sweet smell of a rose… 

The ancient Roman aqueducts still exist as well, they were used to irrigate the fields and I think still do to some extent today in certain areas.  And then there were the sheep in the fields still living life as it had been most likely a thousand years ago.

Fields in bloom (2)

Rio Alagon (2)Goats in field

Sadly the existence of my ancestors was not meant to remain the same.  They had to leave this beautiful area or risk being imprisoned for their religious beliefs.  I met with Juan Pedro Moreno who coincidentally is the Director of the Royal Prison, he’s also the leading town historian.  He shared some wonderful insights into my research and also downloaded the family history I’d brought along that day.  He informed me that the history of Coria and it’s rich heritage was being digitized, and should be live sometime around the end of this year.  Pretty amazing stuff.  He showed me original documents of  the 1200′s when the rulings came, we spent about an hour together talking, then exchanged email addresses and I left feeling pretty pleased with my findings.

Coria, Spain

Coria, Spain

I left Coria to explore another town nearby in this region known as “Extremadura”, which literally translates to meaning “Hard Extremes”, which in my opinion is a really well kept secret in Spain.  The accommodations were really affordable, the food was incredible, the people were extremely kind, gracious and the wine was a nice surprise too! =) 
Trujillo is where I stopped next to explore, the home city of famous Spanish explorer, Francisco Pizzaro.  I must admit a bit of disinterest in learning of his famous conquests of the Americas, first Central America along with Balboa and then South America and the Incas, but if it were not for his conquests and explorations we might not be who we are today…
The Spanish were conquerors indeed.  When they won over a region they would build their cathedrals on top of existing temples or religious sites as way of “staking” their territory, as with the Incas, the Arab’s mosques,  and so forth.  So the picture above shows a beautiful cathedral that the Spanish built on top of the existing mosque! 
But I now sit here in Morocco a country my ancestors lived in as long as they had in Spain.  When I share that I am here doing family history research, people say some very kind things indeed.  I actually was not planning on coming down to Morocco, since I’d been here before and had found some great information, but never my grandfather’s grave site.  I changed my mind about coming to Morocco after seeing this double rainbow the other day while I was in Trujillo.  It literally was finishing  on the Camino Real, in the direction my ancestors would have gone back here to Morocco.  I saw it as a good omen to return to Tangier. 
I am glad I made the trip back down here.  This time I did find my grandfather’s gravesite.
I also found the old synagogue in the medina with the help of a guide named, Saide.  In the synagogue the pews had inscriptions of the member’s names where they would sit at service.  I found my great grandfather’s seat as well… 
Following Rainbows

Following Rainbows


5 Comments so far ↓

  1. Raini Miller says:

    How very cool, I have chicken skin!

  2. Ruthie says:

    What an amazing experience for you. I’m so glad you’re following your intuition and having the miracles that come with trusting the flow. Be safe and stay well!

  3. Vicki says:

    What a fascinating journey. I love seeing the updates. Keep it up. Glad you’re having fun!

  4. Hannah Murray says:

    Incredible! I am loving your stories and the images you create in my mind of your ancestors traveling through the dusty land. What an incredible experience you are having. Keep up with your updates … and let me know if you are coming closer to the UK at all.

  5. Carmen says:

    Thanks so much Hannah and it’s so great to hear from you too! I will write to you all directly–

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