Spain 1978: Cultivating his meagre 5Ha of vineyard, almonds and olives.

Selected for Google Maps and Google Earth

Comments (15)

Marilyn Whiteley on February 4, 2008

The flowering bush or tree in the foreground shields us and gives a feeling that we are taking a private glimpse at his solitary work. And hard work it must be! Marilyn

Ian Stehbens on February 5, 2008

Yes Marilyn, there is a special story here. The vineyard was so meagre, as you can see. It would have been too disrespectful, too aggressive, to walk onto his land or to take away the almond tree.

Not far away, we did speak with another farmer who was doing the same thing with his red tractor in a larger olive orchard. He was 67 and expected to continue farming for more years yet. He didn't speak any English, and my Spanish was more inadequate than that but yet we had a long conversation, with hand signs, and a note book and pen, and some recognition of Spanish nouns. I still have that piece of paper on which he wrote his name and address, the name of his wife, their ages and that he sent his olives and "almendo" to Tarragona processors by truck. He was farming 6 Hectares, so he was a bigger farmer!

But the lovely things were that I came away with a twenty word vocabulary and had a special memory neither of which I had before. For the record this older farmer was Mr Montolo: Josi Seto Montolo.

I am glad you like sharing stories, Marilyn.


Tamás Borbély on February 5, 2008

This a real document from that era!They worked for us on a manner like this yet in that age.Very nice photo, Ian !My best regards, Tamás

Ian Stehbens on February 5, 2008

Thankyou for connecting with this image and its people, Tamás.

Yes, I remember seeing the similar level of technology being used on Czech farms in 1978, and I presume that would have been repeated in Hungary then too.



Marilyn Whiteley on February 5, 2008

Ian, I may not always express my appreciation of the stories, but be assured that I always like to read them. I feel particularly privileged to receive this memory. Marilyn

Ian Stehbens on February 6, 2008

I understand that Marilyn and I am very, very appreciative of your encouraging feedback. I know others also read them and enjoy them, including members of my extended family, but not so often do they put a response in writing. Sincerely, Ian

gpatgn on May 2, 2008

Ian, I found this picture browsing Google Earth. It's amazing! I am very interested in this picture because my ancestry roots are in a village near that vineyard. Could you please provide more details about your visit to that farmers? Which villages did you visit?

Ian Stehbens on May 2, 2008

Dear gpatgn,

I am delighted that someone who has a genuine interest in the area has found this photo. I cannot remember very much detail any longer, for not only have there been some 30 years now since this was taken, but at that time I had no Spanish language which meant I didn't learn specific names of people or places.

But I do remember our very special time in Lerida, then our journey along the road shown for this image in GE. I stopped a number of times for photographs and when I could I tried conversations with local farmers. The two villages that stand out for me were Vinaixa and Lilla. We stopped in the former and walked along a curved street - which one I can't now remember but looking at the GE image it may have been Carrera Major. I think we had parked our van near a church. We had a significant conversation with a farmer in his olive orchard before we got there, and then when we passed Lilla, I was tempted to detour into the village but the view from above looking down from the road, indicated that it was siesta time, and we would have been out of place and would have disturbed the sleeping dogs as well, had we done that. So we drove on descending to Tarragona.

We had fallen in love with Spain, and that took less than a day! And the love lasts.

You will notice in GE that this small plot of struggling vineyard is no longer cultivated. I presume there have been very great changes in rural standards of living since those days.

Thanks for your inquiry. Hope this is of interest.

Can you tell me much more, please. What villages contain your roots?


gpatgn on May 3, 2008

Thanks for your answer! You are right: great changes in 30 years! No more animal traction in Spanish fields... Nowadays, most of farmers in this area are retired persons, and young people try to find another job in the industry and the service sector. However, there are still young farmers that produce a high quality olive oil and wine.

About the name of the farmer, let me tell you that I believe its correct name is José (Josep in Catalan) Setó Montalà (I found a reference to him in the web: a legal text about the delimitation between 2 municipalities)

Although I was born in Tarragona, all my ancestries lived in that rural zone between Lleida and Tarragona. By the way, I had ancestors in Vinaixa and other nearby villages: Vimbodí, Vallclara, Tarrés, Vilosell, Pobla de Cérvoles, Fulleda, Espluga Calba, Omellons, Floresta, Borges Blanques, ...

Ed. Rodríguez Prati on May 18, 2008

A fantastic composition! Ian, it reminds me the affreschi of daily medieval life at the Torre d'Aquila in Buonconsiglio's castle in Trento

Ian Stehbens on May 22, 2008

Dear gpatgn,

I am amazed that you could point me to a web reference to José Setó Montalà. I too believe it is the same man. I have his photograph on 35mm slide, and when I overcome the problem I am having with my scanner, rest assured I will upload it for you. But be patient with me. I presume that the misspelling was my attempt at writing down his name as I heard it, or if he wrote it, I may have mist interpreted his handwriting. But I am sure glad that I kept it and transcribed it to the mount on the slide.

Dear Edmundo,

It is great that you appreciate the composition... and I understand the notion that it is medieval life that is depicted here. But as for Torre d'Aquila in Buonconsiglio's castle in Trento, please tell me more, for this is something completely new to me.


Ian in Sydney.

Ed. Rodríguez Prati on May 22, 2008

I'm glad you are giving me the posibility to introduce you in the world of the Principality of Trento, a medieval state that existed for 800 years in the Holy Roman Empire. The "Buonconsiglio's Castle" was the residence of the Prince bishop and its court and is very extended in its length, as you can see in this View of Trento, where the Torre d'Aquila is at the left. Inside there is a room all covered with affreschi (frescoes) that are universally considered the most accurate reflection of medieval life, the months cicle, as you can see in Foto dei Mesi

Ed. Rodríguez Prati on May 22, 2008

I add to the previous comment the reference to the month your photo made me remind, that was july

:-)Fiala(-: on January 8, 2010

Your gallery has many pictures from around the world. Each of them is interesting and can talk about them. But my English is poor.

Greetings Fiala

Ian Stehbens on January 8, 2010

Dear Fiala,

Please write to me in your preferred language, whenever you desire. I will delight in translating it as necessary, or finding a friend to help me, if our conversations become deep.

And thank you for your appreciation of my gallery. I try to keep it diversified.

My very best wishes to you, and I hope to have some good conversations with you, in the future.


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Photo details

  • Uploaded on February 4, 2008
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    by Ian Stehbens