Joan’s life was dedicated to the land, to farming vines, olives, hazelnuts and almonds. He may have been thin but he was strong and was considered quite good looking in his day. He was called to fight for the resistance when he was 19. It was cold and damp and they slept on the floor; they did not have enough money for a stamp to write home. But he was smart, always offering to help, and with time it got better. He lived to be 94. His secret to a good life: to have land, be well organized in your work and resign yourself to things you cannot control, like the weather.
Some say the Prioratans are closed, like the mountains that surround them. It is not that they are unfriendly, mistrusting or disinterested. Perhaps they feel like no outsider can know the experiences of their lives. But once the Prioratans see that your interest is sincere and that you are not there to glean only a shallow awareness of the Priorat, they are more than happy to tell you all they know about the land, the vines and the wines of the region. They have many stories to tell, always with a smile and a contented approach toward life.
The elders of the Priorat speak the words the vines cannot say. They tell stories with a uniqueness of character that comes only with time. For all they have seen, the great challenges they have faced, they remain content, taking life at a slow and healthy pace. Ask them how many generations their families have been here and the answer is sempre (always). They have lived here, together, for so long that they exist as each other’s history. Natural wisdom comes from having lived a full life, experiences that young people, for all their education and technology, will take years to acquire.
The value of oral history is to learn perspectives that might not appear in textbooks. It helps us identify, appreciate and respect the different aspects of heritage that shape who we are. Stories are the recorded memories of our lives. Ethos Priorat presents some of these stories in celebration of all those who came before, helped define the Priorat and thankfully, in many cases, continue to oversee and take pride in its revival.
Ethos Priorat is vividly panoramic. It is best viewed in landscape format to fully enjoy the experience.