Washing at the ‘safareig’

Before the introduction of running water to houses, Catalan villages and towns used to have a public washing place called safareig where the local women came to do their laundry.

Generally they were sited on a spring or set over or beside a river or stream; some of them were even provided with roofs for shelter. Many of these safaretjos still exist.

Usually groups of women got together and socialized and talked while they were washing the family’s clothes and bedding. No wonder the expression fer safareig arose which means ‘to gossip’.

Above you see some washing places in the Alt and Baix Empordà:
Verges. Unidentified photographer, 1910/1925
Torroella de Montgrí. By Valentí Fargnoli Iannetta, 1911/1936
Castell de Púbol (now the Gala Dalí Castle House-Museum), La Pera. By Pablo García Cortés, 1968
Darnius. By Narcís Sans Prats, 1971

These photos are part of the Europeana Collections and are under license of Creative Commons.

Mari Pepa Colomer, pilot

A girl, just seven years old, has but one dream: to fly! As she is living on the second floor, she concludes that she can easily fulfill this dream. So she takes an umbrella and jumps from the balcony with the open umbrella by way of a parachute. Of course, this cannot end well, as she is no Mary Poppins. Instead of taking off, she crashes and breaks both legs. Nine years later she has a second try, now with a better result. This is the story of Maria Josep Colomer i Luque, better known as Mari Pepa Colomer (1913-2004).

The young Mari Pepa
As a young girl she already has a very strong bond with her father Josep, a liberal and bohemian textile industrialist, who is a personal friend of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, among others, and linked to the famous café Els Quatre Gats in Barcelona. He sees to it that she can study at the ‘Institut de Cultura i Biblioteca Popular de la Dona‘, a modern and innovative institute in Catalonia’s capital founded in 1909 by Francesca Bonnemaison aiming to give working class women the opportunity of enjoying a good training and learning a trade, so that they could earn their own living.

and then…

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