Our winter sojourn in southern Spain was a beauty- filled collection of experiences. The range of accommodations I’d selected were perfect in location, amenities and comfort – everything either photos or words said they’d be. I got my fill of fine art and architecture and we both got our fill of tapas, temperanillo, manchego and manzanilla, gelato and vermut. The weather was exceptional. No rain. A few days of cloud. Blue skies, sunshine and a warmth that brought on an spring early with the fragrance of orange blossoms.
The original two weeks and a bit became nearly three as our first leg, early morning flight from Sevilla to Madrid was cancelled due to fog. You’d think we would’ve been forewarned driving in the cab in the dark shadow and mist – or realized we’d were in clutches of Mercury in Retrograde, infamous for communication, travel and technology glitches – but our anticipation was focused on being homeward bound. Hand gestures and broken English at the gate indicated the plane was hovering but unable to land. Then the flight sign suddenly switched from “delayed” to red lettered “cancelled” and we hoofed it back to through security to the Air Europa office to learn that while we could get out that day, the next Amsterdam to Edmonton flight was two days away.
Thank god for devices and the memory of that simple, family owned hotel I’d stayed at my first visit to Sevilla, as the terrific Air BnB we’d just left that morning was no longer available. One room left. Booked. Then the consistently reliable Hilton at Madrid’s airport with free shuttle service to and from. Outrageous price, but again the stroke of good fortune in that I’d slipped my CAA card into my wallet and it gave us a substantial discount. Forty-five minutes later and we were set to enjoy thirty-six more hours in warm and sunny Sevilla. Oh, and the business class upgrade, Madrid to Amsterdam to Edmonton. Sweet finale!
Travelling for me is about expanding my awareness and presence into the new – vistas, people, ways of being, food, art, culture, sounds. It’s about, as I was told by the couple of elder artists years ago during a layover in the Rome airport, the gathering of new impressions, and being changed by them. Both as a way to deepen into, and practice soulful self care, I always journal and include post cards, brochures and business cards, and other colourful “what nots” to conjure up those sights and tastes. I sometimes paint – quick pen, ink and watercolours on the pages – my personal post card. And I always photograph to hone in, compose and then relive the memories in my photo books.
When I travelled to Morocco last September, I wrote haiku every day as way to “grok” each location visited. This time, I’d quickly jotted down words and phrases that have become vignettes of each place seen and savoured. Here is the first.
I Aracena – Finca Buen Vino
a welcoming embrace
to be met by friends when travelling afar, brings the heart quickly home to rest
fire burning in the open grill lifts away the mountain chill
iced manzanilla warms from the inside – another remembered, welcomed embrace
baked courgette and goat cheese stacked and layered with sweet jam of tomato and pimento
quails roasted with tea and Iberian jamon
vino tinto glistens claret in crystal goblets
white damask and stamped silverware rest heavy in hand
waxing full sleep under feather beds under the waning full moon
morning walk on the grounds to get one’s footing, to land more fully
enveloped in low cloud and birdsong, sheep bells ring tunelessly,
their owners hidden among chestnut and oak treed hillsides,
those nuts have fed pigs and people for generations,
bringing acclaim to a region known world-wide for its jamon, paste and castenets
white stucco villages nestled in valleys, suddenly appear like mirages when the cloud veil lifts
only to disappear when the breeze blows in a new thick white layer
cork trees scored around their middles, every decade stripped below of their thick bark
plugged into bottles of local specialties – sherry, “vermut,” vino
wild mushrooms foraged for stews and sausage
bitter oranges gathered for thick sweet marmalade
an afternoon camino through farmland and forests
along paved path, stone path, dried mud trail
grazing dark pigs come running for hoped for handouts,
snouts sniff through fence, beady eyes intelligent with curiosity as I mimic their call
blackberry brambles hug old low stone walls, naked until summer
sudden splashes of yellow vivid against the grey white green
feathery globes of mimosa blossoms into an early spring