When I was in NZ, I thought of Spain as one thing “Spain”. But the truth is that each of the regions of Spain have their own unique distinct history, language and culture. I was aware of this when I was in Barcelona and the distinct culture of Catalunya.
Andalucia is very different – with its strong connections with Moorish Africa, the origin of Flamenco, its strong bandit culture and in Antequera the amazing remains of old Megalithic tombs – the Dolmen dating back to 2000/2500BC. Similar to sites in the UK and New Grange in Ireland – these extraordinary structures defy the imagination.
We are loving exploring small villages like Ronda – set high in the mountains, it was one of the last Islamic strongholds to fall to Christianity. An amazing bridge spans the gorge that kept them isolated for so long.
The difference between Islamic Morocco and Catholic Spain is dramatic. In Spain – more style, more flesh, more passion visible around us. The food is more varied and full of taste and fresh produce. We are still having trouble getting used to the rhythm of Spain’s day. The sun does not rise until well after 8am. The day does not seem to really start until midday, then everything closes down and restaurants open for dinner at 8pm – we are usually exhausted.
So our rhythm is to have the menu of the day at 1.30 and then snack on the marvellous tapas available in the early evening. Tonight we are going out to Flamenco concert which should challenge our resilience. I have decided that I can only do it if I forgo the trip to Seville today – so Ceri and Danielle have headed off to see the largest cathedral in the world.
Yesterday I thought I would just like to be home in Waipu, in New Zealand getting on with the rest of my life – but I am only half way through my OE. I think it was a reminder to take some time to stop and catch up with myself which I am glad to have done today.
Every now and again I pick up Elisabeth Gilbert’s excellent book Eat, Pray Love , and it never ceases to call me back to my inner journey and the need to stay focused on the present rather than on the future, to focus on the journey not the destination. I am off to put my head down so I can stay up for the Flamenco.