Sunday, July 24, 2011

We made it: Santiago de Compostela!

After two weeks of trecking across Portugal and Spain, we finally arrived in Santiago de Compostela. We hiked over 200 kilometers and somehow escaped blisters, sickness, dog bites and all other major dramas.
The best part of the trip were evenings spent chatting with and cooking dinner with people from all over the world. I highly recommend the Camino Portuguese to anyone who likes walking, meditating, eating good food and making new interesting international friends.

We can´t wait to be back in California next week!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Portugal into Spain

And, on the seventh day, they took a rest.

To celebrate our re-entry into our adopted country, Espana, we´re taking a pause from all the walking to  enjoy the beautiful town of Tui in the region of Galicia. We´ve heard the food here, especially the seafood, is outstanding, some of the best in Spain.

This morning we crossed the river Minho which separates Portugal and Spain and it was a bit sad to leave that lovely country. The people of Portugal were exceedingly friendly and helpful. Once, we were invited into a family´s home to spend the night after a long day of walking. The family fed is three meals and treated us like honored guests. It was an unforgettable experience of generosity and warmth.
More later (like everything in Spain, the library is taking itś siesta now. I must gooooooo!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Camino Portuguese

Bon Dia from Ponte de Lima, Portugal.

Ted and I (and the littlest peregrino with a passport) have begun the Camino de Santiago, Portuguese route and are loving Portugal and it´s overwhelmingly kind and generous people. We started hiking on Saturday from Porto and hope to be in Santiago de Compostela, Espana by St. James Day, the 25th of July.

We´re taking it very slowly, walking about 15 kilometers per day through corn fields and vineyards, through bucolic little towns and over many ancient roman bridges. It´s proving to be the time we needed to reflect on our year in Barcelona and look forward to the excitement and challenges we´ll face during parenthood.

More to come on our Camino adventures...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Barcelona: A Dream

I walked past this hostel on our last day in Barcelona:

The slogan pretty much summed up our 10 months in that wonderful city. Even though we have left, I am not ready to wake up from the dream!

Here are some of our best buds helping us with our belongings. We miss everyone already!!! And special thanks to Marcial for shipping our bags via TDT!

And, this is me on the last day in our apartment:

While I'm not ready yet to reflect on our time in Barcelona, I am pretty excited about the next chapter ahead.

By the way, it's a chica!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

'A Wonderful Nightmare' in Sevilla

A few weekends ago in Sevilla, we were getting a taste of the southern Spanish culture before heading back to the States. The city's bullring just so happened to be across the street from our hotel and when in Sevilla...

I've seen a corrida once before, in Pamplona, while hiking the Camino de Santiago:

 From this dusty road, we wandered into this frenzied party. Someone passed me a calimocho (vino con cola), put their arm around my neck and then, I was swaying back and forth, along with the entire stadium of people, faking the lyrics to a traditional song.

The thrilling, beautiful world of colors, culture, history and passion, swept me away. I remember being awe-struck by the purity of the man versus beast theatre happneing below and captivated by the warm embrace of my fellow fans:

Six years later, in Sevilla, it was an entirely different scene - no shade in the sweltering Sunday heat, no padding on the concrete benches, no singing, no drinking and well, a few more years of contemplation on the tradition. 

I think Ernest Hemmingway summed it up best when he described the spectale as "a wonderful nightmare."

I am still drawn to the simplicity of the setting - an architecturally beautiful ring full of people all waiting to see a spectacle of man versus beast. 

And then the angry bull, suddenly, comes charging into the ring:

The ritual begins with several torreros, who taunt the bull with their bright pink capes in an attempt to tire him out: 

Things then turn gruesome. A horseman with a large spear comes parading out on a blindfolded horse and stabs the bull repeatedly. It is cruel. Seeing this for the first time (sober), Ted and I almost left.

Once the horseman has done his business, another man appears, holding two short spears, which he sticks directly into the bull's neck with one swift, precisly timed movement.

The bull, now visibly bleeding, is in the center of the ring. The matador, in a sparkly outfit, approaches, ready to perform the final act. 

He completely controls the tired bull, twirling it in circles with his flashy cape. There is indeed something beautiful in the moving shapes and shadows as they go about their macabre dance. After several minutes of show, a sword appears in the matador's hands, and with one motion, he drives it into the bulls heart.

Hopefully now, the torture is done, and the bull drops dead to the ground. If the crowd thinks the matador did a good job (whatever that means), they will wave a white flag called an 'oreja', an ear to show their approval. 

The crowd goes wild and quickly, a team of horses sweeps the dead animal away with men brushing up the dripping blood:

I don't ever need to see another bullfight, but they were experiences I will never forget.