The view in Arcos
The title of this blog post would be an appropriate name of an airport novel. A bildungsroman centered on an American woman abroad, slicked with the gloss of stilettos and silk scarves. Sex and the City meets Eat Pray Love. What, that has already been done?
Another view in Arcos. Somewhere out there, the clouds end.
The middle phase of my trip in Spain was supposed to take place in idyllic mountain villages with plenty of sunshine and long vistas. Instead, I got thunderstorms and tourist buses. I woke up on Thursday morning in Jerez, trying to decipher the source of the racket outside. My window was open, and water had been flecking through throughout the night. The thin gauze curtains were soaked.
The rain flooded the streets.
But I was determined to get to Arcos. I had no other choice-my lodging in Arcos was booked, and I had to check out of my hostel before the cleaning lady came knocking on my door. Traveling makes you tired.
I love the way Spaniards cram plants into every nook and cranny.
The view from the terrace of my guesthouse. My room was on this floor.
The terrace had beautiful plants.
The outside of my room
My room had an electric kettle and tea. I learned you don't need much more than tea and the internet to make a perfect afternoon.
When a cab failed to appear, I walked in the rain to the bus station and eventually made it to Arcos. I looked and felt like a wet animal. My guesthouse was a 500-year old structure owned by a British couple, and I only wish I had more time to enjoy it.
The rain fell steadily throughout the day, but I took a walking tour pamphlet and made my rounds. There were a few churches, the usual Andalucian mix of Islam and Christianity, and a few vista points. I purchased some cookies at a convent just to see the nun spin the door, which is supposed to block your view of the nun (but I somehow had a clear view of her face). I walked through an alley and heard clapping. A few older men were singing flamenco in a bar.
The best albondigas I have ever eaten.
Some sort of pork in tomato sauce. It tasted slightly fishy to me and was a bit tough.
Champiñones (with a tilde). I tasted garlic, salt, and olive oil-nothing more. I guess that makes these champiñones al ajillo. Bliss.
The rain confused me. I had in mind relaxation but instead was battling the elements. I dropped into a chair in a nondescript place where a few Spanish men were chatting with the female owner behind the bar. She walked me over to the bar and showed me some of the hot tapas available: Albondigas, mushrooms, pork in tomato sauce. I got it all, with some cheap white wine. It was a perfect meal-the closest I’ve felt to “homemade” since coming to Spain. One of the men handed me a newsletter announcing the town feria scheduled for that day. But with the rain, he said, the paseo de caballos was probably cancelled.
Chicken tagine with olives and vegetables.
A beautiful hummus plate with pimenton and Spanish olive oil.
Hot mint tea made with fresh mint and sugar.
For dinner, I turned to Cafe Babel for some Moroccan cuisine. I think I’ve had better tagines, but the chicken was tender and the vegetables fresh. So was the hummus. I watched carefully as Oscar, the owner and my waiter, held a kettle of mint tea high in the air, pouring the tea into a glass, pouring the tea back into the kettle, and repeating the process several times. Para mezclar, he said. I also met a couple from Canada, and between swapping travel stories with them and lingering over my food, I left more than two hours later.
It’s not my goal to convert each town into a parable, but this middle week has forced me to do something which is my weakness: going with the flow.
Now I'm in Ronda, where I've spent about two mildly pleasant days. Don't get me wrong-I feel very fortunate to be able to travel, and once I force myself out the door, I feel content and alive. I'm learning to find satisfaction in the present moment, whether I'm walking through a torrential downpour or spending hours eating alone.
But I'm glad to be going to Granada tomorrow, and I'll stay there for a few days before meeting Mike in Barcelona. Happy times now, and more ahead!