Today I went for a walk. Leaving the sandy beaches of our Mediterranean front yard, we walked inland, towards the mountains. I was with my pareja, Eric. The sun shone so bright, warming me up so I had to take off my sweater once we started walking. It’s a Tuesday and yes, we have work to do, yet doing what we want with our time, when we want to, is why we work for ourselves. I think it contributes good things to our work and our clients. It didn’t take long to leave behind the Platja Xeraco (or in Castellano, Playa de Jeraco).
It was a regular, two-lane road we walked alongside. Various trees, from palms to conifers, grew here and there on either side. But what was prominent were the orange groves. They spread out on both sides of the road. Some of the fields were harvested and left as only green. Other fields were still full of oranges and sometimes there were fields of mandarins too.
The sky was so blue; there was not a cloud to be found. As we got closer to the main village of Xeraco, we passed over the river and on the other side of the bridge, we found wild lavender (lavanda in Spanish) growing in two large bushes on the other side of the guard rail. I picked a piece, smelling its beautiful perfume on my fingers, and we promised ourselves to come back this way and collect more. From here we kept heading straight towards the mountains, then we left this busier road for a narrow, simple road that broke off left into some orange groves.
Walking down this little road we could spread out more. There wasn’t really traffic coming by. A few big trucks were loading up oranges and we said buenos dias to the workers. We also passed an old gentleman that Eric had seen before when running through this area. He had a white pony that was hitched to an old, vintage carriage. It all looked miniature and like an antique treasure out of a movie-set. It was beautiful. We said hello to him and his friend who he was talking to.
Walking on this road was magical. The orange groves bordered us on either side, many of the bushes taller than us. It smelled freshly sweet and earthy. In one spot, gorgeous purple and red flowers grew in full bushes that hung over old walls and complimented the orange trees with their bright colors. It was the epitome of Mediterranean foliage.
Getting into the town reminded me of many other Spanish villages that I have visited. At first, they appear as run-down, but they are beautiful and full of glorious history. Everywhere we walked was quite clean and well-kept. The homes are tucked into buildings that all share the same walls, lining the streets as one long family of residences. We made our way to the Ayuntamiento de Xeraco, the government building for the town. The square here is quaint and lovely, like a hidden treasure of architecture that remembers the beginnings of this village.
The church has a tall, simple steeple. The other side reveals walls made of stone mixed with brick, that give the impression of a much older time and truer age of the structure. On the other side of the steeple is a dome with blue Spanish tiles, reminding me of the cobalt blue tiles that characterize churches in the nearby city of Valencia. Tucked into a corner of this plaza is the Ayuntamiento (or government offices), a lovely building resembling an older, traditional Spanish fashion, yet it looks as though it is more recently built or renovated.
We have a cerveza at a cafe and then begin our walk back. Taking the same route, we find an orange and a mandarin alongside the road that have fallen to the ground, yet are still good. We gather those up and when we pass by the lavender bushes again, we pick handfuls of the fragrant plant. Then we continue on, but take a detour.
Here at the river we turn off the main road and take the bike and walking path that is right alongside the river bank. This follows the river towards the sea and the far end of the Platja Xeraco area of town. Eating our freshly found snacks, we walk in the bright warm sunshine. Early on we pass what looks to be an ancient stone tower right along the river. We can see into its iron gate doorway on the first floor and just above, a window reveals more of the interior. Green grass grows inside over fallen stones and rock. I wonder about what its purpose was in earlier times…who was here and who used the tower as part of their life?
Continuing on we soaked in the beauty of the deep quiet, interrupted only by occasional birds and at one small orange grove, the loud humming of bumble bees. The grasses are so tall, lining the road and waving here and there in the gentle breeze when it comes by. Their colors are vibrant green with heads of wheat-beige. In the water we can see fish jumping and nibbling for insects on the surface. In the reeds I spot a beautiful Coot bird with an exceptionally bright splotch of blue on its head. When we arrive at the bridge that crosses us over the river and to the beach town, we stop in the middle to gaze down at the water. There are turtles poking their heads just above the dark water, some coons gliding along in the water, and the bubbles of more fish just below the surface. A little further down we can see a thick dark-blue line – the Mediterranean. In the other direction of the river are the hills and the mountains.
We make it back to our little casita that is right on the beach. It’s so peaceful and quiet and I feel like our venture was surreal. Even arriving back at our beautiful Mediterranean, Spanish home feels surreal. Above all, it certainly feels like home and I feel like what I spent my time doing today was the most worthwhile, enjoyable thing for me to do. I drank in the sun in all its warmth and bright radiant glory. I smelled fresh lavender, ate juicy fresh fruit from the earth and was a part of the land where I’m living. It was so wonderful to take it all in.
We finished with homemade lunch on our terrace – vino tinto (red wine) for me and cerveza Turia (a local beer from Valencia) for Eric. The sun still warmed us with its rays. This is for us, a day living in Spain. It’s full of slowness, peacefulness and the richness of being present with our natural surroundings.