Tonight I had the most amazing realization about Spain…I have only just touched the surface and there is even more to experience and become a part of in this amazing country. From the backseat of the car, I lost myself as I gazed out the window at the dark black silhouette of the rolling hills, topped with trees whose bushy tops sat black atop the outline of thin trunks connecting them seamlessly to the line of the hill. The backdrop of the night sky was a charcoal grey, the closest shade to black that one can get. Strewn throughout the heavens were myriads of stars, like white sparkles of diamonds….they shone so bright and filled the sky since we were in the empty countryside, void of any city lights. They extended all the way to the horizon of the land, disappearing behind the land as it flowed past us on our journey by. One particular light had to be a planet, it was so bright and was suspended close to where the sky was interrupted by the land.
I have been in Spain now for almost six months. Part of the time has been spent in the northern region of Asturias, where I will likely return to live full-time soon, and the rest of the time I have visited areas such as Madrid, Granada, Rota and Cadiz on the southern coast, and this rural traditional heart of the country, Extremadura. This region of Extremadura is where I was riding on this particular night while relishing this moment of being in the Spanish countryside on a cold clear, starry night. Spanish guitar music was playing in the background on the CD player and we had enjoyed an afternoon visiting a new pueblo (small village). The drive there earlier in the day filled my eyes with beautiful sights of tall trees vibrant with leaves that had changed to the fall colors of ecstatic yellow, rich reds, and burnt orange. They swayed fervently in a strong cold wind and leaves flew through the air to later land on the ground that was already blanketed in fallen gold leaves. The countryside here is beautiful and pure. There is a sense of openness with the vistas that you frequently see from the rising hills. From a distance, the hill ranges look almost a shade of slate blue and sometimes, a dark grey. Other times, depending on the time of the day and the light and clouds, their varying shades of green come out in rich dark trees and bright verdant grasses from open fields and glades of forest that carpet the landscape.
Spain not only has such diverse natural beauty, but it also has such deep history. Some of it sad and dark, yes; yet giving way to hope and perseverance. There has always been hope and perseverance actually. That is evident even today in both its cities and villages, people and families, preserved traditions and customs. I have spent a good deal of time visiting my mother as I am right now, in the small town of Higuera la Real in the region of Extremadura. This has given me the opportunity to experience living in traditional housing that is well over one hundred years. They are set up for the gathering of family in the kitchen, where it stays warmest when the seasons turn to winter and the air grows cold. Tucked in between other houses within a row of long white buildings, they are quaint small homes that are old fashion in many ways.
With that in mind, I think back over all the parts of Spain I have seen and experienced…and I love it all. And I realize, I have only just touched the surface. There is so much depth to Spain, to the Spanish people and their ways of life. They now reflect such ancient history and recent pasts, as well as embrace new styles and customs. But those old ways….the spirit of ages long ago and the history over and in the land, is still so present. That is what I sense – it is still so present and goes very deep. I have even deeper to experience of Spain. I have wonderfully only touched the surface.