Spain is very beautiful to me. From my train window my eyes are taking in the landscape that spreads north of Madrid…vast open fields of sunflowers raising their faces up towards a bright clear blue sky. Gently rolling hills that spread out like small waves. The soft cream-colored wheat stalks are swaying in the breeze. Castles and manors built ages ago, their stone walls fallen in some places and still standing in others. Small villages are off in the distance, standing out distinctly with their clusters of white walls and red Spanish tile roofs.

As the train travels along towards my final destination of Oviedo, the scenery begins to change. The gentleness of hills starts to rise up into towering green mountains that transform the vast openness into a cozy surrounding, dense with forests of lush green trees. More rivers appear, their waters rushing clear, and the sunflowers are replaced by white flowers and grey rock peering out along the mountainsides. Even though I am in the train, I know that the air is changing from warm dryness to cooler moistness. So vastly different terrains…I feel like I have changed worlds within this one country.

Spaniards are very beautiful to me. From Higuera la Real, Cadiz and Rota to Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Granada and Oviedo, my heart takes in the culture and every-day life of Spain that I have experienced in the people as I journey through this complex country. They welcome me into their home with wine and meats, opening up their hearts by sharing their stories. On wicker chairs all ages of the family sit when the day’s heat and colors of the setting sun give way to the evening coolness and starlit darkness. Here they stop me if I am passing by and with curiosity and warmth they’re patient with my struggling Spanish. Life is savored by them and family guides their life and holds them together.

Many from the older generations are silent about their country’s past, having lived through a holocaust of a civil war. They live as neighbors to fellow countrymen who betrayed them and committed injustices to them and their loved ones. The younger generations are not silent, persisting with questions and digging for answers that instead unearth mass graves. They vocalize and strike, ponder and discuss, some frenzied and some apathetic in their desperation for the past to not repeat itself. All the generations are divided…divided about their past, about their present, and about their future. Yet, they turn to their families when economies crash and lay weak for years on end. Their homes become my home, their warm hospitality inviting me and others in as family. With food and wine, loud and expressive passion in their voice and manners, they savor life and their relationships. In their day-to-day, the Spaniards care for themselves and each other with family meals and siesta. Then they fill their hearts with music and guitar, singing and dancing, and the company of their friends and family throughout the days.

I love Spain as my own and am intrigued by how much the world does not know of it’s true nature…the history, the people, and their every-day lives…it is a beautifully enchanting country and a mystifying and amazing people.

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