Friday, November 12, 2010

mountain folk

The coast here in the south of Spain is impresionante. 5 minutes from my front door. Beckoning.

But what I crave here on the coast, what makes my soul hungry, is the thought of getting lost up winding mountain breathe the air that rises from the valley, fresh and nurturing.
This past weekend we rented a car and drove north up the mountain highways, through tiny pueblos blancos (white towns) and nature reserves. Just an hour south of Sevilla, we stayed the night in a tiny town called La Roda de Andalucia with our friend Bianca. We sipped on rum y cola and enjoyed the small town life that I now feel so nostalgic for. And what does one do in a small town? Cook good food, drink good wine, and once all the shops have closed (being the nerds we all are) work on a giant puzzle. Small town life is the same in any language.
In the heartland of Andalucia, we drove south through the olive groves to the town of Antequera for the typical mountain bread of the region, mollete, served traditional Spanish style with the best damn olive oil in the world.  Paired with a coffee, buenisimo!
From Antequera we continued south along an old mountain highway about 45 minutes until we reached the little town of Ronda, nestled in between the mountains. Before I came to Spain, I read about this place, dreamed about standing there at the Puente Nuevo completely lost in the utter shock of it all.

I was not disappointed.

As we drove into town, I soaked up the charming feel of small town mountain life. While Ronda's legacy is widespread, the town itself has a small population (if you don't count the numerous tourists who flock here as if they were on some religious pilgrimage).
My creativity is bubbling over here...with so much time to ponder and so much of the world unearthed and raw to me.  I feel particularly drawn to this place as a (novice) writer. Hemingway, after all, wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in this very city.

To sum up my experience, here's an excerpt from my journal (and a little poem to capture the day):

November 6, 2010

Sitting in La Blas Infant in Ronda overlooking El Tajo (the gorge). A man plays the Spanish guitar and seems to mesmerize all who listen.
Some people chat near the overlook, others listen in a meditative state, as if the music were lifting them into a spiritual levitation, as if they were weightless and perpetually dreaming.

the strings swell
with a thousand notes
each one played for the ghosts
of Ronda
echoes in the gorge until they become
whispers, on the mountain

it is a deep
      Roman cry
      an Islamic prayer
knotted into a musical mosaic
one that demands a quiet reverance
and buries all these modern souls 
into photographs


brush off our bones to hear
the skeletal orchestra
the mountain music
that plays on 
    in the Hemingway hue of dying day

the bell tolls
the bell tolls
      the mountain bows

Oh, Spain, you're stealing my heart.


  1. Don't get to cozy over there, baby bear! I knew Spain was going to steal your heart, but didn't know it was going to be so soon.

    The photos are AMAZING!!! I love that you guys put a giant puzzle y'all!!

    I can't wait to visit these places in person.

    love loves!

  2. I'm so happy that you are enjoying Spain. I miss you very much. I don't know if I will make it there for Christmas as I still haven't gotten my birth certificate. I hope I will get to visit. Love you very much. Grandma

  3. Love you both! Grandma, if you can´t make it out for Christmas you should definitely plan for spring sometime. It´s very beautiful that time of I´ve heard.

  4. I wanna go there! It looks so peaceful! Miss you, love Diddy