All houses in Aracena are painted white. I expect the sea around every corner, but this little town is only surrounded by hills. The sounds of Seville lie a long and winding road behind us and the silence is only interrupted by birds, an occasional car climbing the steep streets or the mumbling of some tanned and wrinkled oldies.
We awoke to a blue sky this morning, but when we arrived a dense fog embraced everything and kept everybody inside. Such a difference from warm and welcoming Seville! It took us some time to adapt, but it might have been the right preparation for our trip today.
Our itinerary: from Aracena to Linares and back. A walking trail through endless green pastures overflown by a wave of yellow, red and blue flowers.
After we’ve set our first steps, a typical ‘walking thing’ happens. All thoughts but those about the walk itself are pushed aside by the scenery. I see lazy bees lying on their backs in hammock-like flower heads rocking in the wind. No kidding, it might have been the scent of honey that got them there, but those bees were anything but working. The pigs (expensive Iberico hams to be) are just as active. All reaction I manage to provoke after persistent attempts is a slightly raised eyelid. These heavy-headed hedonists just. don’t. care.
When we reach picturesque Linares we indulge in our own form of pleasure seeking as we have THE best strawberry Gazpacho I’ve ever tasted (not that I had any before, but believe me it was something). The little restaurant is run by the cook and his sophisticated wife that has a beautiful smile. The only other guest on the flower lined terrace is a ninety year old that’s part of the furniture. Glued to his chair he seems to float through life, dozing off to times long passed. What would be his story? He doesn’t seem the type for restless career chasing. Besides, what career to chase in this secluded bubble anyway?
When we pause at a creek on the way back I look around. A lush valley stretches from hill to hill, creating a passage for the warm breeze that blows through it. It’s then that I notice the air is filled with thousands of cotton-like flocks. They graciously dance up and down through the air carried by the breeze. No specific destination other then a little piece of fertile ground to start a new circle. It’s a hypnotising and magical sight.
Back in town, tired from the sun, we have dinner at a place where we are served our tapas by Hugo, a smart 34 year old medical lab technician drawn back to his family in this remote area after having studied and lived in bustling places like California and Prague. Returning to the Spanish countryside has meant the end of his medical career and he currently dreams about having his own restaurant one day. I find it hard to imagine. Even though I’m convinced that growing as a person entails much more than just having a career, tempering my ambitions to such an extend.. I couldn’t do it.
I realise now I wrote ‘tempering’, which is quite silly actually. Why does working in a restaurant mean tempering your ambitions? See.. I’m still stuck in old frames. Maybe it was the right thing to do for Hugo. What is ambitious isn’t something objective but depends on the stage of your personal development and as I said, such development entails much more than having a career. Maybe abandoning the long and lonesome lab days to spend more time with other people, including his girlfriend, was the most valuable and ambitious thing to do.
So anyway, we didn’t stay in this quiet commune and I’m writing this short account in mid-air while flying back to Amsterdam. Back to my last days at the Ministry and back to my search for new frontiers. I’ll keep walking a little longer and keep you posted!