Primero: Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Promise to fix that…tonight. Prepare for an onslaught of blog posts the likes of which you’ve never seen (well, actually you most likely have–but the dramatic phrasing seemed necessary).
Segundo: The post.
Ok, so let me preface this by saying I’m having preemptive separation anxiety from my adopted country and find myself wistfully saying “I’m going to miss this so much” once or more per day. I know. I haven’t even left yet and I’m already missing the place. In my defense, I am now doing my best to cherish and savor every one of these last moments I have here, which sometimes one tends not to do until they have a mere week or a few days left in a place. So for these last two and half months, I’m going to be doing a lot of enjoying of all this lovely country has to offer (more than usual, I think). I know…rough life.
Step one of “Mission: Appreciate Spain” — re-develop that wonder-filled, starry-eyed awareness of a beautiful moment while you’re in it. Check. Moment in question? What I would call a “muy típico” (very typical) Spanish moment, from what I have seen of Spanish culture thus far: sitting outside a cafe, just drinking in the moment (and a cafe con leche) and enjoying a beautiful evening. Let me illuminate…and sadly this one moment I wanted to capture so badly in a photo, I didn’t have my camera on me, so words will just have to do.
The scene: sitting at a table outside a cafe in the Plaza Mercado, a very popular square in old-town Logroño. It’s early evening, but with spring fully arrived and the time change just….a’changed, the sun is still shining enough to make the cathedral’s facade glow against the bluer-than-blue sky, as well as stretch the shadows of the people walking by (rhyme non-intended). And yes, it happens to be THAT cathedral, yes, that one where a certain someone got down on one knee in front of our friends and the whole plaza. And lucky for me, I have that someone sitting across from me, busily engaged booking hostels for our upcoming trip on his laptop and sipping on an espresso (cafe solo, as it’s ordered here). The air is a perfect cool-but-comfortable temp, just right for sipping a hot drink but that still makes you want to linger outside. The plaza is milling with people of all ages eager as I am to take in the last of the days lovely weather.
The soundtrack? A street performer strumming a tune out on his guitar at a nearby cafe mixed with the lively chatting of the paseo-takers. Paseo-ers. Paseo-adores. Pase-what, you might ask? Paseo. The evening walk taken by what seems like every man, woman, child and dog in our city, if not everywhere in Spain. The purpose? Any Spaniard would probably be offended at such a question. Why indeed would one need (or wonder about) the purpose of such a normal activity? But this is my favorite part about the moment I’m in. Watching this so authentically-Spanish tradition….the darling little older ladies walking arm in arm in their Sunday best (which until just recently was fur coats) or with their equally cute older man counter-part in his hat and cane (the latter purely for aesthetic/style purposes in many cases); the young-and-in-love ones holding hands and looking more at each other than their destination; the families with giggling/snoozing/cooing-child-filled strollers (these make up about 1 in 3 if not more); the occasional weather-worn, backpack-&-walking-stick-sporting pilgrim (a walk/bike/ride -er of the famous Camino del Santiago whose path runs through Logroño) and finally, the multitudes of dogs walking their masters (or the reverse? It’s hard to tell sometimes) from the tiniest of tea-cup types to the giant fluffy German shepherds…while often wearing the most surprising collection of dog clothing–from rain ponchos to sweaters to hoodies. And the crescendo to this lovely reverie? The bells of the cathedral, swinging their little bell hearts out for what must be only the pleasure of the people in the plaza.
Needless to say, it is a lovely hour or so of sipping on my drink and simply relishing this moment of perfection. I once came across the phrase “il dolce far niente” or “the sweetness of doing nothing” in a book….supposedly a beloved Italian mantra, and I think the Spanish must surely subscribe to the same dogma. There is an art, of which many Americans (myself often included) cannot quite achieve and/or understand, of simply enjoying moments of sweet, perfect not-doing-anything-ness. It’s something I admire about Spanish culture and aspire to be able to do. Anyway. You get the picture, I hope.