22 March, 2007
12 March, 2007
This celebration is a reminder to me that one year ago, I sold most everything I own, dropped off my dog, my cat and the items I couldn’t bear to part with in Kansas (my mother says thankfully that I never had a child) and boarded a plane to Spain. In reflection I can’t believe a year has gone by…according to my birth certificate, I am a year older; according to my Masters Certificate of completions, I am smarter; according to myself, I have changed beyond recognition. Physically, I am the same (more or less); the changes are in my heart and soul. I am definitely not the person I was a year ago; and since I have met M, I am not the person I was a month ago. I see the world, specifically Spain, with new eyes. This 10 day festival the “Fiestas de la Magdalena” celebrates the relocation of the people from the mountains to the farmlands on the plain. "The history of Castellon de la Plana started in the desert mountain range, where there used to be an Arab castle which was conquered by James I in 1233. It's hard living conditions made the king grant a permission in 1251 to relocate the population to Benirabe farmstead on the plains where the current town is located. The Magdalena week ends when the queen of the fiestas shouts: "vitol" in front of a multitude of citizens gathered at Plaza Mayor."
Today as I walked the streets of Castellon and watched the numerous parades, I took a good look at the people. A year ago this festival was filled with partying, drinking and celebrating the newness of my surrounding. This year, I see the tradition, the culture, the families coming together. This year I am enjoying the “daytime” festivities and trying to comprehend the fact that many families can trace their roots back to the 1400’s. Pieces of ancient fort walls are still standing randomly in these towns as well as some towers and many castles (which I am still fascinated with…)
Instead of being disappointed when I didn’t get the job in D.C. I actually felt a big sense of relief. I had convinced myself that it was the right move for me, but when I knew I was going to continue to live in this country, things became really clear to me. It would have been a great job for my future, but working as a personal assistant AGAIN is not the way I want to get there. I want to use that as a “backup” like my “nannying”. I have skills and will use them when necessary, but I do not want to be a full-time assistant any more than I want to be a full-time nanny. Although I am working a fraction of the hours I did in the US, I am saving so much more money. My life is so simplistic it’s amazing. I am reminded of my roommate S who came into my life with, a couple of backpacks, a laptop and a set of golf clubs. I struggled once upon a time with the realization that “things” cannot make me happy but I continued to try and prove that theory wrong. Thousands of dollars in CC debt didn’t help me find meaning in my life. It didn’t make me “successful”, although to some I’m sure I appeared so. It only made me search harder….for what I didn’t know.
Now I realize I was searching for inner peace, something I have not found completely, but I do know I am well on my way to achieving just that. It’s like when a person can’t truly love another person until they truly love themselves; how can I strive for “world peace” when I have not achieved it internally? In the past year, I have begun the process of becoming aware of who I am; what I am capable of; and ultimately learning to let go. Let go of the control I continue to try to have on myself. It’s an extremely difficult process for me, but in order to move forward, I must not try so hard to control how I get there.
03 March, 2007
After class I rushed home from the train station to pack for the “camping” trip. It was a surprise for me, since I didn’t know where we were going, only that it would involve hiking in the mountains. My friend M picked me up at 3:30 and we proceeded to drive for about 1.5 hours away from the coast into the mountains. We ended up at Penagalosa, the highest point in the Castellon region. The little town was so quiet and beautiful. We walked around the town and then settled in a bar/restaurant and had a cortado tocado de bailey’s. An espresso with Bailey’s Irish Crème, yum. We just sat there for about 2 hours talking and just enjoying the atmosphere. We decided to stay there for dinner instead of going to another restaurant. M asked the waiter to prepare grilled vegetables and other food without meat, which the normal Spanish response is “a quizzical look, a suggestion of just a little ham and then a sigh when told , no”. The end result was (as it always is) amazing. First course a couple of eggs on a plate with a huge chunk of grilled fresh cheese and homemade bread with some wine. The next course was a plateful of various veggies (artichoke, asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms….) drizzled with olive oil and grilled to perfection. We ate relishing in the wonderful taste of these locally grown veggies and the beautiful presentation of such. After that there was the flan, which normally I pass on since it tends to taste way too sweet, but I was informed that we “have” to get it since it is made a special way by the restaurant and the waiter was obviously not going to take no for an answer. Since the man was forced to prepare us a dinner without his precious Spanish ham, I decided to allow him the pleasure of serving us his house speciality….and was I glad I did, it was indescribable and delicious with a low sweetness level.
After finishing the entire meal as well as the bottle of wine, I couldn’t have been more content. We walked around the town a little more looking for a place to have a final café before retiring for the night. There wasn’t any that could compare to what we just experienced, so we headed for the campgrounds…an old church/hostel, which used to be used by migrating Arabs on their pilgrimage to some holy place hundreds of years ago and at the stroke of midnight I had the pleasure of having "Cumpleaños Feliz" sung to me :-)