I’ve been in a bit of a funk since my walk on the Camino ended. The days have rushed past in a flurry of meals and drinks and Facebook, phone conversations and trips to the grocery store and laundry. I feel like I’m on cruise control, wandering around without point and purpose. I hate feeling this way.
I’ve always found it interesting that the more I’m outside, moving around in the world, the more time slows for me. It seems like the secret to making life last longer is – be outside.
My days on the Camino were long and tiring. My feet hurt and my hips hurt. My shoulders were bruised from my backpack. Sitting was a luxury, not the status quo. I was outdoors from sunrise to sundown and the days stretched on forever. I’d walk 20-miles by 3 p.m. and still have time for washing and writing and socializing and cooking. I loved it. I’ve always loved it.
Now, I wake in whatever hotel room or apartment I am staying in and before I know it the day is over.
Brian and I have rented a car, a shiny blue Toyota. It’s so European: manual and compact. It has one of those long, rectangular license plates that I’ve always found so cool. We have a close friend here in Spain, one of my college girlfriends named Jordan, and she’s joined us on our road trip as often as her work schedule allows.
In the past two weeks we’ve driven all around Spain’s southern province of Andalusia, even parking overnight in Tarifa, a pretty town on Spain’s Mediterranean coast, and hopping a boat to Morocco to touch our feet for the first time on the continent of Africa.
Beautiful Tarifa, Spain
There on the dusty streets of Tangier, Morocco, we marveled at how incredibly different countries and cultures can be, though Spain and Morocco are only a 30-minute boat ride apart. We wandered the streets of the medina, the old walled city, where vendors dressed in djellabas (long, loose hooded garments with full sleeves) and balghas (soft leather slippers with no heel) sold pottery and leather satchels.
We ate a disappointing and overpriced meal, and then retreated back to our hotel room early to drink the red wine we’d smuggled into the dry country. We talked and laughed in our tiny rented room, the call to prayer echoing out over the city. It was the best part of the night.
Music in a bad Moroccan restaurant
In Sevilla, Brian and I visited the Cathedral where Christopher Columbus is buried, wondered arm and arm through historical gardens, and saw a Flamenco show from the upper balcony of a crumbling theater.
Inside the Sevilla Cathedral
In Cordoba, Jordan and I roamed through the ancient streets surrounding an old mosque and into the modern shopping district where we bought bracelets and hunted for the perfect pair of boots.
After-shopping wine in Cordoba
Otherwise, the three of us have been spending a lot of time at Jordan’s apartment in the small town of Cabra, drinking wine and watching old episodes of Modern Family while sitting cross-legged on the couch in our pajamas.
I’ve gone on runs through sheep pastures and olive farms and spent hours staring blankly at the computer screen, willing something to come from the middle of me out through my fingers.
And tomorrow Brian and I return our little blue car and catch a flight to Barcelona.
Through it all I’ve felt like I’m walking around in an astronaut’s suit, disconnected from the rest of the world. I feel uncreative and uninspired. The small details of everyday life, the little pearls of beauty that I love to find and polish, have been eluding me. The tiny, special things, which I normally take note of, seem hidden lately.
When I write, I start with one small thing. A few words will suddenly move through my head or I’ll see something simple but beautiful and I’ll be moved to write it down or photograph it. I’ll hear a quote or a song or meet a person that touches me, I can’t predict what it will be, and then I’ll build a story around it.
I suppose those are the days when inspiration strikes. It doesn’t always strike. Many days, like recently, writing is more like pulling teeth. It’s forced and I resent it. I whine like a kid when I sit down to do it.
Actually, those are the good days. The bad days are when I don’t sit down to write at all, like these past few weeks. Then I get far away from myself and I start feeling off.
It is Saturday morning here in Cabra and the sun is bright and shining. I have forced myself down at Jordan’s tiny kitchen table and I have written this. Already I feel the satisfaction of fighting through the troubled middle to get to the end. It isn’t pretty, but most endings aren’t.
Some days this is the best I can do.
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