The early morning sound of neighbours calling across the alleyway wakes me. I lie still for a while soaking the moment in, wooden shutters tightly closed, the room in complete darkness. Soon enough the church bells chime seven and I marvel at sleeping late, comfy in my cosy cocoon. I feel a sense of longing as I reflect on our time here, my heart aching at the thought of leaving this village—these people.
We arrived here in the heat of September when the afternoons were still too hot to venture out, when the sound of cicadas rang through the olive groves on early evening walks, and when early morning swims in the nearby spring-fed pool were a refreshing break from the heat rather than fresh.
From sandals to pumps, shorts to jeans, we have walked these hills the past six weeks, passing the old guy who, every morning makes his way to sit outside the village bar and watch the world go by and who now finally — after daily perseverance from us — willingly gives us a smile and wave. We have got to know the dogs who chase their owner down to the goats and will now detour from their route to come for a fuss. We have exchanged hugs and letters with the baker lady, whose warmth and kindness leaps all boundaries of language. And we have said goodbye to our darling dog, Milla, as she chose this pueblo to be her final resting place after 17 1/2 years as our faithful travelling companion.
From late summer to autumn, from heat to an increasingly crisp chill, from one life chapter to the next, we have both absorbed and been absorbed back into the slow rhythms of daily life in this Andalucian village that we hold so dear.
I feel bereft at the thought of leaving.
And yet, the road calls. The North calls. And so amidst the morning routines of local banter, beneath the bluest of skies, and to the backdrop of mountains I know we will ache for until we see them again, we methodically pack up our van.
A neighbour thrusts litres of local olive oil into our arms and we hug, kiss, and say adiós to another group of people who have become special to us since our first visit fifteen years ago and, hearts heavy, eyes dewy, we make our way out of this special village and back onto the road that stretches out ahead yet, with each bend, calls us to return. But soon enough we feel the slow release of its grip as industry and bright lights begin to rise up and before long our safe enclave becomes a distant memory as we park up for the night in central Spain.
The next morning we wake early to city runners, shift workers, and the repetitive yet comforting sound of trams and, with a light breakfast inside us, prepare for the next leg which, within just a couple of short hours brings us to the Pyrenees. The landscape begins to change before our eyes and there is a dampness in the air and for a moment I long for the dryness of Andalucia but then…red, brown, orange, yellow, gold, a cacophony of colour-sounds crowd my mind and I am lost in the music as it swirls and dances, building to a crescendo that makes my heart pause before, at the peak, it begins its slow descent into calmness.
I stare out of the window in serene stillness at this autumnal landscape that fires up both the mountains and my soul, and I am grateful. Grateful for the places, the people, the ability to sink deep into the landscape and feel that I belong. Feel that I am part of nature and that, just like the leaves of a tree, or the rain, or perhaps flower seeds, flickers of me float and spread — carried on the wind, — coming to rest here and there, in a world without boundaries. I am overwhelmed with a sense of wistfulness and know that as much as I will miss Andalucia, there is more to come that will, equally, capture my heart.
That night we settle in the mountains, first saying prayers in a church and collecting holy water to take on our onward journey; a journey I am both apprehensive and excited about. A journey not just of landscape but of life and yet, this leaving and arriving has reminded me that the two are inexplicably entwined and that I am to simply give myself over, shifting with the sureness of a flowing river, knowing I am right where I am meant to be.
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