a day in santiago



♥  all that air has brought me here. i am loving life today! it is one of those days where just about everything seems like it is flowing. i must be doing something right because i feel like i have finally landed and that at last i am clear in the understanding that beautiful days like today will come, but only after i have paid the price of staying. having landed, i am now driving along a sparsely lit night time road, hypnotised by the eternal moment of watching the same white painted lines flickering past again and again, in and out of the darkness. i can only see a little way in front, but still i feel safe. at this moment, the white lines teach me that the destination doesn’t necessarily matter. that actually, there is no destination, just white painted lines.

certain things happened today to release me into this feeling. i had a lovely time with my classes this morning, relaxing in the luxury of just being myself. gerry and i ate an amazing lunch at maria castaña, then we drove to gondomar and hung out. there was, of course, a lot of piss-taking and laughing……then i spent a quiet evening at home, listening to music. now i am here, on the red couch, writing this for you. perfect. a long time ago, whenever i felt the flow like i do today, i would almost always feel guilty. it was almost as if there were only a finite amount of happiness in the world, and if i felt happy then someone else out there would suffer for it, and that someone would be me. where did i learn this system of checks and balances? i suppose it is no longer important to know “why” i used to feel this way, i am just glad that that particular passenger has gotten off, because i always used to feel as if i had to pay some sort of weird happiness tax to the little bastard if i was enjoying myself. i can be my own worst taskmaster.

the landing is happening first and foremost through the eyes. it all begins to look familiar now. i am getting to know the sneaky little side streets of the old town, and when i walk past restaurants, i am beginning to get a feel for which ones are worth going to and which ones aren’t. i know to go to maria castaña on a tuesday and that i should always order from the specials board. there has been time to discover places like el “hotelito”, with its hidden secret garden where you can sit for hours under the trees and drink coffee. i know what to expect when i turn corners on the street, and for this reason google maps has been retired (for the moment). there is now an awareness of where a particular woman, who looks like she might have a serious drug problem, hangs out asking for loose change. i will also know where to look for the guy who stands on the street juggling, always smiling when i walk past. i now know where to go to buy bread, cheese, dried goods, and where the central markets are. i walk carefully along the slippery stoney streets, watching the cracks, conscious of the uneven surface. i know to look up and appreciate the blue sky, when it is there. i no longer stand on that same street and gawk as the tourist road train drives past, simply because it has now become just another part of the landscape (there was one in ourense too! is this a galician phenomenon?). i have fallen in love with this place through the eyes, the now-familiar images of this place will stay with me, tethered to that special place in my memories alongside experiences of life in japan, italy, madrid, greece, germany…….

…and the sounds, there are the hours of music that i now have time to listen to, and the fact that every time i am approaching the cathedral, i feel a sense of comfort when i hear the “gaitas” playing. i enjoy how as soon as i start hearing them my ears talk to my feet and suddenly i feel lighter because its’ joyousness reminds me why i decided to stay in the first place. i love the fact that under one of the windows of my apartment there is a bench where on an almost daily basis the old folks who live around here will congregate to gossip, while across the street i can hear the sounds of children in the playground in the park. and the hum of the throngs of people moving like ants through the old town that is kept at bay by the gentle trickling sounds of water fountains and the rustling of trees conversing with the breeze.

…and the tastes…you knew i was coming to this, right? oh god. i have discovered flan de queixo do cebreiro. how is it that i have lived 46 years on this planet and not known that you can marry flan with cheese?  upon enquiry, i have learned that while the flan part is just regular old flan, apparently this “cheese” is produced in a village in galicia and is sourced from prized cows that roam free in deep green pastures, occasionally munching on wild lavender whilst listening to mozart (ok, that last bit is rubbish, but you know what i mean). so now i need to find a dupe for this miraculous and highly specific cheese that will be impossible to source once i leave galicia. this means experimentation in the kitchen, which i very much look forward to. maybe when peter comes to visit hopefully next month…i am getting a lot of pleasure out of going to the market and trying to navigate the intimidation that i feel when dealing with fishmongers who can clearly spot a rookie (me) from a mile away. seventh heaven at the moment is visiting the market, walking home and spending time in the kitchen, landing via music AND cooking. i think on some level i feel that when i am cooking with food here, i am also somehow engaging with the abundance of everything that is typical of this place. rain, fertile earth, and hospitality and generosity. basically, everything comes together to make you want to get into that kitchen and cook/share/eat. there have thus been some great, long lunches in that kitchen with gerry and sabela and various visitors, always spreading out to the living room, extending into the evening…

…and touch and smell….. the sensations of wet stoney streets underfoot and the soft carpet of newly fallen leaves on the pathway in the park near where i live. and then there is this prickly red couch where i sit that does such a good job of poking and prodding thoughts and laughter. writing. the feel of the paper on my sketch pad that i now have time to play with and that stupid ink pen that keeps staining everything, including my fingers…

while i am on the topic of staying……i’m leaving! for a couple of weeks. i will spend a few days with peter in madrid, catch up with cesar and silvia, then go to soria with peter for a gathering out in the countryside with some friends. after that i am heading up to meet jenny in burgos and will walk with her on the camino frances for a few days. a month ago, i was still flying the whirlwind, not sure of where exactly i was landing. however, i now experience the feeling that there is a life here in santiago waiting for me to come back to. i feel as if for now, it is home………


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