Comienza la aventura

Once upon a time I spent a day in a coaching workshop. One of the activities was a visualization exercise, the ostensible goal being to see your ideal place / life / whatever.  Something trivial.  You know, just take a couple minutes and casually map out out your own utopia.

We were sitting in a London flat, a room full of (mostly) strangers, and the moderator told us to close your eyes, focus on your breath, and then imagine your body floating up out the room, into the sky, above London (try no to think of the East Enders splash screen),  then into the stratosphere and all the way into outer space.  Imagine yourself looking down at the planet.

I saw so much water. All that blue covering a tiny little sphere suspended in the cosmos.

We then had to float back down and see where we had landed.

I was on a beach, nowhere I’d ever seen. So peaceful. I could see the rippled white blanket of the ocean floor spread out beneath the clear, aquamarine sea.  The sand warming the soles of my feet; I must have lost my shoes on re-entry.

I walked through the clearing in trees up ahead and sound myself in a house I’d never been in before but immediately recognized as home.  Wooden floors, a couple of sofas and a pair of overstuffed chairs in a semi-circle, all facing a stone fireplace that was flanked by shelves filled with journals and books – some I knew well and others that invited me to open them up and see what adventures and histories their pages had to share.   Pictures of family and friends hung on the walls, as well as artwork picked up from all over the world. Places I know I’d already visited and others seemed to be gifts from those who’d traveled to stay in my house.

Memories of life I hadn’t quite lived yet.

And, in the middle of the visualization, I was struck by the smell of freshly baked bread and somehow knew that there was homemade soup simmering in the well-lit kitchen that I hadn’t yet walked into.

Behind the house was yard with a pool, and behind that … not so close that you could walk, but no so far that it’d take more than an hour or so to get there, were mountains reaching up into the clear blue sky.

A house on the beach with mountains not to far away.

I had no idea where it was, but I knew it was sanctuary.


I woke up this morning, on Day 2 of my aventura, and I could smell bread baking.  E, my way-too-gracious/generous hostess, has a machine that she fills most every night with flour, water, oil and yeast.  She flicks a few buttons, sets a timer and, while the house dreams away, the magic begins.

Steam rises from the loaf as she slices through the crust.   She places a slab on a plate for me and I follow her lead:  drizzle the most amazing Spanish olive oil across the bread, and eat it with slices of Iberian jamon so thin they’re nearly translucent as well as pieces of a mildly nutty goat cheese the likes of which I’ve never tasted.  A demitasse of coffee with a freshly-squeezed orange juice back.   Behind her, on the stove, sits a giant pot of soup that her daughter had made the night before.

A half hour after I eat, I walk ten minutes up the hill (some call it a mountain), into a park and find a bench amidst the trees to sit down and soak in the view. The city (it’s called The Enchantress in the book I’m reading), sprawls out in front of me for a few miles, aproned by the Mediterranean Sea.  Hills rise behind me and to my left.

Through a gap in the trees I see the Monastery we visited yesterday afternoon, impossibly tall and spacious on the inside (it makes the Tardis look like a toy), with the most stunning stained glass filtering in the afternoon light.  E sat down for a bit to take in all in (“it’s spiritual without feeling too religious,” she later told us) while A Googled some of its history (the 14th century Queen consort of Aragon’s tomb is in the front of the chapel).

I was drawn to the antechamber, where a half-dozen ancient nuns (who may well have been Queen Elisenda’s ladies in waiting) were sitting in silence, not really doing much of anything; fleshy, (apparently) breathing mannequins swathed in gray habits.  I was kind of hoping they were waiting to hand out  bingo cards, but this was not my dad’s Catholic church — no, it’s an inspiring example of Gothic Catalan architecture at the base of a park on the side of a hill, looking over the city on the sea.

A city that is completely enchanting me, where I’m never further than a short trip to the beach or the (almost) mountains. Staying in a house that smells of bread and soup that I’m so very grateful to have as temporary home while I begin this adventure.

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