Thursday, July 09, 2009

Live Strong Barcelona

The Tour de France is riding through town today. We crossed paths with Lance's support crew while driving to Barcelona from Avignon. They stopped in Montpellier. There was a small parade of black cars with bright yellow graphics: Just Do It and of course Live Strong! This will not be TDF's first time in Catalunya... it seems the race came through here 44 years ago.

It is raining today... should be interesting to see how this affects the ride. As for us, we are enjoying the thunder and big drops and splashes. In this Internet cafe we are staying dry and comfortable. Yesterday we walked and saw a lot, so I don't feel as disappointed about being indoors today.

We walked up Las Ramblas and to Placa Catalunya, then Casa Amatllr and Casa Batllo. We continued our walk all the way to Sagrada Familia, which was breathtaking in the twilight. Maria made friends in the park, and everyone rested a bit before the next walk to the Metro... we rode linea La Pau back to our Barrio near Jaume 1.

Our journey is nearing its own finish line. Tomorrow is our last day in Catalunya, and our last day in London will mostly be occupied with airport security and hurrying up to wait. If the rain eases I imagine we will squeeze in more sightseeing and long walks, otherwise we will concentrate on reorganizing and reflecting on all that has passed. On home and on another passage.

It has not always been easy to post and it's even more challenging to get the photos in here. You should know that the silent partner, Geoff, really keeps the blogging going when technical obstacles slow me down, so I owe him much gratitude. I am also thankful for all the commments, for new readers, and for old friends too. It has been wonderful sharing points of view, getting tips, hearing encouragement... the interaction in blogging is a favorite aspect. Thank you.

Where does the rain go? Here in the very old gothic barrio all is walls and ancient paved alleys, and I wonder where all the water will flow. To the Mediterranean, I suppose. We should go there. We should go to Parc Guell and... where does the time go? Rain and time, dropping and slipping away, pattering on the stones. It is good to have this time to reflect and be thankful. To remember where we have been and to ponder what comes next.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Maturity is Overrated

We are in Switzerland. I do not want to leave Switzerland. I think I could stay here forever. Maybe even through winter. Specifically, I could stay in Ballenberg forever. When we came across this open air museum in a book and then visited the website, I was instantly taken... maybe a pinch skeptical. Watch their hypnotic video, like we did and you may be skeptical too. How can a place be this lovely?

If you need the rush of city sights and easy access to subways, then you may not appreciate Ballenberg the way I do. If the smell of pine and the sound of cow bells ringing in flower filled meadows is not appealing then please excuse me... I loved the Swiss Open Air Museum it makes me tearful to recall, to accept that we could not stay all day, to come to terms with having to leave at all.

Max, Maria and I climbed aboard a horse drawn wagon when we entered the museum. Geoff, William and Alex chose to walk. The horses wore bells that jingled rhythmically with every clip-clop of the horses hooves, and this made the merry tune we listened to as we rode through forest, around gardens, passed the oldest standing house in Switzerland, by barns and turkeys, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, cows. Each area within the museum park represents a unique region in Switzerland and features crafts, and trades, animals and architecture of that cultural area. The houses are appointed with either demonstrations of work, like basket weaving, pottery and blacksmithing, or activities for children, or displays illustrating different topics like conservation or history.

Everything is active and interactive and a living, working and playing world for people to explore nature, history, culture, farm life, agriculture... or just enjoy a beautiful hike.

I think we saw about 25% of it. Once again we were on a time budget, otherwise we could have easily stayed the whole day. One park had fire rings and available wood, so that some families were cooking their lunches. Alex pointed out that one spot held my Trinity of Joy: chickens, goats and bunnies... frolicking together in the same lovely yard, with a charming little house. Everywhere we looked there was something to delight the senses and engage the mind.


Sometimes writing is frustrating. I seldom feel as though I am really tapping into the core of my deep thoughts, actually saying things the way I want to say them. Not for lack of trying. This is particularly disappointing to me at this time. I cannot sing and I have always believed if I could sing, if I could hit the right notes and carry a tune, then people would hear and understand me. I am not a skilled artist. There are scenes and images and concepts that stay locked up inside me, because they never appear on paper or in clay, the way they do in my mind. There was so much at Ballenberg that struck a chord with me, that moved me and made me happy, that it was like a tangible manifestation of every song I cannot sing, of every poem I cannot write, of every painting in my mind. It was the corners and windows, the winding paths and garden beds of my dreams. I want to recreate it in words, then paint it in pictures. I want to share the melody of it, that I can hear and feel. I want what was expressed there to be a part of my life and what I achieve and live with and demonstrate. It is the strangest sensation to feel so attached to a place, and having to accept that it is not a part of me.

I know it is a re-creation... a genuine place, but not entirely real. And maybe I should not try to explain myself or describe how dear goats and chickens and bunnies are, together eating hay, while baby pigs shuffle in straw, and houses stand open and welcoming, with flowers and pear trees and swept porches... maybe it's sacred, to me. Maybe I should just let it be.

Maturity helped me leave without crying and whining.
Maturity can be hard.