Three months in Spain and now suddenly I find myself home in Idaho, a state most citizen’s in Europe have never heard of and is best described as being between Seattle and Salt Lake City (or kind of near Las Vegas) to those who inquire. The transition come with the usual challenges like waking too early in the morning, greeting in the wrong language, or attempting to complete a transaction with Euros.
What was most remarkable was the shift of priorities during these three months. Living from one suitcase each, we learned that our wardrobe did not define us. A television with no English speaking channels provided a model of another way and the cable subscription at home is being jettisoned. Shopping for meals was a daily ritual given the proximity of local farmers markets and the desire to enjoy fresh bread from one of the neighborhood bakeries. Walking, more walking, and some more walking was a part of most days interrupted only by a trip on the metro or bus to get where we were headed.
What struck me most was the chance to revisit a museum or historic site and come to understand it a little more each time given the context of other places visited in the interim. Suddenly the emotional connection to one painting was enhanced because we had seen the sketch studies at another gallery. Then a trip to the town where the artist lived added context. Walking through a photography exhibit of the Spanish Civil War set the scene for the world events influencing the painter’s perspective. And seeing the architecture that dominated the city offered a sense of place. We would frequently walk past the Placa del Rei in Barcelona. The very courtyard that Christopher Columbus returned to Spain with his cargo of Native Americans to present to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. The gold that he unloaded as part of his bounty would ultimately adorn a cathedral in Toledo, Spain. We were seven thousand miles away from our home and yet its history was so closely tied to events that took place just blocks from our apartment. Perhaps the understanding of how interconnected the world has been and continues to be was made palpable. The sense of adding to our understanding was the joy of adventuring out each day. The ability to sit for an moment and absorb the presence of a place was a gift. Above all, the importance of daily discovery illuminated our journey.