An account by an anxious Australian tourist of village life in Andalucia Spain
So here we were sitting in the living space of our cottage staring at each other. The cottage itself was charming. A low set white washed Spanish villa with a kitchen well stocked with cooking implements (one of our essential requirements) and two small but beautifully appointed bedrooms. The living area opened onto a small garden and a swimming pool. Luckily the view of the abandoned development site over the road was obscured by a mature fig tree. Around the pool was a passion fruit vine, another mature fig tree laden with early fruit and a series of wire clothes lines criss-crossing the yard and covered in a creeping vine covered in young grapes. Rosemary grew wild in a sunny corner, a rose bush in full bloom shared another corner with a lavender bush. Sounds idyllic but I was still unnerved. The two weeks ahead lay stretched out before me like a highway going nowhere.
I reassured myself that my anxiety was not unusual. Change of job, change of house, change of plans – change of underwear I can cope with though I have been known to procrastinate in this area. My natural inclination was to get stressed by change and uncertainty. I identified with the author of the book I was reading as travel company. He had decided to walk the Santiago pilgrims walk from Granada and at the age of 65 and as an inexperienced walker, after two days on the trail he was wondering what had possessed him to imagine that having arrived in Spain with little local language, a 25 kilogram backpack, a map and an idea everything would fall into place. His feet were blistered,his pack was unwieldy and he was lonely.
I was not lonely or blistered, just uncertain. My challenge was to transition from tourist to traveler. To shift from observer of the exotic to participant in the ordinary. Niguelas was ordinary. Ordinary Spanish rural people living ordinary daily lives. I knew that my task was to allow this experience to unfold. I would need to be patient and allow the village to reveal itself to me. The embrace needed to be mutual.