I had fallen asleep at 10p.m. and I woke up at noon. Thinking I should be well past jet lag, I have come to believe that perhaps my body is catching up on much needed rest rather than feeling the lingering effects of an 8 hour time difference.
Once awake, I peeled myself out of bed, made a few necessary adjustments to my appearance and made my way to the cafe where I can be found most days as I write. The cafe is along the seashore, it has a large patio with outdoor seating and inside, tucked behind large panes of glass, the cafe offers comfortable seating, small round tables and a singular large table where a group of Norwegians happened to be seated on this particular afternoon. The atmosphere is part living, part bistro, with a few parodies of Americana thrown in to keep things interesting. Its name is L’Interdit.
Forgetting what time it was, I ordered breakfast. My server smiled and told me we were well past the hour for breakfast, I smiled back thinking to myself if only she knew I had now been up for a whopping 45 minutes. I ordered tostada de tomate y cafe con leche. Tostatda de tomate is my favorite breakfast item in Spain. Simply put it is grated tomato, with olive oil and salt on bread. I cannot tell you why I love it so much, but I most certainly do. And, cafe con leche, coffee with milk. Satisfaction.
I pulled out my computer to work when my friend Sara showed up. It was now near 1:30. She and I also met in 2013. She and her husband, David, pronounced Daveed, own a staple in Altea, a mojito bar called Altea Arte. I have been ruined for life by their mojitos and feel quite like a snob about it. I ordered one once in the states and was sorely disappointed. I think I’ve decided the mojito is meant only to be ordered when one of the Wilson’s makes it for me.
I liked Sara immediately. She is from California, married a Frenchman and they obviously purchased a bar in Spain. Sara and I usually only get to talk in the spare moments between orders as she works. During the summer months Altea is packed with people and Altea Arte is where they all hang out. But today, she and I had a hot beverage in our hands and were seated at a table inside while it poured rain beyond the paned glass.
It seemed like only minutes had passed when we saw the shop owner gathering tables and stacking chairs. Somehow 3 hours had gone by and it was closing time. It was so good to connect with a friend, to hear more of her story and to get out of my head the things that only a person in front of me can. I left feeling so thankful for a friend like her. She is kind, warm and kindred in spirit. She and David offer the most beautiful of hospitality and seek to create a space for the outsider to be an insider, I do believe they have done just that.
We said our good-byes and I was not yet ready to go home, so I found another place to sit for just a bit longer. Still not ready to go home, I wandered my way through the streets. I looked at the buildings, each white, often with vibrant green plants peeking from the balconies. The main streets seem straight for a few blocks, but soon either dead end or curve in directions that make no logical sense to me. And, though I have been here on three separate occasions and nearly half a year in months, I have not been able to figure out the system which created the street patterns, as other streets wind and dead end, with hills that put San Francisco to shame and narrowness that it seems quite questionable that they are roads at all. Miraculously though, cars and scooters make their way around these streets and somehow people find their way to their destinations.
I noticed a streak of pink in the sky and decided to would chase the color. I climbed stairs, ventured through alleys, veered this and that way and somehow stumbled upon a balcony that overlooked the city from the backside, looking away from the sea. Off in the distance in this direction there are mountains that line my view, clouds melted over the mountain tops while above, cumulus clouds made bold statements in the sky. Pink shot like an arrow through the clouds and I was in awe. Beauty does something to a person. It does something quite significant to me. Beauty is like soul CPR.
I think beauty actually is a universal language. The people who stopped to notice the sky were of every variety. The only thing in common was the direction of their gaze and the point of their finger and the smile which dawned each face. I found myself watching the people as much as I was watching the sky. Within time, the pink faded to blush, which faded to grey which blended in with the hues that also are found in the sea, blues, whites and grey layered the sky and outlined the mountains. I continued my walk.
My walk led me still further beyond the backside of the city then, as the sun disappeared behind the mountains, I turned around and headed back. In this direction I could see the blue dome and sandstone colored blocks of the cathedral. I walked by cafe’s, closed shops, more dogs walking their owners, a few dozen cats and only a few people. Altea seems so quiet. The square home to the towering cathedral was completely empty, not a person in site. (However I did see a number of cats.) The city sleeps and I was getting cold, so I hurried myself through streets, down stairs and in my home.
The day felt life giving, full of rest, connection, friendship, lingering, curiosity, beauty and life. I felt both delighted in and full of delight. I, of course, ended the day with a few questions to ponder; How long does it take for a soul to find rest? Is beauty a language of its own and does it point people to the Creator? Is beauty universal and might it be one of the only ways to adequately express the love of God for us? (Undeserved, awe inspiring, life altering and for seemingly no reason?) I pondered these things, texted with a few friends, listened to Janet Jackson as I made dinner, built a fire in wood burning stove and realized I felt awake. Awake to my senses, to my heart, to the world around me. While wide awake to life, I took a melatonin and fell fast asleep.