Good Day Sunshine

Church of Saint Mary in CadaquesOur bus driver negotiated another sharp turn, seemingly unconcerned with the law of physics, or the deep canyons plunging below us. I kept my eyes focused on a row of olive trees on a distant hill. I missed the stability of train rails below me – bombs or no bombs. On the hazy blue shoreline beyond, a cluster of whitewashed, red-tiled cottages came into view.

“There’s Cadeques kids.” Donna said excitedly. I was happy to know I was minutes away from getting off this wild mouse

This part of Spain – The Costa Brava region just south of the French border, reminded me of California – not so much the sun and terrain, but the fact that nobody looked at me funny when I kissed the sidewalk once we got off the bus. I needed a men’s room, and quick, but the single bench sitting atop the sidewalk was the entirety of the bus station, so I appeared to be SOL. Across the parking lot was the marina, where I hoped to find a place to suit my needs at hand.

“I’ll be over here” Donna said, pointing to a large wooden sign with a map of the village. When I got back, she was talking to a small man that wore a nylon jacket and tan pants. He was handing her a slip of paper when I walked up. “We’ll let you know” Donna said, then he nodded his head and walked away.

“Our hotel is this way” Donna lead the way up a cobbled street.

“Who was that?”

“He has an apartment for rent”

I adjusted my pack. “Apartment?”  I repeated, “How long do you plan to stay here?”

“Who knows? Are you in a hurry to get back on that bus?”

* * *

The kids got their own hotel room. I dropped my pack in the corner then plunged myself down on the bed. I heard music from the other side of the wall. Damn MTV.

“Jeffery, come out here” I joined Donna on the small balcony. Tiny buildings were clustered on the green hills. Atop them white clouds rested under brilliant blue. Below us, people strolled along the cobble streets.

“Let’s go see the beach”

We pried the kids from the TV and pointed their heads toward the door. Outside, we picked the nearest alley and suddenly the cove appeared. Sunglasses, shorts, and sandals were aplenty along the crowded sidewalks. It felt like the first day of spring. We passed a row of wooden tables where people chatted and enjoyed beer in the afternoon sun. A kid on a motor scooter whizzed by, barely missing us. Another whizzed by.

A slate path along the cove promised a pleasant stride along the beach. We ended up near a cluster of boutique shops. I flipped through a rack of postcards outside one place and studied a painting of the village with the water in the foreground. It was the same view from where we stood.

“Guess who painted this?”

I had no takers.

“Salvador Dali”.

“That guy’s weird” Alex said.

“Not too loud Alex” Donna warned. “He lived here”

We continued down our path and stumbled across a small stretch of sand in front of a vacant resort. A handful of people waded at the shore. Jill shed her sandals, rolled up her jeans and joined them. Alex and Chris found a stone bridge leading out to a small island. Donna and I took a seat on a big slab of slate. Man, this felt good.

Hunger pangs lead us back to the main part of the village where several canopied cafes lined the main street. We walked by and peeked at what people were eating. A pizza covered with grilled squid caught my eye.

We picked an outside table near the sidewalk which offered a nice view of the street and beach. Chris began to reminisce about our favorite ice cream shop in Palm Springs and how this place reminded him of that. I had to really struggle to hear him over the buzz of the motor scooters – especially one revving up near our table. I looked over to see the offending scooter had been flipped over and the rear wheel was converted into a grinding stone. A man stood there smiling ear to ear, smoking a cigarette and sharpening knives. A car stopped in the middle of the street and a woman popped out wielding a huge knife. The two bantered back and forth while traffic backed up.

“Can’t get entertainment like this back home, can you kids?.”

* * *

As the kids critiqued Spanish television, Donna and I took some precious quiet time. She sat on bed with a travel guide and I drew a bath. The warm water felt heavenly. It was nice to be alone for a change. I used my foot to turn the handle. Hot water drizzled out and the room filled with steam except for a bit of cool air fighting its way down from the window. I considered staying in the tub all night. A vacation from this vacation was probably what I needed. This little village, nestled along at the base of these hills, seemed safe – like a hiding place. For the first time we had no plans, no people to visit, no responsibilities. My greatest worry was how to reach the bar of soap on the sink. Traveling from place to place was starting to feel like a pain in the ass. There was getting up early, packing, lugging our packs to the train station, securing reservations, finding storage on the train for our packs, dealing with conductors, transferring mid trip, dealing with layovers, running through train stations trying to catch the next train, the constant worry of missing a connection, orienting ourselves to a new place, finding accommodations, freaking out that our credit card might not work, dealing with kids fighting over beds, unpacking.

Then doing it all over again.

The tub drained and I grabbed an oversized towel. I pulled on just enough clothes to be decent. Donna was still reading her book.

“Guess who liked to come here?”  She sang flipping through the pages. “The Beatles.”

“Oh yeah?” I sat down on the end of the bed.

“This is quite the artist’s colony. Even Picasso painted here.”

“Hmmm.”

“Jeffery, I’d like to stay here for a week” A moment of silence drifted by. She looked at me for a response.

It took me all of three seconds to respond. “Why not?”

NEXT:Nabbing a Bit of Home in Spain

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