It's about linking the little things we see everyday with the big world we live in. The real payoff comes when the pieces are put together. You start to see the mosaic...
A few minutes after we boarded our flight to Barcelona, the flight attendant came by to tell us that Lizzie and the cats were safely loaded. With a sigh of relief we were good to go. Eight hours or so later seven of us disembarked to begin our European sojourn.
Today, five years later, our Spanish residence visas have just expired and we decided not to renew them. Now that we are both septuagenarians, we are ready for something else.
So much has happened in the interval, both happy and sad. One by one we said goodbye to each member of our companion animal family as age overtook them. On the other hand, we formed a remarkably deep and meaningful relationship with a very special couple we met soon after we arrived in Valencia.
We’ve personally experienced Spanish culture, its pros and cons, in its cities and villages. The rhythms of daily life in a tiny Andalucian village - harvesting olives, gathering chestnuts, an Alpujarran Christmas - contrast with the quick tempo of city crowds and urban ways of Valencia in our memories. We’ve lived through emotional highs and lows in ways that were only possible because we were there long enough to notice, to adapt, even to belong.
After two years of continuous travel, our appreciation of the public transportation systems of western Europe is both positive and well tested. We’ve experienced the sights and sounds of cities, towns and villages, mountains and monuments, orchards and vineyards, forests and fields. We felt intimately the ever changing rhythms and tempos as we crossed language and cultural gradients in ways that two kids from the American Midwest never imagined when we were growing up.
Almost every day, one or the other of us will mention how fortunate our lives have been.
You see, last night it occurred to me, I thought, well, the thing is, all this traveling and seeing things is fine but there’s also a lot of fun to be had from having been. You know, sticking all your pictures in a book and remembering things... The important thing about having lots of things to remember is that you’ve got to go somewhere afterward where you can remember them, you see? You’ve got to stop. You haven’t really been anywhere until you’ve got back home.
... we face the prospect of living through the 70s (again). This time with less hard rock and more hard effort just to keep healthy and active. One clue that things have changed is our new approach to “sustainable travel” – in order to sustain our ability to travel, we always remember to use the handrail. Time is beginning to tell.
We’d like to settle in for a time, put down some roots - literally -- grow a garden, find that place we can call home. Give our Samsonits a rest.
Ahh, but not quite yet.
We imagine spending the next few months transitioning back into the English speaking world. Ireland and the United Kingdom are on the horizon.
Jamie wants “life on gentle cycle” to be a story of enough rather than a search for more. His focus is on simplicity, quiet presence, low impact travel, and mostly on living gently. He also manages the technical aspects of GentleCycle.net