From previous posts, some readers may have deduced that I have had a lifelong love affair with Spain. Beginning in high school and college and affirmed beyond a doubt in the year that I spent in Madrid as a student, Spain has been and forever will be a part of me. It has been my good fortune to return to my love several times during my life, and each time I am there, my heart races with passion as I feel embraced by the people and their culture. I was told by Spanish friends in the late 60’s that one always said farewell to the fountain of La Cibeles upon leaving Spain, because doing so meant that you would again visit Madrid. Not knowing if this is a folk legend, or something that my friends made up for my benefit, I still dutifully follow the custom each time I visit to ensure my return. In addition, my hija española (Spanish daughter) cautioned me not to count the lions in the Plaza de la Universidad in her home city of Valladolid, because doing so would mean I would not return to the city. Once again, I will always comply, no matter how hard it is not to count them. Now in my seventies, thinking about returning to my beloved España fills me with morriña, which is the Galician word for homesickness that is used throughout the country.
In the last few years my beloved Spain has competition in terms of my affections. Our family traveled to Ireland about five years ago and never did I think that I could fall in love with a country as quickly as happened there. From the moment we landed and left Dublin for Newgrange and Knowth – ancient burial sites with passage tombs – I was struck with how comfortable it was to be there. Perhaps it was the Irish expression, Céad míle fáilte, “a thousand welcomes,” which one sees throughout the country. Perhaps it was something akin to Jung’s collective unconscious, as echoes of the Irish ditties my grandmother used to sing to me rang so true in my ears and I sensed a deep connection with the land. Perhaps it was how wrapped in warmth we were when spending the first night in the town of – you guessed it – Navan. We all felt it – the magic and mystery of Eire. The entire trip, filled with castles and cliffs, pubs and pints, was full of good Irish craic (fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation).
On our second trip, my husband and I stayed in a thatched roof Connemara cottage not far from Quiet Man Bridge, made famous in the film, The Quiet Man. Though we spent each day touring different parts of western Ireland, my favorite part of the day was enjoying the late afternoon sun coming through the window of the cottage as I wrote in my journal with the tang of the peat fire wafting from the parlour. We both had the sense of “coming home” and imagined what it would be like to live in such a setting.
When will we return? Although we have no specific plans, of this I am sure, I WILL return to my newfound love.
I is for Ireland.
Photo ~ Glendalough by Alejandro Escario Mendez on Flicker (https://goo.gl/DKZFhn). (CC BY-NC 2.0).
Photo of Madrid by Nicolas Vigier on Flckr (https://goo.gl/dylgTj). Public Domain.
This post is part of the Blogging from A to Z (2016) Challenge. Click here. to see all of the blogs in the A to Z Challenge