The Rain in Spain… Falls Mainly in Salamanca
I have been back from my whirlwind, emphasis on wind trip to my dear España for nearly two weeks and finally I am sitting down to share some details. Even now my mind can barely focus on the task at hand before I am thinking about the lesson planning and grading I should be doing, the data I still have yet to analyze from a first semester grad school project, a new graduate class I am just starting that is totally outside the box for me (details to come), and my Camino, Part II that I need to be training for, among other things. Shoot! Back to Salamanca…
After my grand solo adventure last summer on the Camino, I may have been a little over confident about my ability to travel solo. Who was I kidding? I was really only solo an afternoon in Paris and a day in Madrid. My time to myself was nothing in comparison to the hours of walking and sipping wine in between bites of pinchos with my fellow peregrinos. Here is what I learned on my most recent trip to my second home: I can entertain myself for hours on end in the sun, but the rain is another story.
I had been dreamily anticipating my arrival to Salamanca, a university town brimming with youth, knowledge, and nightlife. I envisioned the ancient brick façades golden at sunset, and myself, Kindle in hand people watching in between chapters. I mean if Christopher Columbus and Miguel Cervantes walked these streets, it had to be cool, right?
The reality is that the rain and cold (and dreary hotel room) completely threw me off my game. I kid you not; I did three laps around the Plaza Mayor looking for the perfect spot to indulge in a glass bottle of wine where maybe someone would kindly talk to a lonely americana.
But alas, the optimist in me refuses to allow myself to remember a soggy rendition of Salamanca, so here’s a lovely little tale for you all straight from my journal (that I wrote in a café while a homeless-looking man hit on me).
It’s painful walking alone in the pouring rain. Here in Salamanca the rain hasn’t let up all day. I only have the cathedrals and cafés to take refuge in. My boots are soaked through and wet socks make each step awkward.
Desiring a different view of the city, I cross the Río Tormes, recalling the 16th century picaresque novel, Lazarillo de Tormes that I most likely read in English in one of my many Spanish lit classes. Between the torrents of rain and the gusts of early spring wind, my new vantage point on this puente romano, does little to brighten the dreariest of days. As I back track towards the centro, a devilish gust blows my umbrella inside out and nearly sends my lifeline to staying somewhat dry over the edge of the bridge. Karma for reading the novella in English? Perhaps.
I can’t sugarcoat it; I’m frustrated, freezing, and F-bombs are flying out of my save for occasional road rage, non-potty mouth. I need desperately for something to change my attitude.
And there, in my weakest moment, ripped apart by the strength of the Salamanca wind, a marking on the ground; The golden shell of the Camino Mozárabe or Vía de la Plata which begins in none other than my favorite city, Sevilla. Good ole Santiago, Patron Saint of Spain, back in my life.
Walking the Camino de Santiago, I came to believe, as all pilgrims do, that the Camino always provides. I must remind myself that on this “camino” of life the Camino will continue to provide.
I meander for some time through the cobblestone streets, dodging puddles of pity as best I can until the shell markings lead me to what seems to be a dead-end. I turn to my right to find the Albergue de Peregrinos and with that, a sense of “home” in Salamanca.
Across from the albergue, the leafy lattice of a garden beckons me to take a closer look. The garden shows signs of awakening from its winter slumber thanks to bucket upon bucket of water from above, but it’s the graffiti that captures my attention. I should really say heart though, for every non-living surface is thoughtfully covered with phrases like “Te adoro,” “Te quiero con locura,” “Eres la princesa de mis sueños,” and “Tú eres mi sonrisa.” Love lines all so much more romantic in Spanish.
I slowly savor every inch of the garden already in love with it. And with my solo paseo, I learn not to doubt that love is always there when I need it to be.
Thank you, Santiago, for showing me The Way.
Upon further investigation I learned I had divinely stumbled upon El Huerto de Calisto y Melibea, the garden where Calisto and Melibea, two lovers meet in Fernando de Rojas’ 1499 novel, La Celestina. Another great work of Spanish literature and one I most definitely read in castellano as I remember nothing of this garden. It still obviously attracts lovers who come together to write love notes to one another. Sigh.
And an end note, only a few copas in at a bar, I did end up meeting two fun American guys who teach in Abu Dhabi. A special thanks to Alex and Sam for keeping me company as we ate, drank, and got harassed by bar promoters, Vegas style.