Hello! It’s me, Leelee. I’m so happy to return to blog land. I am excited to catch up and pen my leelee moments as I feel and see them. Truly, I’ve missed you! Pandemically and poetically. Life seems to be returning to a new normal with far less restrictions and rules in the USA. Europe, is still extremely cautious, uber diligent about masks (surgical or N95)the only exception of No mask, but, only when eating! They are happy to oblige. Health is most important. Covid in this small quaint college town was very low. As the temperatures began to rise, the mask rule did not waiver! The rate of vaccination is much slower in Spain. No one ever complained or didn’t comply. It was quite humbling for a New Yorker!
I hope this beautiful, sunshiney day brings a peace and smile to your heart. I write this with so much oooomph! So much emotion and a bit of good ole jet lag. Hola, & Buenos Dias from Spain! I quite enjoyed learning a bit of Spanish prior to me living there for two months. I practiced everyday and felt confident that I could communicate my wants and needs, and find my way around in Santiago de Compostela. Well, I was wrong. Learning and speaking a new language takes years of practice. Also, living in that country helps and listening to the different dialects. Honestly, I was in southern Spain, close to Portugal and many are Galician. It’s a mix of Portuguese and Spanish. I was fascinated to learn about it and the history of St. James. Spiritually, learning about Santiago and it’s roots, moved me. It is said and believed that St. James is buried there. They certainly love and worship their God and their faith in him. Churches and church bells are everywhere. I tried to visit every one of them. I was again moved and in awe. Immaculate, clean and lovingly restored. History, wars and politics. Spain is full of it. Santiago certainly has amazing history and a story. It dates back to early 1700’s. The city center is one of the most clean, organic, historic and spiritually beautiful places I have explored and instantly fell in love with all of it. The Cathedral Santiago de Compostela is breathtaking, pristine. I couldn’t stop photographing it, over and over. I toured a few museums (for 1 or 2 Euro’s to enter). I simply couldn’t get enough. The artifacts, sculptures, tombs, saints and glowing, sparkling gold everywhere, many beautiful, sculpted angels in abundance! Just mesmerizing. I strolled around daily and walked the quaint blocks for hours and hours. I never grew tired. I absorbed the culture, the cafe’s, outdoor markets, I sampled all delicacies from Galicia & Spain. I found my favorite cafe’s and little bakeries with their famous Galician almond torte and portuguese custard pastries. I adapted to living in calmness easily. Peace.. was simply abundant, everyday. No horns blaring no yelling, fighting, no anger or hostility. I never saw any areas of sick and addicted. I was fascinated by that. I enjoyed the shopping and the authentic musicians, soloists, bagpipers and ancient horns serenating the squares and praza. I loved learning the history of this quaint, charming, peaceful town. I quickly learned what they value and live for. It’s simple traditions and caring & loving their family. The Galician’s know how to live. Many migrated from Portugal & set off to Santiago. Many of them walked across borders. They all paved a spiritual trail. So personal, brave and healing. Their authentic, private pilgrimage. I get it. I’m on the same wave and vibe myself. They sought to find a better life. To journey across the countries and find themselves, their beliefs, perhaps deepen their faith. Today, thousands of people, young and old still walk the El Camino, daily. They travel from all over Europe. Their final destination is Santiago de Compostela. Some trek a month, or several months on foot! Some peddle across countries. They all have one thing in common; It is their life long dream. To explore, to hike to walk to bike, and most importantly, to meet new people along the entire journey by walking the El Camino. The center square of Santiago, the Cathedral, is where everyone comes and celebrates their excursion. Hikers, trekkers, bikers, all scream & shout and cheer & chant! in pure delight. They have reached their destination. They have accomplished a life long dream and pilgrimage. I would sit and watch them arrive and celebrate with pure joy. All from different countries. Small or large Groups and families, young lovers and friends. The energy is uplifting and inspirational. Tired feet and bodies. Loving Life. Being in that moment of bliss! The lifestyle is admirable. Europeans value family and God above anything else. I could feel it all around me. I could see it daily, in their eyes, smiles and faces. It was a spiritual awakening for me…living there among the peaceful, quiet most humble people. Observing, taught me so much about simplicity and abundance. I left with a feeling of admiration. I made a sacred pact that I too would attempt to walk the El Camino one day. It also taught me something else. The journey inward is what most seek. To grow and expand our horizons. The final destination isn’t necessarily the goal. Most cherish the experience and knowledge you gain along the way. Priceless!
I also observed the culture daily. Socialization, walking, and strolling are part of daily life. The cafe’s are packed mid morning till late at night. They socialize with a cold Estrella beer daily, often before noon. They don’t rush or get up early. They eat late and stay up late. Everyday, in the late afternoon, everything and everyone stops. They close most stores at 3pm and reopen in the evening. A siesta perhaps for some. I thoroughly enjoyed my late day naps, after walking for hours and hours, I rested. Dinner, is a light fare, usually after 8:30 pm, often closer to 10pm. Seafood and fish are the staple. They enjoy simplicity. They love to chat, laugh and spend time outside. Children are welcome everywhere. I would stare all day at the adorable babies and children, dressed like they were going to a formal affair. I admired mothers and daughters all having matching outfits. The boys match too! Mucho adorable for sure. On Sunday, young and old dress up and play at the park and perhaps head to their favorite cafe. The elderly dress up in their Sunday best and they stroll. Slowly and quietly. They chat it up on plentiful park benches and absorb the sunshine and socialization. Of course, Sunday’s, holy day, Everything closes. They have mastered ” a day of rest” and nobody is mad about it. Those quaint streets in the city center have ice cold beer and wine and delicious espresso coffee! Addicting for sure. I noticed much love and laughter all around. I got a kick out of hearing American music often. I stared in awe of life in Santiago. Families together, sipping drinks and nibbling tapas. I quite enjoyed people watching and the art of doing absolutely nothing. Brilliant! I can’t wait to return to Spain and find new amazing places to visit and fill my heart with awe and joy. Ciao for now, Adios…amigo’s. I know I will see you again one day.