When we are complete with Dali, it is onwards and upwards out of the city. I found on the map the Monastery of Santa Maria, located high up in the mountains between Figueres and Cadaques. The road takes us up into the blue sky and with the windows down, the sun shining majestically and the world stretching out before us with welcoming arms, it feels like a return into the light; Dali was sort of a dark fellow. We stop at an old stone dolmen, a burial arrangement of stones that is, what?, ten thousand years old? Ancient!
We come around a bend, through a couple of roundabouts and into the access road to the Monastery. The first stones of the Monastery were laid in the 6th century – 1500 years ago! – later it was built up in the 10th and 11th centuries and went through various times of abundance and poverty, expanding itself as was fit. The tall stone towers, the vast echoing chapel with it’s filigreed columns sculpted by hands centuries old with golden light cast into it from the afternoon sun was an inspiration. Ancient remnants of frescos still on the walls in some places, other little corners and nuances… it was a gorgeous and inspiring experience, right down to the flan and cappuccinos we had on the terrace overlooking the Mediterranean below.
At last we got back into our little Naranjazul and made our way back down the mountain towards Cadaques. After a shower and a snack, we prepared to go have dinner. A nice restaurant, wine, fish in a delicious sauce, a walk along the waters edge, a softly lit evening…
The next day, after rising and having croissants and café con leche on the sun porch of the hotel we wandered through the little art market taking place in the town square then took a picnic lunch over the hill to the Dali house-now-museum in Port Ligat, a fifteen minute walk away. We were fortunate to be able to get a couple of tickets for a tour since they have to be bought in advance and were inspired by his imagination – the house slowly built over time, fishing shacks converted to house, office, connected with strange passageways and nuances around every corner…. We took our lunch later along a steep Cliffside of shale and then walked around the bay for a while til our hopes of finding the beach were dashed and Violet got quieter and quieter, a bad sign. So we walked back to town where we decided we’d just drive to a beach but we fell asleep for a while instead. I get up after a while and go for a walk. I don’t remember where.
Later I return, wake Violet for dinner, get ready and leave her to get ready while I go and sit at a tapas bar on the water, draw in my sketchbook, drink an espresso and try not to get tired of waiting for Violet to get ready. The sky grows dusty blue and pink as the sun sets behind us and people show up, taking tables around me, eating, drinking. It is nice to not be rushed by impatient American waiters and instead have a waiter who is ok with letting me sit and draw at my table on the edge of the beach. The table next to me is a French family of five, with two children maybe 8 and 9 and a little one in a stroller; reminds me of my family on vacation. The children are bouncing off the walls and finally go down to the water to check stones into the sea. It seems at that point like the parents breath a sigh of relief. Eventually, Violet joins me and we walk off into the evening, finding a warmly lit Moroccan restaurant where we eat some truly delicious food, have more wine and wander home, our bellies full, our minds at ease, and loving each other and the world. This is our second to last night. The next night would find us back in Barcelona and then, come morning, on a plane home. We tried not to think about it.