Michael Divine

Driving takes us northwards, into the mountains where we find ourselves passing into what seems like a gateway into the mountains in the form of mammoth curving red rock formations that end with a punctuation of a little white walled red terracotta roofed town, along a river rushing below. We stop to take pictures, of ourselves, of the rocks and river and trees. Driving further takes us up past cows grazing, sheep grazing, more mountains, into the trees and, as the sun sets, the shadows of the mountains grow until they tower over us, looming in the dark. We make our way towards Jaca a little mountain town in the direction of our destination but at an intersection we change course and head deeper into the mountain valleys passing through littler and littler towns until we arrive in Hecho where we stop to eat in the little village of grey stone, flowers, ancient streets twisting and turning, balconies. In the brightly lit restaurant/bar, half a dozen older men come in all at once from the drizzly mountain night. They stand around the bar, in front of our table and each quickly has a glass of wine, talks loudly and with much gusto and then leaves with the same sort of bluster. Our wine and potatoes and cheese are much quieter. When we are finish we get in the car in the cold wet dark nifhr and head north towards the dot-on-a-map village of Sirensa and finally, onwards further to the little Hotel Uson, but they are full for the night (Sunday) and we must turn around and make our way back to Hecho where we get a bare little room in a stone and wood hotel. Hotel is a loose term: it’s a pleasant enough little place on a corner with rooms, a restaurant… but whenever I think of “hotel” I am doomed to mental images of Motel 6’s and Best Westerns… they are never ever like that. They are almost always cute, pleasant and homey.

In the morning, I go for a walk. The sun is rising, bathing the stone walled village in golden light. In a hillside field, one square of grass amongst others, with little stone barns, low stone walls and verdantly green grass, sheep graze in this place that place hasn’t changed for thousand years ago, save for the cars and the electrical lines. A dog sidles up beside me and follows me around town, keeping me company, showing me his hood, nice dog. When Violet awakens we have breakfast of, once again, croissants, ham, orange juice and café con leche, take a walk through town then head back to Hotel Uson with it’s quaint wood and stone farm house look, powered by solar and water and beautifully situated on a hill side looking towards the stone cathedrals of mountains that rise up out of the forests. We are given a room this time and leave our things and exploring.

Rounding the curves and bends of the twisting road into the mountains grants an eternally replenished view, a new vista and another eye-poppingly beautiful scene. We drive until our little car can’t handle the road any longer and then we get out and walk down into a valley surrounded by towering peaks of the Pyrenees while around us the gentle clanging of the dozen distant cowbells around the heifer’s necks sounds like soft wind chimes. We explore the valley, the flowers and waterfall, approach rather skeptical cows and then have some lunch on the hillside of ham and apples and bread and cheese. We take to leave and head back to a trail that goes up into the forest where we had stopped a bit earlier to check out the thistles and the view. The trail takes us up into the wet woods past numerous mushrooms in all shapes and colors, tall firs with patterned bark, the wind through the branches softly weaving together their shadows, the sound of the river rushing, Violet with her tall wizard- like walking stick, us climbing higher til it seems we can’t go much further. At last, with the air cooling, a possible rain storm on the horizon and Violet tired of climbing, we turn around and head back down where we hop in the car and stay on the edge of the gathering clouds. Back in the Hotel we shower and enjoy the mountain air feeling of the little place. We drink hot chocolate and write and draw in our journals in the sun room and then, later, eat a delicious dinner, have some wine and retire to our bedroom where we sleep deeply.

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