Laguardia, a small village on top of a hill is, notably, in the middle of the area. It is surrounded on all sides by long sloping valleys of vineyards and bodegas, with some towering cliffs and mountains climbing, granite grey dappled in green, behind it. We wander into the town, parking the car in one of it’s surrounding parking areas because there are no cars allowed in the town. It is almost siesta time we have a chance to buy a few bottle of wine at a little wine shop, sold to us by an excited Italian girl. The town clock rings two and three little figures dressed in white come out of it and do a dance called the “passacalla”, a local traditional dance. It’s a strangely humorous occasion, at least to those of us on the outside. We head into a crowded and somewhat smoky little café peopled by older local folks talking and laughing and drinking wine, have some lunch of tortilla, some wine and head out again. At this point we are heading for Cadaques, on the Mediterranean coast north of Barcelona. It’s a long drive and Violet is going for it – I don’t drive manual! She’s been at it the whole time! God Bless her!
But it gets late and the wine makes us sleepy so we stop in Lleina which seems to have filled it’s twisting streets with dozens of shops and not a restaurant in sight! Finally we have some super tasty Italian food, poke around a bit and end up in bed sleeping soundly. In the morning, after cafes and a walk, we get out of there and drive drive drive – 140 km/h – to Cadaques.
A few noteworthy things while we drive:
- There are very few police on the roads, if any at all.
- Everyone uses their blinker (almost) and the people who are driving slower always drive in the slower lane!
- We see very few fat/overweight people anywhere. It is refreshing and feels… healthy!
- A culture that drinks the small café con leche over the ginormous grande with a ton of sugar and cream lives longer healthier lives. Old people don’t look as old and unhealthy.
- We like Spain. A lot. It seems to like us too.
- If McCain wins the election is says a lot about where this country is going. And i think i’ll be going to Spain.
Passing north. I do my best to navigate. North. Past Barcelona, the exit for Montserrat, and we can see the serrated mountain tops in the distance, a pale grey blue ridgeline cutting up against the sky with swaths of valley and towns in between. North past fields of sunflowers, their bright golden heads leaning forwards with the weight of a thousand seeds in spiraling sequences and little villages and towns with their little bars and lamp posts, each with a cathedral towering upwards, some with cathedrals that seem larger than the towns, built on hill tops with the town trickling away below them, trying to get as close to the heavens as possible, sometimes missing the heaven that is under their feet. North past Figueres where well return later to visit the Dali museum… then we head East, towards the mountains with the Mediterranean on the other side. We climb up over rocky ridgelines with hills cascading down below that are lined with terraces hundreds of years old, dotted with old olive trees, dry prickly oaks and scrub golden in the sun. The terraces line the curves accentuating the arcing rolling mountain sides. Miles of terracing, from top to bottom of mountains into the little valleys where ancient stone houses farm the same land they’ve been farming for a thousand years through wars and peaces, famines and fortunes…
We crest the last hillside, make our way into Port de la Selva and get lost for a while in the maze of narrow stone streets as we try to find the road to Cadaques – the minute you get into it you feel like a rat in a maze- where’d the mountains go? Where’s the exit to this thing? Every wall looks the same, did we pass that old wooden door already? What the hell? Directions from a couple little old ladies out for a walk, thy converse in Spanish quickly about the best way to get out of here and, it seems from their intonations and facial expressions, it’s not an easy verbal map to give. With their directions in mind we are quickly on our way out, passing again into the mountains til we see the sea again and, down below the little white-walled red-roofed town of Cadaques. The sea winks.