I’m sure we’ve all seen those nature documentaries, nature emerging from winter’s long hibernation. Snow, mud splattered mounds in sheltered, and shadow’s nooks and crannies. Cute little cuddly creatures, heads popping up, tasting crisp clean Canadian, or Nordic forest air. Frost spayed grass, glinting, greeting mid-morning’s golden sun rays, lasers through, armies of trees. Storms, fought, survived, trees triumphant over blizzards, bent but unbroken, weighed down by snow, resolute, united in resisting the freezing winds. The tree’s feet hosts a Squirrel, perhaps a possum, maybe a mole, whatever, leaves stirring as heads popup. Excited eyes, noses twitch, sound and smells, anticipation and hope, desire. A new year, new opportunity, adventure, sights, and FOOD. Old runs, old paths, familiar sounds, comfort. Summers on the way for them, and for me. Well that’s kinda how I feel.
Obviously not as cuddly, nor anywhere as cute, but still felt locked in, closed down and closed out, boarded up, as two summers and two winters crawled past. Life as I knew it was delayed, suspended, and banned. As the pandemic raged, we all had to shelter and survive. Communal meetings were banned, then small groups only, rules changed, and changed again, who, when, where, how many. That was just England. For us migratory creatures, our wings really were clipped, we were caged and pining warmer sunnier foreign climes. It was a case of 2nd or 3rd hand experiences through Television Travelogues, cathode ray travel – Yeugh . Second hand travels, very little worse, except 2nd hand shoes, which like travel, shaped by someone else’s impressions, often fit but badly and are so often utterly 3rd rate .
Cheers all around as Friday 11th February saw, first news of restrictions lifted for incoming travellers, and then overseas destinations, unwind restrictions. Travellers emerged. sniffing the wind, tasting change, hope in the air, checking websites, a world’s oyster, travel was back. With a passport, a vaccination record, a phrase book, and an ever faithful Rough Guide, travel was back. Holidays and vacations were up on the web, and out there again. Plans dormant for two years, dusted down and slaveringly reviewed, reassessed and then rejected. Colombia? Still a high risk. Chile, Argentina, moving into a cool, cold dismal winter, and £700 for that, forget it man. And there’s still quarantine. But travel is back.
Toon traveller’s wings, stretched and flexed, short haul, short trip, masked or not, and there was only one choice, a familiar, been there, seen that, eaten here, sipped and supped, sun and sangria, manzanilla and Jamo, foot stomps, hand claps, and furious guitars, ahhhh Flamenco. Yeup Southern Spain called, and I’m away there, again, pueblos, casas, tapa. Forget Lynyrd Skynyrd southern boogie plans, Andalucía, (for now) it is theee.
There today in my mind, and tomorrow too, imagination is just not enough, when reality’s just 3 hours away. Soon, oh so very, very soon, it’ll be train, plane, train, train and Córdoba for me. Hazily remembered strokes of Andaluce sun on a skin chilled too long in COVID’s social lockdown. Vino sips, ice cold Cerveza sups, hugged by gentle kisses warmed in the desert breezes of the glorious Southern night.
So it’ll be the first real travel for almost two long, dark, ossifying years. I wonder muscle memory will kick in, passport, baggage onto conveyor, name into self check-in, mask at the ready, belt in, seat up, jerk and rush, sky high, 40,000 feet, extortionate drinks and dinky nut bags, toilet queues and turbulence. From a window seat where there is nothing to see. Touchdown, shuffling feet, steps and arrivals, passport queues and luggage carousels, bus rides, hotel check-ins, first beers, and people watching.
Listening to the news today and it seems like everyone’s on the same game, Airbnb’s income explodes, profits surge, and booking’s up, everyone getting the same idea. Discouraged, not me, expectant, all the way, enthusiastic, yeah really, REALLY up for the stroke of Spanish sun, the chill of Spanish beer, and the taste of Deep Fried, hot chocolate dipped Churros, (every day should start this way). Bring it on, BRING IT ON.
But hey, it’s the sun, and the voices, and foreign lands that draws me, a moth to southern sun hazy, lazy impressionist light. The warmer, climes and home grown limes in the beer. Village squares, and al fresco days, shaded seats alive, pensionistas sun sitting, chatting, days reminisced, friends missed, as years took their toll. Shadows sought in the midday sun, waves and smiles, in villages changed in 20 years, for the better, yeah, i’d say village life is easier, they have what I have, maybe much will be the same as here .Expect to see, closed markets and dusty squares, empty shops, and closed bars. Out of town Lidl and Aldi, Big Macs and Subway too, but that’s progress, they’re as entitled to Netflix and Amazon Prime as anyone, that’s progress, and we’re all entitled to it’s sweet rewards. Well that, and hopes, and memories, in a mixed up, improvised stew of life good and bad, happy and sad, lived out under a Spanish Sun.
March sees a greatly expanded reissue of Elliott Smith's most critically acclaimed album Either/Or
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