Tag Archives: travel

Morning In Seville

Monday morning dawns with a promise of beauty and adventure. Carolyn and I traveled by the high speed train (AVE) yesterday from Madrid to Seville–328 miles–in just 2 and 1/2 hours. We are staying in an apartment in Triana, across the river from the main part of town. We love this area, since it is where the folks live, and is not too touristy.

Part of the joy of travel is the surprising and usually brief encounters with people, both local and international. Martin Buber suggests that real living is encounter, even at a distance if one has the ears and the heart to hear the call of the soul in another. Three times yesterday morning in Madrid I had Spanish people ask me directions, and twice I actually knew the answer. The third gentleman was most gracious when I explained I was an American, and did not know the street he was seeking. We had a lovely exchange, and parted shaking hands. These short but sweet human meetings warm my heart, and reinforce my belief in the positive energies of life. We hear the horrors of the world on the evening news (if we choose to listen), but every day offers the gift of grace and warmth that brings light to those dark forebodings.

This Ebola scare is a good example. None of our lives will have a happy ending–at least from one point of view. We might find some consolation in the belief in an afterlife or in reincarnation, but still, death has its sting. Plato, of all people, warns us not to live a life which is little more than “a rear guard action against death.” I find that inspiring. I don’t want to miss today’s blessings because I am worried about what awful thing might happen.

A student once remarked that this attitude could have me ending up with a bullet in my head. I answered that I would rather live ten more years without fear, and catch that bullet, than live 50 more years in craven fear. So many people worry about life after death. I think it is far more important to give attention to life before death. Whatever happens afterwards will take care of itself.

So we are off for a day in Seville. What will we see? What fabulous tapas will we discover? Who will cross our paths? And if things should “go wrong,” then the adventure begins.

I’ll end by sharing a picture I took last night from our balcony of the Seville Cathedral–the third largest in the world:
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Traveling with Carolyn

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Starting Monday, October 20, 2014, Carolyn and I will be spending two months in Spain, and in the Spring of 2015, two months in Italy. We hope to share the sensuality of these lovely countries, and the joy of the human connections we make along the way..

Our love of travel was nurtured by our careers as university professors, since we were able to attend many international conferences. The years we spent based in Japan also allowed easy access to the Orient. Over the years we have visited 25 countries, and we continue to dream of distant horizons.

We find travel intensified living. New colors, sounds, smells, quality of light, language, and customs are continually fascinating. We therefore travel primarily to drink in the rich textures of our planet, and to interact with the people who inhabit it. Of course, that doesn’t rule out enjoying the unique tastes of each country, and we spend a good amount of time wandering the streets, reading menus, and chatting with the folks who cross our path.

We also feel that language is the key to people’s hearts, so we do our best to learn at least a few words of our host country’s language. We have a good working knowledge of Spanish, Japanese, French, and Italian, and continue to spend part of each trip studying at language schools. This is a great way to travel, since it allows us to practice the skills of communicating, and also to feel a part of the place beyond simple tourism. It is amazing how the faces of people soften when we say “Somos estudiantes de la escula de idiomas aquí  (We are students in the language school here.)”

During the next few weeks, I will be posting from Madrid, Sevilla, and Nerja, a small coastal town in Andalusia.  I hope to share some of the flavor of those places and the people who live in them.

Hasta pronto…

 

 

City Mouse or Country Mouse?

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Carolyn and I live in a small town in Indiana. It often feels like a plate of white beans: bland and unexciting. This weekend, however, finds us in the New York City area, and Indiana is beginning to have a certain attraction.

I love Manhattan, with the architecture, vibrant energy, and good restaurants. Wandering through Central Park up to the museum district is one of our life’s great joys. But driving around on the outskirts of the City is to be caught up in a frenetic maelstrom. People seem frantic to get to where they are going, and there is a general feeling of discourtesy and selfishness. Fear, aggression and scarcity seem to be the values that shape the highway environment. I could well be wrong about all this, but it does seem sad to me that people live with such fearful, self-centered urgency.

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