Monday, August 22, 2011

And so it begins...

The announcement of my decision to travel to Spain garnered fewer responses of "why?" than my previous destination of Austria, though it has not come without its own fair share of incredulous comments. Spain is not as easily confused with Australia as Austria so frequently is; its name elicits talk of beautiful scenery, though sometimes only vague recognition, from my relatives. Yet for the most part, to them, it remains a mysterious, foreign entity, far from the safety and security of the cozy hills of the bluegrass.

And to some extent, I share their sentiments. I have never been so far away from the nest for such a long period of time. I love to travel and I have done a considerable amount of it in my lifetime, yet I have never taken up permanent residence in a place more than thirty miles from home, much less five thousand. I have spent my entire life learning, practicing, rejecting, and modifying customs from Kentucky and the United States. I have learned to do all of this in English. Now I am to ship off to an alien realm where some of the most basic ideas will be difficult for me to express. I may be ahead of my sister (she wasn't aware of which language Spaniards speak), but my Spanish is far from proficient.

Whereas many of my hometown friends and relatives may stop there and refuse to take part in such a fiasco, I have persisted. I'm not sure what it is about the world and its strange inhabitants that intrigues me, but it has made me spend an awful lot of money on plane tickets and gasoline to go out and get a good look at it. There are so many people to disagree with and listen to and appreciate and respect and love. There are so many pieces of history at which to marvel and to detest and to study. There are lakes, rivers, streams, mountain ranges, waterfalls, volcanoes, swamps, ditches, dirt, mud, and snow. It's really something. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it's really something.

This particular piece of something that I have decided to spend the better part of the next year in is called Albarracín. It's a little medieval town, hiding in the mountains somewhere between Barcelona and Madrid, more or less, in the region of Aragón (and before my brother asks, yes, it is where Tolkien's ranger lives). Its inhabitants number about a thousand and it looks to be a pretty dry place. It remains intriguing to me, though. I'm interested in the small town dynamic of a place like Spain. I wonder how many similarities it might have to a place like Owingsville. In many ways, I hope those similarities are few. It's not that I despise Owingsville's quaint charm, friendly people, and over-abundance of pill addictions, it's that I want a different experience. For the same reasons Tennessee isn't my number one vacation destination, I want Albarracín to be unlike our city on the hill.

Whatever adventures await me in Spain, I will greet them with excitement and a tiny bit of apprehension. I plan to take ridiculous amounts of pictures and log my experiences in detail in my travel journal and, with some frequency, on this blog.

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