Sunday, April 20, 2008


We spent last night at Alejandro´s house ..... its beautiful, with hardwood floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, bright tiles, ivy everywhere, and two well-behaved children age 9 and 7 who want to play Twister and Monopoly with us and have us read them bedtime stories.

Alejandro, a single father, is nice and has given us oversized pajamas and unlimited cups of tea. The family speaks Spanish, English, French and some Arabic.

We will leave Alejandro´s tomorrow and stay with his friend in Jaen, about 50 km from here, surrounded by forested hilly national park. She doesn´t speak English, which will be great for our Spanish acquisition (as opposed to inquisition).

We MIGHT bike to Jaen, but frankly, I just don´t feel like getting on that damn bike. I´d rather walk.

Reflecting on the bike trip, here are the lessons I´ve learned:

1. Avid cyclists, especially hardcore cycle-tourists, have fun on heavily-trafficked roads. Even Kim once cycled on the shoulder of the U.S. interstate, I-90 north through Wyoming.

I, however, do not want to ride on heavily-trafficked roads. As much as I´d love to say I´ll try anything twice, there are simply some things I don´t want to ever do again. Cycling alongside semi-trucks is one of them.

2. Spain has a great bike route in the north, Camino del Santiago, that´s too rainy to ride now but perfect in June or July. I´d like to return to ride it. But I have a new rule that I will strictly adhere to -- I will only ride on popular, accepted bike routes. Not on rural two-lane highways that lack the sight of other cyclists but include massive trucks.

3. Learning Spanish is easier when playing with little kids.

4. Ten weeks is barely long enough to scratch the surface in Spain. There are so many nooks, corners and crannies to this beautiful country .... it would take years to explore it all.