It’s Wednesday and I’m sitting down at my table to write–the first time in a few days. Friday, morning, my friend, Julie, and I drove to Spain for a long weekend. Love the sound of that; in California the equivalent of driving from, say Long Beach, up to San Francisco. Somehow driving to another country just seems more exotic. Crossing borders isn’t quite as it once was though –no passport checkpoints or different currencies. It’s much like driving from one state into another–except of course for the language. My French might be (it is) halting, but my Spanish basically consists of por favor and gracias. In the Catalan region where we stayed, the latter is pronounced with a lispe: grathias. The story, perhaps apocryphal, is that the King of Spain (I think) had a lisp and so as not to feel self conscious, he decreed that everyone spoke that way.
We stayed in Port Lligat, a cove away from the popular and incredibly crowded Cadaqués where motor scooters zip along the waterfront and the sidewalk cafés are always full. From the hotel terrace we could see the egg-shaped sculptures on the roof of the house where Salvador Dali lived for five decades until the death of his wife, Gala when he went off to live in a castle.
I didn’t know much about Dali, or his art. In photographs, he looks devilish–sly expression and a handle-bar moustache with waxed tips that sweep up the sides of his face. Gala, modestly dressed– except for one portrait which shows her with a bared breast–often looks a bit subdued. Maybe she yearned for something more conventional than the stuffed and garlanded polar bear in the parlor, or the snake sculptures around the phallic shaped swimming pool. Walking through the house, I had the sense of being in a bizarre dream. I could have spent hours there, but we were whisked from room to room so that the next group could come through.
In the gift shop, I bought a copy of Dali’s ‘melting’ clock and a transparent plastic umbrella patterned with cobwebs that will be fun in the rain.
I walked a lot while I was in Spain, up winding cobble-stoned hills in Cadaqués and up more steep winding roads lined with olive trees back to Port Lligat. Walking was a good idea because we also spent a lot of time eating and drinking. Platters of sizzling anchovies, mussels, and patatas bravas–spicy fried potatoes. A fair share of red wine too.
A great weekend and, as I unlocked the front door, the sense that it felt good to be home.