Monday, 10 June 2013

The rain in Spain

It’s always fun to test received phrases and sayings in practice.

Travel broadens the mind, I’m told.

This I’ve always taken as meaning that they do things differently in other places and visiting them helps understand that one
’s own way isn’t necessarily the best, let alone the only one.

Sometimes, though, travel can reveal things to be exactly the same somewhere else. In a village, up in the mountains north of Madrid, we came across an English party over for a wedding. Spain in June: unbearably hot, flooded with sunshine, making a high-factor sunblock vital for health. Not hard to imagine what the happy couple were expecting.

They didn
’t get it. Instead they, and we, found fine rain alternating with grey skies which would have felt like that most comforting of places abroad, a home from home. Except that England enjoyed superb weather over the weekend. 

The experience at least gave me the satisfaction of learning that the rain in Spain by no means stays exclusively in the plain. You can get plenty of the damn stuff up in the mountains too. Even in June.

We took advantage of the occasional gentle rain and the cool temperatures under grey skies to tackle a bit of a hike to a place called ‘the cascades of purgatory’. Interesting notion. The place is actually rather attractive, the waterfall impressive. The purgatorial bit is the eight kilometres to get there, including a 500 metre rise. 

The Falls
Not so purgatorial as the way to get there

The irony is that the walk took us two hours each way, admiring the falls about two minutes. As they say, what matters isn’t the destination, but the journey.

Danielle in the Sierra
Proving that the journey matters as much as the goal
and adding a splash of colour as vivid as the flowers she's photographing
Of course, once we’d finished the sixteen kilometre round trip – something good about that number, incidentally, since it just takes you into double figures in what I still shamefacedly regard as real money, working out at ten miles – my youngest son Nicky felt he’d barely scratched the surface of his need for exercise. So he went off to climb another mountain pass by bike, to ensure that he didn’t have a wasted day of it.

He was doing the same stuff today, though this time we went up ahead of him by car and could greet him, cameras at the ready, as he reached the top. 1796 metres above sea levels, after a 700 metre climb. And barely out of breath.

Hard to tell from the photo, but he's smiling
Watching him convinced me that every remarkable endeavour includes a measure of madness.

Nicky reaches the top.
He seemed disappointed there wasn't any more
That isn’t a received expression, though. I offer it as a modest contribution to the world’s stock of proverbial sayings. And at least I can attest to the truth of this one, from the behaviour of a member of my own family.

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