Destination has become something more than the name of a place on my itinerary. It is a frontier waiting to be adventured. Along the way, I am discovering that the trip is to today and a passion is developing: wanderlust for a place where a new nation can be built from within.
Recently, after a daylong themed tour, “Cava, Coves and Gardens” in the beautiful Costa Brava region of Spain, I thirsted for more. Not the bubbly part of the theme, but the beauty that can hardly be captured in a digital frame. The gardens. The plant life.
After the impressive tour of the modest and native Mediterranean botanical garden, Marimutra, I arranged to discover the untamed, uncultivated species that grow right in the backlot of the hilly cultural hub of beautiful Barcelona.
The next morning at first light, I watered the horses, tamped down the canvas, and hitched to the wagontrain to the new territory. Well, not really a wagontrain, but a train – the regional train from Girona to Barcelona – a 1.5 hour trip. I boarded the train not pretending to know where I was on the trail, but knowing my path was being directed and a righteous way being made, knowing that any sagebrush in the path would be cleared, and knowing the fog of doubt would be lifted. I was a hopeful pioneer in search of an instant classic.
When we met up with NaturalWalks of Barcelona, we would take an urban walking tour up steep hills, onto precipices, peering onto the site of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the awe-striking Barcelona seaport, the sapphire Mediterranean sea, and the vast landscape views of metropolitan Barcelona.
As an avid walker, I have come to appreciate the beauty of the ordinary. By the end of the tour, what I knew was confirmed: the beauty and rich cultural heritage of the place I admired didn’t just lie just in the architecture and art and history. There was profound beauty and purpose in the modest and surefooted plant life that survived for generations. This secret life that graciously gave hints about how the land was used.
We discovered uncultivated fennel, garlic, sage, lavender, carob, mint, and a plethora of herbs and aromatics; it was like a moveable aromatheraphy session. When introduced to a new specimen, I would ceremoniously close my eyes, take in a deep breath, get a huge waft of aroma and exhale with a soulful, ‘aaahhh.’
Along the way around the mount, we noticed portions of the large rock wall which had been used for Olympic rockclimbing was cordoned off. There were safety concerns due to falling material. Then the amusing appeared: a tunnel. La Fuixarda. An outdoor tunnel that was being used as an urban climbing experience.
The “Bat Cave” is adorned with protrusions of all whimsical shapes, painted murals on the ceiling of the tunnel, and varying degrees of climbing difficulty. It was truly like walking into a colony of bats – friendly bats that were about the business of learning to hang upside down on the ceiling of a cave.
Ain’t That A Trip?…when an urban nature walk lands you in a bat cave.
Thank you Evarist March, owner of NaturalWalks for the memorable experience. Their website is http://naturalwalks.com/