In the midst of a 3rd lockdown with no end in sight, it's become almost habitual to pass the time with fond memories of your favourite travel tales and experiences. For me, I romanticise the time I was living in Spain; thinking of street-lined cafes and bars brimming with life, and finding myself craving the culture, sense of community and a caña or two.
Lockdown inhibits us from stimulation outside our homes and screens, which is where a lot of the magic usually happens. For this reason, I find myself envying my former-self living abroad where I was experiencing day-to-day life in ways that seemed exciting yet uncomfortable to what I was used to. I adopted new habits and daily rituals, which, because of the current state of the world, seems appetising to taste again.
Córdoba, bathing in the sunshine in the south of Spain, was a place full of soul and character, which explains why my mind so readily drifts off to its flower-lined lanes, squares filled with cafes and restaurants and groups of friends and family out all together unwinding and socialising as they should be. For the year I spent living there, I was soaking up a new culture, immersed in the heat and dizziness of new people, foods and doing my best to communicate in a new language. Living in Spain opened my eyes to the value of deep human connection. The kind where your friend unexpectedly stops by for a coffee as she found herself close-by or conversations erupts from simple smiles and shared moments. Where neighbours become friends from needing to borrow a corkscrew to open your first bottle of wine in your new apartment, or the boundary between friends and family start to merge. On Sundays, my favourite sight was when you’d often see large groups of what appeared to be extended families and friends, with kids running around together and adults seemingly blissfully unaware of time, as lunch over-poured into the early evening.
Besides the infectious fellowship, my life in Spain became somewhat more relaxed when it came to how you spent your time. Looking back I seemed to fill my days with small simple pleasures, encounters and moments of relaxation. Without a rigid schedule, there was more time for me to enjoy what I wanted to do. I would take time out of my day to sit down for a coffee or post-class caña. Living abroad opens you to new ways of seeing, thinking and being. Mundane errands or tasks perhaps become more exciting. There could be better ways of doing things, or maybe they leave you appreciating what you knew before. It could be that people stop and talk to you in the streets, or people seem to look up more, not down at their phones. Maybe conversations are louder, smiles are more abundant and life is a little more pleasant.
The novelty of discovering a new place with fresh eyes never tires me, regardless whether it’s for a few days or a year. Tucked up in my home, although lucky and grateful for this space, I am left dreaming of when our minds can be stimulated by new smells, tastes and sights again.