October 2, 2012
I took the cog railway from Ribes de Freser into the Valley of Núria this morning, the tracks winding around steep mountain cliffs and through hand-hewn tunnels, gaining elevation meter by meter until we emerged into a green valley 2000 meters toward the sky, the grass still frosty and shaded with morning.
Once a hermitage and then a chapel for the valley’s shepherds, Núria is now a small ski resort. Since the ski season won’t open for another month or two, however, the place is empty and quiet. I wandered around in a surreal state, not really sure where I was exactly, thrown by the abundant infrastructure and lack of people. There is something so odd about places where the lack of human presence is a presence in and of itself: a carnival past closing time, vacant lots of prefabricated houses, city commercial districts after everyone has gone home for the day… And here, a glistening lake, a green meadow ringed by peaks, and a large old building occupying so much unused interior space. I eventually secured a map of area trails and got outta Dodge, relieved to ascend the rocky faces and leave the emptiness behind.
The trails were anything but empty, with mountain goats and sheep and horses grazing in the mountaintop meadows, wildflowers and sweeping stands of black pine, grasses and scrub brush and boulders, a majestic panorama around it all, mountain after mounting receding into the blue distance. I sat for a time smiling at the cavorting lambs and snorting horses, trying to be as still as possible so that they would come close. With the animals and the landscape, it was really quite easy to be Heidi. And also to sing The Sound of Music. Which I did. (But quietly.)
I roamed the open meadows for a couple of hours, feeling serene but also a but lonesome. There is a hostel here, and I had originally thought I might stay the night, but after discovering that I would likely be the only inhabitant, I decided to head back to the city.
And now here I am on the train. Because I am a Goddess of Navigation and Public Transportation.
I am back in Barcelona, sitting at a sidewalk tapas café on the Plaça Reial. My table is green and my chair is blue and the flowers are red. Palm trees and Gaudí street lights and drumming and music. This city is alive and humming.
I still have that slight lonesome feeling from this afternoon, but it’s lessened now that I am surrounded by people and movement and sound. And my notebook. It’s hard to feel lonely when I am writing.
Still, though, I had a desire to hold someone’s hand as I wandered through the Gothic Quarter tonight. I am doing my best to find meaning in all of this. If not meaning, at least patience. A little bit of patience would be good. Working on it. Day by day, working on it.