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Travel Envy

For whatever reason I continue to glance at bicycle touring blogs frequently. Usually it only takes a glance to gong them, and for reasons you can easily guess. Nevertheless it is almost worth the daily discouragement in order to experience occasional bliss. And I'm doing that now, with a blog by a cycling couple from the San Juan Islands, who are touring a park northwest of Seville, Spain.

Why do I enjoy the Griffins' blog so much? In part it may be that their lack of tent camping spares the reader a lot of repetitive details. But I even enjoy their photographs, which I usually dismiss in travel blogs.

Perhaps the route itself gets some of the credit. They are riding medium-fat-tire bikes on dirt trails in what is almost a national park. The trails are usually mild -- an under-rated pleasure in bicycling, if there ever was one.  Remember that there is no mountain biking allowed in national parks in "freedom-loving" America. The scenery is much like New Mexico, except that there appears to be a lot more agriculture.

There are many towns and villages along the way. They are picturesque and interesting, but not cyootsie-wootsie touristy and up-scale. They don't seem to be encountering dead animals and litter as a gringo tourist would in Mexico.

At one point they really had me fluttering my eyelashes:
You can't help but feel a shiver of anticipation as you walk into the mezquita on the hilltop above Almonaster la Real - the kind that comes when you realize you are seeing something significant that will open up a new dimension of understanding in your mind. This 11-meter by 10-meter room captures 2000 years of Iberian history in its small space. Here we were standing in the same spot where Romans, Visigoths, and Arabs had come and gone, leaving their marks on the present day culture of Spain, and we could feel it all in just this small room, inhabited at the moment only by us and the birds that were constantly swooping by at eye level. At one time there would have been small rural mosques like this in villages all over this part of the peninsula, built with materials reused from earlier cultures. This is one of the few that has survived. It was built in the 900's, reusing materials from a Visigothic basilica that was built here in the 5th century. That basilica itself seems to have reused materials from Roman times.
My goodness, in my next life I want to come back as world traveler. Compare what they saw to the history of New Mexico: 'Billy the Kid slept here.'  Or, 'Butch Cassidy porked a saloon girl, buried outside this town.'

A North American traveler certainly has some advantages, but they are mainly geographical and climatological. There is nothing interesting about our towns. Too much of America is alike. Perhaps our real chance to see something worthwhile (besides postcards) was destroyed by English-speaking Yankeedom reaching from ocean to ocean. If states had stayed semi-autonomous, and Washington DC had not become supreme, it might actually mean something when the RV crosses the obligatory sign welcoming you to a "new" state.

But I don't want to leave the reader with too much of a downer. In fact, when I crossed back into New Mexico from Arizona today, I was delighted to see the dilapidated hovels that New Mexico excels in. You would think the other Four-Corner states would give New Mexico a run for their money, but they don't. I wonder why?


Ed said…
Is that Coffee Girl in the last picture? It does not look like her but maybe you have given her a summer hair cut again?

The States were independent states until Washington DC became an Empire now they are simply Provinces.
That's the (late) Little Poodle in Mountain Air, NM.

I always feel envy when I read a cycling tourist going from one country to the next and it actually means something! That is even true when they go from province to province. America is actually unbelievably boring and monotone.