Sunday, October 18, 2009


It's a profoundly shocking experience to fall asleep on the back of a bus and wake up in a setting so familiar. Spain resembles California so closely. I have said it many times before, but the concept has integrated itself deeply into my mode of thought about this trip.

On our trip through Andalucia, we have seen many settings, unique and awesome. Mountains, steep and misty, give way to rolling foothills and valleys of neatly planted olive trees. A sea of olives, la mar de olivas as our group characterized it, interspersed with whitewashed towns. The towns generally have ancient stone churches or fortresses that regally stand above the tightly packed cubes of plaster and ceramic that composes the majority of a town.

I fell asleep on the bus. As we started to move I drifted off and watched this new and unfamiliar place shift under the wheels.

When I woke up I was in California. The hills were more barren. There were no distinct ranges in the distance. Fields, in the middle of october, had been harvested and the rich black/brown soil was turned up. Dried wild grasses and weeds accented the soil with a gold. Round shade trees surrounded the farms, and stood as walls to the lazy silt rivers we passed. Gas stations, full of semi-trucks. The buildings, no longer packed histories clinging to the bottom of a mountain, became suburbs, processing plants, modern steel and concrete. The hills in the distance were unconquered swaths of local trees, with the occasional radio tower. I could not distinguish this place from the sacramento valley if I tried.

Falling asleep with the security of being in a foreign land (if the concept makes sense) and waking up in a place so nostalgic and personal to my being, who I am, is assaulting and disorienting. It's bizarre to share the experience of your childhood setting with peers ten years later in a foreign land.

Mountains hold hills
With rows upon rows
Of olives.