We paddled 175km over nine days in northern Saskatchewan, sharing food, laughter, mosquitoes, and tons of fun with friends to inspire the following poem 🙂
I wait on a beach in Northern Saskatchewan
for aurora borealis to arrive.
My friends, modern nomads, tuck in
to yellow, blue, orange and green domes.
Sandstone hills and evergreen trees rise
above marshy grass.
Beneath a still surface
river current slides north toward Arctic,
mirror images of its shoreline
reaching for heaven.
Night hawks shoot skyward
wings bugling a haunting tune.
mosquitoes attack my ears
the world settles into a bedtime routine.
I think about waking up the others
with bear bangers on the beach.
Sagrada Familia is a Catholic basilica in Barcelona. Construction began in 1882. In 1883 Antoni Gaudi became involved and made it his life’s passion. It was only one quarter complete when he died in 1926. Construction of the basilica relies solely on donations. It is hoped construction will be complete in 2026 – one hundred years after Gaudi’s death.
Sagrada Familia is unlike any of the churches we have seen on our travels and seems to defy description. Eyes feast on a buffet of sights that soar, colours that shade dark to light as they rise to the heavens, facades that carve Christian messages in their towers. Astonish, amaze, admire – wow!
(Gaudi’s tomb in a crypt beneath Sagrada Familia)
Through our journey we have found there are opportunities for experiences you don’t expect and cannot prepare for. Encounters that leave you marvelling at life. We had two of such occurrences on our longest day of travel. (1) We left Nerja under hazy skies heavy with Mediterranean moisture. Clouds stacked liked cotton balls witnessed our departure. (Natalie Matsui, the sky reminded me of your Popcorn Cloud portrayal in the Alberta Skies project.) Imagine our conversation as we settled ourselves for the impending six hour drive. “Hey look, there’s another greenhouse.” We had seen a few earlier throughout Portugal and Spain. The landscape we were driving through was arid, desert reminding us of Nevada or Arizona. Soon we began to see more greenhouses and thought they must be effective for growing fruits and vegetables in this unforgiving environment. As we saw more greenhouses we joked about someone getting rich by convincing his neighbors to buy plastic for greenhouses. Soon the horizon was completely plastic – WTF! We felt like we had stumbled upon some sort of dystopian science experiment. Google informed us we were viewing the greenhouses of Almeria. Apparently this is one of the most recognizable places on the planet when viewed from a satellite lens. It seemed like a good idea may have gone terribly wrong – or not. I’m sure there are many points of view about this but as we observed a valley without a single square inch of green or rock visible, only the steeple of a church and rooftops of a village rising above the sea of plastic, our conversation faded to silence….
(2)still reeling from what we had inadvertently witnessed, I received an email that made me laugh out loud. I hope I can convey the uncanny events that lead to this outburst. Three couples unknown to each other are travelling in Spain in May of 2017. Couple #1, Janet and Bryan, meet couple #2, Chris and Nonie, in Seville. Several days later couple #1 meets couple #3, John and Mary, in Arcos. Couple #3 meets couple #2 in Tangier and again in Gibraltar. Several days later couple #2 chance upon couple #1 in Granada. They determine that they each met couple #3 and Janet sends Mary an email. I feel like it’s an episode from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “what are the odds?!”
The Caves Of Nerja are a series of caverns. Concerts are regularly held in one of the chambers which forms a natural amphitheater. Archeologists have found pictographs that look like ballet dancers (as well as many others). Cave paintings in these caves could be the oldest yet found. Unfortunately the caverns with the paintings are not open to the general public.
The monkeys of Gibraltar loved John!
St Michael’s Caves were once used as a war hospital and to house World War 2 supplies for the Allies. Today they hold concerts in the large grottos and have coloured lights and music for tourists.
We didn’t see kite surfers in Tarifa but were delighted to find them at Malaga.