The week to date has been a blur of eating, drinking, reading, writing, talking, eating, drinking and so on. It's been productive writing time for me, though I feel like every hour is filled, and manage to write only late at night when the muse is just about to fall asleep. We have had a couple of good brisk walks, including one yesterday to our lunch that was two hours there and two hours back. But we are all sensing that even a four hour daily walk might not be enough to counteract the scale of consumption.
Tammy is leading us to consider, poetically, questions of travel. We've spent a lot of time with the delightful book by Alain de Botton
, The Art of Travel
, and more with the likes of Elizabeth Bishop
, whose Arrival at Santos
kicked us off, and whose Questions of Travel
have given us both the name of the course and a lot of food for thought.
Not as much food as Marisa has been offering, of course - her Valencian suppers are stupendous, and her lunch salads a little too inviting, particularly when augmented with fluffy tortilla or tuna pastries.
Tuesday morning's session was in the orange grove,
with the penetrating perfume of orange blossom and constant buzz of bees, surrounded by lush globes of fruit whose juice we have been consuming at all hours of the day. As we left we discovered almond picking, a recreation I have been obsessively enjoying for two days straight, its rewards exquisite as we discovered on our mountain walk, when a pause and a couple of flat rocks coincided well with a pocketful of booty.
Yesterday was the mid-session break, and we began it with a private view of Relleu
's museum, full of interesting and artfully arranged ethnological treasures to do with the history and traditions of the area: old bee-keeping equipment
caught my attention, and some beautiful wooden garden tools.
After our epic walk,
our lunch was a fabulous Paella Valenciana
in the village of Sella,
and we ate so much - including starters of croquetas (bacalau
- salt cod, but very understated), champignons and a deliciously simple salad of lettuce, onions and tomatoes in lemon and olive oil - that we all felt the need to walk it off by returning over the mountain,
instead of catching the offered lift back. It rained and shone and gave us wonderful views over the terraced hills, through olive and almond groves, our path formidably bordered by wild flowers.
After a short rest, supper was at a tapas bar in Relleu, where we had some boquerones
(but these ones were not anchovies, they told me sadly),
squid rings, pork and liver, some small squid-like/octopus-like critters, tortilla, ribs, bread, anchovy-stuffed olives, and an absurdly delicious coconut flan
is the Spanish version of creme caramel, and it's wonderful) followed by what I'd say is my favourite coffee in the world, cafe cortado
, the slightly bigger and bolder Spanish first cousin to caffe macchiato
, my other favourite coffee in the world.
And then made our way (phew, downhill) back home.
We are into our final couple of days here, which I've found very useful and pleasant, and of course extremely well catered. I just hope el Cheapo airline does not weigh its passengers for the return journey this weekend...