I can't yet put my finger on what this month away from San Francisco means for me, but I do feel that I sweat out a lot of my worries on the road about what I should be doing while in my hometown. Here below is the rough summary of the trip, after which I will branch off into more detail about my study of flamenco, though I might not be able to get to it today. There are still videos and lessons to review.
July 1-4 - Swimming in my own sweat - each day meant peeling off/on clothes for a new day in the tropical heat. Peeping the posh Playa del Carmen, I quickly wanted to remove myself to get the real stuff: street tacos - not just carnitas here, you can get a mix of meat. Besides that, there is the pyramid and surrounding old city structures at Chichen Itza and likewise in Tulúm on the coast. I skipped on via direct flight (Evelop Air) from Cancun to Madrid for the "hard" part of my trip.
July 5-15 - Getting my feet moving again in Spain made me instantly happy. - it was cooler for a moment, but torrential rains from Mexico followed me even to my first night in Madrid. Walking the streets of Madrid led alone by the salty must of hanging pig parts, fish, and some traditional landmarks, the Royal Palace, which always seems to be a stone's throw away when I'm in town, I begain stringing together a nice stroll, letting loose a bit and letting go any notion that there is one goal for my flamenco trip to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, where I was to take a week and half long guitar intensive course with Niño Manuel, a natural gift whose teacher is Manolo Sanlúcar, a great of greats. for those who don't know. Just being there was the original reason for the trip - to get back to Spain and rekindle some love for a place and an art form I've grown to recognize as partly my journey and feel almost at home in it. More on Sanlúcar - To be continued in another post. After meandering through Jerez with trepidation especially through the rougher edges of town, I moved on to see some old friends I knew from San Francisco, but who reside in Galway and Paris now, respectively.
July 16-21 - I landed in Dublin, accompanied by Paco, and stood at the luggage belt darting from conveyor to Paco's watch since we had a bus to Galway to catch. I was unsurprised to find my luggage had not made it from the Madrid connecting flight. We took the bus, no luggage, jsut my backpack and it even made it through a night od debauchery at the practically all-Irish Rowing Club, which is a damn good nightclub for all ages. We biked - me, Cathal and Elina. Luggage arrived the next day in Galway, where my friend Cathal had housed me over several days, then chaffeured me to his mother's farm, where I learned that taking care of three kids (Cathal's nephews) is deserving of a nap, or at the very least deep consideration of my capability to take care of people.
July 21-24 - Amsterdam - miles of brick buildings that look out to canals, uncountable bikes and small watercraft. Walking in the west part of town, when the shops had been closed for the night, I saw a whole different side of the city life.: mannequins which were visibly tailored for the looks and stature of the local population stood out, evidence of a culture I've still yet to get love contact with. The people were kind, asked my name, and it was a joy to sit out, look at the canals and get to know people and their lives there.
July 25-28 - Berlin - the Hauptbahnhof train station is an oblong glass fishbowl acting as one of the main hubs for Berlin trains. You can see the tracks from the outside, on various levels of the station, making this a must-see attraction. The museums in Berlin are on par with the quality of Amsterdam's, but are a fourth of the price or less, only 3-4 euros with discount. I wouldn't have counted out any of the museums visited: German Historical Museum, Markisches Museum (City History), Jewish Museum, Technology Museum, DDR Museum. Each offers an impressive view into greatness, achievement, even in turbulent times. At a refugee NGO called Give Something Back to Berlin, I donated my guitar. A much harder one is finding a new one that fits me and my playing style. Back in SF that should not be too difficult - the challenge is that there are so many options to choose from...now to test some out.