Gratitude. Things I'm Grateful For #14

Warmer weather, a healthier appetite for salads and fresh fruit, a brighter outlook for the week ahead. Our moods are certainly shifted by the rotation of the earth, the ability to walk outside without a coat, the gatherings that opt for the terrace as opposed to the interior, birds singing their love songs, not to mention the amazing "spring greens" that are asparagus, artichokes and peas.

Here's what I'm grateful for this week.

1. Origins

Contrary to the habits I picked up from my previous 50-hour-work-week-life in the United States, in Spain there is still a lot of manual preparation that takes place in many kitchens, and more or less on a daily basis - with 2 hour lunch breaks and grandmothers living nearby, many can afford to take the time to eat a slow, enjoyable, "tablecloth" meal. Granted this is diminishing, as more products for "time-saving" and "life-facilitation" hit the market, but you'll still find yourself many a time soaking the lentils the night before, washing the dirt from spinach, or personally cleaning the guts of your recently purchased fish. I personally find great joy and relaxation in these acts, and I'm grateful that nature and agriculture offers me the ability to reflect and learn where my food really comes from: peanuts grow from the ground (!), fava beans have to be shelled, and almonds removed from their fuzzy green coverings. It's a beautiful reminder.

It took me a half hour to separate the fava beans from their pods, but I am NOT complaining!

2. Witnessing Holy Week in Malaga

Been there, done that. I'm not a religious person, and frankly much of what occurs during Semana Santa and its activities are pure show, but none the less it does speak volumes to tradition, and something that Spain continues to do so well - not lose certain traditional customs.

For an entire week the narrow alleyways of Malaga's historic center are abuzz with the smell of incense, people and baby strollers, and hardened wax puddles on the stone floor. Overall there is reverence - not as drastic as say in Seville - but said (by certain Malagueños) to be more spectacular than their Andalusian sister city, more "difficult." And that may be true, not everyday do you see 1 or 2 ton procession tronos being carried by 150-200 grown men, or even the sight of bad-ass military dudes singing praises to the baby Jesus.

I guess it's harder than it looks, but it looks pretty rough. Malaga, Easter Week 2013. 

Game time. Members of a confraternity (cofradía in Spanish), Semana Santa Malaga 2013. 

The members of la legión (leading the march of their trono, el Cristo de Mena), are known as Spain's most profound and professional military sector. Malaga, Spain 2013. 

3. Other Cultures

After our experience with Holy Week in Malaga we caught the ferry and headed to Morocco, landing in Tangier. It's amazing that this completely other world exists just some 14 kilometers across the Straight of Gibraltar. And while there are still many differences, it could be argued that northern Morocco and southern Spain have more in common than say bordering France or Portugal. In many circumstances you can get buy speaking in Spanish (the Moroccans have a knack for languages), on really clear days you can see the Iberian peninsula, and you can bet your bottom dollar that whenever a Spanish soccer (fútbol) team is playing, all of the tea houses are showing the match. On the other hand, it's a welcome respite from the narcissism and greed of Western culture, in Morocco they aren't experiencing a crisis, if people don't find work, they invent it, traffic still runs more or less as the cars dictate, and sheep are allowed to graze just about anywhere. It's an extremely fertile and fascinating land that I hope to one day see in its entirety - but for now I'm happy with my Moroccan argan oil, because you know, back on this continent wrinkles and living stress-free are more our kind of obsession.

Enjoying afternoons with mint tea (té moruno as the Spaniards call it) and Cafés Carrion. 

4. Patience 

As I mentioned in my last gratitude post, learning to come to terms with waiting is something I'm reworking my brain to get a solid grasp on. We're still floating a bit in a sea of unknown waters. But, Rome wasn't built in a day, nor will these beautiful flowers bear their fruit until late summer or early fall. Putting faith in yourself, your partner, your family and your situation are not the only things to hold close, there is also a great faith that we must put into patience - doing what we can in the interim, but believing that arrival to true happiness and success, or arrival to our true self, takes time. 

At the end of summer these flowers will be matured quince fruit. My boyfriend's mother will gather all of them and make membrillo, or quince jelly, that pairs phenomenally with fresh Spanish cheese.  

5. New Findings 

The Internet is a big place, lately feels quite infinite; I have hundreds of tabs open every day and a backlog of to-do and to-read lists. Every now and again I come across those sites that require revisiting, those maybe even worthy of an email subscription. Paul Jun, who appears from his Linkedin profile to be younger than I, is most certainly wiser. I've been enjoying his writings lately, his honest approach to life's happenings and how to will ourselves to be better people and members of society. Check out his site, Motivated Mastery.

What do you have to be grateful for? Please join us in our #gratitudequest! More updates from Sobremesa In Spain on Facebook


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