Day One: Oropesa

Today, it started. I’m enamored with the potential to explore anywhere we want to go without needing to find a dog-friendly budget hostel with a kitchen once we arrive. There is a little setup make the bed inside, but it beats setting up a tent and air mattress by a country mile.

We got off to a late start. Itching to start traveling with Holly but not ready to head to Cologne and confront a proper German winter, we decided to head south in search of some sun, Islamic history, and good hiking trails. Our first big destination is Sevilla, the capital of Andalusia. But we’ll take our time, sin prisa.

About ninety minutes west of Villanueva de la Cañada, our home base for the last three months, stands a hilltop town named Oropesa with a castle built by the Moors over some Roman construction. Oropesa is small but reminded me of Trujillo and Toledo, two cities with similar architecture that pop up among the pleasant but somewhat monotonous countryside.

The weather was sunny and warm, unlike the last few days outside Madrid. We stopped to walk around the castle to stretch our legs and those of our dog companion. Not much happens on a Friday afternoon in any town in Spain so we quickly strolled the plaza and hit the road.

We read a Jacobin article aloud about meeting our needs and realizing our highest potential in a ecosocialist society:

We need to find ways to live luxuriously but also lightly, aesthetically rather than ascetically. Instead of an endless cycle of working and shopping, life in a low-carbon socialist future would be oriented around activities that make life beautiful and fulfilling but require less-intensive resource consumption: reading books, teaching, learning, making music, seeing shows, dancing, playing sports, going to the park, hiking, spending time with one another.

After, I thought about a few things:

  1. Latin America was a political, social, and spiritual catalyst. I want to write more about it, but leaving Mauritania was therapeutic in some way, though I hold it dear in my heart. It’s where I met my wife and took my shahāda. But we both needed time away from teaching obligations to think more deeply about the world and our place in it.
  2. I’m grateful to have a partner who is as curious and progressive about life as I am. Being able to encourage and build on each other’s ideas and projects is something special. Daily practices like reducing our plastic use, shopping and eating at local establishments to future plans on how to raise a kid in these times. Alhamdulillāh.

Crossing into Extremadura, we settled for the night near a merendero outside a small village surrounded by lightly-wooded pastures.

Arriving just before dusk, we made a simple salad while we listened to the cowbells and our dog tried to be brave and explore our campground unsupervised. The night sky perfect for stargazing with a hot chocolate.

Tomorrow we plan to visit Monfragüe National Park. The weekend and sunny forecast for tomorrow means we probably won’t be the only ones.

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