A short trip down to the southern part of Spain is little village called Mijas. I know that experience is always better than information, and such was the case with this little gem of a place. My closest friends, Gary and Lisa Black live here and have told the magical and sometimes hard to believe stories that come from this tiny pueblo. They shared the cafes, bakeries, and hidden garden restaurants that are tucked away on the one lane cobblestone streets with Teresa and me.
We had just come from the bustling city of Barcelona, and Mijas stood in stark contrast of the large city that never seemed to sleep. The cobble stoned streets were lined with whitewashed homes and apartments, that were decorated in the famous blue potted flowers that stand in perfect harmony with their background. Homeowners would come out in the early morning hours and wash their front porches that double as sidewalks for the many pedestrians. Horse drawn carriages and donkey rides allowed people to experience Mijas like it needs to be, slow and intentional.
Teresa and I explored Mijas and felt we had encountered a piece of history with every new lane we ventured down. We felt at times we were transported back in time at the pace of life and the warm smiles that came from the town folk. The single lane streets bustled with life from tourist from all over the world, perhaps to experience a simpler life. The shopkeepers were kind and patient as we tried to communicate in our best Spanish that we had long forgotten since our High School days. They were proud of their Spanish heritage and wanted to make sure that we knew that the products we were considering were made “right here in Spain!”
Our adventure continued as we found ourselves on an arboretum path of sorts. Plants, shrubs, and trees were identified with small signs that took me back to my study of horticulture in college. The decorative concrete walkway boasted some of the greatest views of the Mediterranean and on a clear day you can see Gibraltar and the mountains of North Africa. Cliffs and water falls were also part of the surprise and we imagined ourselves climbing the rocks using the chains and pegs from climbers over the years. This led us to the only remaining bull fighting ring in Spain. Although this practice has become all but obsolete in the country, here you can still capture a piece of history, and in the right season, see a piece of Spain’s heritage played out in the ring.
Mijas was filled with surprises and was always more to her than met the eye. We thought we would pass a small restaurant and it would turn out to be a hidden garden filled with people and conversation. Our favorite place was actually called, The Secret Garden where we had our first dinner. The wine was second to none, and the food was amazing. Everything from Mediterranean cuisine to Spanish barbecue. Teresa and I had thoughts and conversations of home, kids, family, and our 26 years together. We found a gem. We loved it!
There was more to Mijas to discover. One of the shops featured a local award winning artist that took pictures from all over the world. We spent almost a full hour in this place and had our minds wander all over the planet as we experienced his lens of humanity from Africa, Spain, Nepal, India, and other parts of Europe. I found myself in tears at some of the art work, of women with babies suckling and an automatic rifle around her neck. It left me speechless at the struggle for life around the planet, and what we take for granted. Pictures of kids struggling to get a glimpse of school books so they can learn a language, and struggles in life altogether left me speechless…
I could have spent all day in this shop and mourned over aspects of humanity and celebrated this man’s work. It left me impressed to do more with my life and resources, and encourage others to do the same.
Every morning Teresa and I would go to a square where we would have coffee and talks about our adventure. We sat and admired the views and the history of Mijas, and watched the elders of the village hurry to their favorite spots on the square. These are the people I hope to communicate with someday. The stories they could share of the people and places they have seen. It is so rare to see elders of communities any more. These are the unspoken beautiful things that you have to slow down for. The elders of Mijas is one of them.
On our last day together, Teresa and I headed with our friends to Malaga. This is was a great city a bit north of Mijas where once again the warm Mediterranean breeze kissed our faces. We toured the cathedral of Malaga, tasted the best port I have ever had, ate Italian food on the streets where Spanish dancers were sharing their art with the foodies. We had hoped to have more time in Malaga, as it was a city full of life and culture. It reminded us of a small Barcelona where life and family seemed to collide on all sides. The boardwalk along the sea was teaming with life in the open air markets and small tapas and wine bars dotted our path. We were walking rather quickly now as Teresa was about to head back to the states via London. Gary kept telling us we were walking too slowly and needed to hurry. Teresa always walks fast, but in Spain, she seemed to blend in with the rhythms of the people and culture and enjoyed every step she took. I kept pace with Gary, and would look behind me to see Teresa engaged in deep and meaningful conversation with Lisa. It put a smile on my face.
We loved our time here and as I mentioned in the previous blog, Spain has captured a little piece of our hearts. We fell in love with the people, the culture, and a nation that we knew not. I was reminded of a verse that I have kept close to my heart for about 15 years:
“Surely you will summon a nation that you know not, and a nation that does not know you will hasten to you because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel has endowed you with splendor.” Isaiah 55:5
We love you Spain. We see the glory of God all over you. Who knows what God may do? Perhaps God….
My Next blog: My time with G42