Thinking what to write in my first post of the year, I thought to do it about my first day on planet Earth. (The one in the picture with the face, “how did I end up here” is me in the only convertible I ever had). Happy New Year, and sorry in advance for writing such a meaningless post.
After rewinding the tape of my life to the beginning and pressing the play button, in the first frame appear the Medieval Walls, the Cathedral of Santa Maria and the Episcopal Palace of Astorga, capital of a region called Maragateria. In retrospect, it’d give the impression that my parents had agreed beforehand that the birth of their firstborn would take place on neutral territory, because my mother is from Bierzo and my father from Cepeda (regions surrounding Maragateria). I was, therefore, born in the province of Leon, in the northwest corner of Spain, where the central plateau (Meseta) loses its plain appearance and begins to grow impatient at the sight of the peaks of the Cantabrian Range to the north and the Mounts of Leon to the west.
Astorga is proud of its Roman past linked to the gold mines at Las Medulas (my mother’s village), but I would say it’s still more proud to be the crossroads of two great paths: the Silver’s Route (Ruta de la Plata) that crosses from north to south binding the green Cantabrian mountains with the Andalusian scorching ground, and especially by the St James’ Way (Camino de Santiago) that crosses from east to west and has been busy for centuries with pilgrims coming from all over Europe in their quest for the Finis-terre.
But there are still two significant elements of Astorga I cannot go without mentioning. The first is the palace that made blushing with envy to Walt Disney, designed by who, in my humble opinion, has been the greatest genius of architecture: Gaudí, son of the inexhaustible mother of great artists that is Catalonia. And the second element is chocolate. Simply the best (no bias here… I think).
The first sounds I heard when from the womb of my mom came out into this world were the drums of the procession in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that at that moment paraded in front of the hospital. Who knows if my taste for ritual and ceremony will not start because of such primeval experience. The liturgical music of any of the spiritual traditions of the world (when I get to experience it beyond the chauvinism that unfortunately and inevitably has impregnated it along the millennia), has the ability to connect me to a primordial state of consciousness beyond the ordinary. Sometimes, some ceremonies carry me to the place where the thin veil that separates life from death undulates with vibrations that resonate syncopated from both places, canceling some and amplifying others.