Facing Fears and Finding Joy on the Road to Ronda

On my last day in Seville, I felt less of the usual uneasiness when packing up and moving to a new place.  I felt ready to start the next chapter.  Facing fears of solo travel and driving to Ronda, Spain.  Ready to say goodbye to Seville.  Stacy wasn’t there to split a taxi fare, so I agonized about saving money and taking the bus. Walk 8 minutes to the bus stop and pay 1.40 Euros and or walk nowhere and pay 12 Euros for a taxi. I previewed the route in my mind; the warrens of narrow, cobbled streets girdled with sidewalks varying from 3 feet to 2 inches wide depending on how close the street pressed up against the building it traced.

Then I recalled other bus rides:

  • Spending an eternity squinting at signs to puzzle out which corner to stand on and which number to get me there and feeling judged by the locals.
  • Bad-tempered bus drivers scowling at me for not knowing the fare amount, not having exact change and not knowing which coins represent what.
  • Waiting 30 minutes past the scheduled bus arrival time, giving up and walking 3 minutes then seeing the bus speed past.
  • Giving up entirely and facing blisters over the embarrassment of choosing incorrectly.
  • Ending up in a deserted parking lot miles from anywhere in the middle of the night in Hungary.
  • Being proud of myself for finding the right bus with ease, only to find that it was packed to the gills with loud school children loathe to make room for us and our bags.

Taxi it is then!

Screw the few Euros I would be saving.  Money’s just like Doritos, right?  Don’t worry, I’ll make more?  Somehow. Hopefully. Someday after I figure out what I want to be when I grow up!

First car rental of the trip

My brother found an awesome route for our Oregon trip so I asked him for suggestions on a scenic route from Seville to Ronda.  He replied, “LMGTFY” (Let Me Google That For You 😏) A TripAdvisor forum suggested a route. I mapped it out and downloaded offline google maps of the area.  Yeah, I can hear you now, “But you worked for Garmin! Why didn’t you bring a Garmin?” Well, not long before I left home, I accidentally left my car unlocked in my driveway overnight and someone stole my Garmin. Money and suitcase space were both in high demand so a new Garmin wasn’t in the cards.

Once inside the brand new (no pressure!) Fiat 500, I looked at the gear shifter.  There was an N and an R which seemed pretty straightforward, but couldn’t find Drive or Park! I googled something dumb like “What letters for Drive and Park Spanish cars”.  No joy there, but a guide to driving in Spain came up so I figured I should read that. I noted that there are unmarked speed cameras that can ticket you by mail.  Ok, no driving the customary 9 miles above the speed limit then. I elected to err on the side of looking like a dumbass over having an accident in the rental parking lot and proving it. I asked an employee for clarification. He did a great job of not letting it show that he thought I was an idiot and showed me how it worked.

Just breathe

Next, I channeled the spirit of Marcie who doesn’t lose her cool even when driving in central Paris, with its tangle of clogged, one-way streets in a tiny BMW with our moms crammed in the backseat with luggage up to the ceiling and a GPS uselessly searching for satellites while I navigated using the rental agency map. The calm she exuded was contagious. Soon the cries from the backseat changed from, “Marcie? Do you know what you’re doing? Do you know where we’re going? Are we going the wrong way? Were we supposed to turn there?” to, “Ooh! Look at that!  It’s the sister to the Statue of Liberty!  Look, Notre Dame!  There’s the Eiffel Tower!” Intentions to pick up the car on the outskirts and heading directly to the coast, morphed into an impromptu driving tour of Paris that we couldn’t have planned better and a good story to laugh about later.

I had to stop many times to admire the beauty of Andalusia

The glories of driving in Andalusia

The drive to Ronda turned out to be so much more amazing than I’d dared hope for. For the most part, the roads were nice and wide (200 times wider than roads in England, plus these have shoulders).  Driving was a joy.  The medians were brimming over with brilliant mafuchsia (you know, a cross between magenta and fuchsia) oleander bushes tall enough to block the view of oncoming traffic.  Then came the fields of sunflowers.  I saw this many sunflowers driving through Nebraska once, but let me tell you, seeing field after field of sunflowers on the sumptuous Andalusian hills with bright red bursts of poppies sprinkled in took it to a new level.  The sunflower’s heads all brightly gazed toward the sun and stood in neat rows blanketing the hills until the hills grew to hazy blue mountains in the distance.

Random castle on the way to Ronda Spain

Also spotted on the drive:

Three castles (two towering over quaint, white villages); a huge herd of goats; olive, chestnut, and cork tree groves; a shepherd herding his sheep; stately blue mountains; and vast mounds of wildflowers in yellows and reds and whites and fuchsia, blue and purple decorating every nook and cranny. The air with so full their sweet scents that I could even smell it over the new car smell with the windows up.

Charming white hilltop town in Southern Spain

Intense Joy

Many times, the view would be so intense that I couldn’t help but squeal with delight. I wished there was someone else along to appreciate, photograph or share it, but my longing for companionship never overshadowed the joy, wonder, profound sense of gratitude and I suppose pride that this is my life.

Stopped to photograph the flowers on the Road to Ronda

 

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  • Unknown

    June 21, 2018 at 12:14 am
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    Love that you are blogging about your adventures!! Pictures too! This will allow for great memories in the future. Take Care!

  • Unknown

    June 20, 2018 at 9:55 am
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    I agree. Yet I'll be there soon to join Christina.

  • Unknown

    June 20, 2018 at 2:02 am
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    I appreciate so much what you're doing in sharing your journey through this blog. I can feel like I'm traveling and experiencing with you, you […] Read MoreI appreciate so much what you're doing in sharing your journey through this blog. I can feel like I'm traveling and experiencing with you, you describe the scenes so beautifully! Read Less

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About Me

Hi, I'm Christina. I love travel, cats, gardens, house sitting, birds, painting, dogs, museums, good food & drink, you know - all the good stuff! I've been working on my first memoir, Magicians, Cross Dressers and My Uterus while living my second!

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