We end our “From the Cave” series with a beautiful piece by Deep Travel alumna, Stacy Boyington. Stacy joined us on our adventure to Andalusia, where we went in search of duende. During one of the workshop sessions, she remembered the words of a friend back home….
TAZA AZUL (BLUE MUG)
By Stacy Boyington
I am too tired to rush anything or to go anywhere on this grey, damp morning. Not even to la cueva de Paco, located just behind and up the path from my own cave dwelling. At Paco’s, fresh juice lovingly squeezed from Granada oranges, hot black tea in an adorned silver pot, toast with butter, and sweet cake made by the invisible hands of Paco’s sister await my arrival for breakfast. The round table in the dimly lit room where we dine and clumsily attempt to communicate between Spanish and English, is draped with a floor-length cloth, concealing an electric heater to warm our legs. This is one of many thoughtful gestures our morning host bestows upon us during these bone-chilling, rainy days of spring.
Though I slept as if in a coma, I wake in the windowless dark to fuzzy thoughts. Was it the Rioja, the late-night, meat-laden meal, the ten miles of walking up and down and up the hills again through-dissected cobblestone calles? Or is it a fatigue I carry with me across the oceans?
Emerging from my whitewashed gypsy cave, I scan the valley and I am astounded yet again by the magnificent umber palace which lies before me across the river. The Alhambra! This destination has called to me, tugged at my longing for a decade. Standing before its Moorish grandeur, I quietly acknowledge my providential presence. I deeply breathe in the chilled air, blessing the day ahead and all the mystery it holds.
Turning away from the iron-gated entrance to my cave and the incessant crowing from the arrogant rooster perched upon it like a masthead on a ship, my blistered feet propel me down a single-file, earthen path. Thick blooms of spring mustard engulf me until I pass the neighborhood’s once communal stone oven, and I reach the carmens of the Albaycin nestled below. I no longer need to think my way to Plaza Larga. My body holds the directional memory. The Albaycin wakes slowly. My gait matches its tempo.
Approaching the Plaza, I stop to buy miniature Spanish palmieres from the tiny panaderia and bright tangerines from the mercado across the street. These are the offerings I bring to share with “the real writers,” the published masters who write novels, books of truth, articles for magazines, enchanted poems, online tales, and stories to entice travelers. They attend the workshop convening in the apartment above the inlaid pomegranate square, where I join them for our morning session. I write for no one.
Before settling in my chosen chair, I find the electric kettle in the kitchen and pour myself a cup of steaming water. I wrap my trembling hands around the heated mug to warm and calm my spinning thoughts.
On this morning, our facilitator, Erin, begins our workshop by asking us to close our eyes. She guides us to feel our hearts, to feel the duende which we have come in search of from far and wide. She persuades us to imagine our tender hearts immersed in warm water, then in water which reaches the boiling point, until all the water evaporates and we feel our hearts left in a scalding pan, scorched by flames. Horrified, I watch my heart turn from soft pink to rubber grey, to charred black. Yet, under the veil of char, a ventricle of crimson remains.
I want to stop! I want to rescue my seared, still-glowing heart before it is too late!
I open my eyes, relieved to return to the present where hope still exists. My gaze settles on the warm cup I grasp, and I realize it is in fact a blue mug.
Prior to my departure from the San Francisco Bay, my treasured Oregonian friend, sensing my trepidation to actually participate in the writing during my upcoming adventures, said to me, “if all you write is ‘blue mug,’ it is enough. This is your journey. Find your way. You are enough.”
Granada is forever my Blue Mug.
I live afloat in Sausalito. A California native, I’m drawn to the water and to the mountains, hence, life on a bay and a 10-year enchantment, playing and working in the Rockies. I’m most content spending time in nature, though I love a good city day filled with food, art, and sidewalk cafe people watching. My work life has been primarily in creative realms. Currently, I work for a perfume company. I walk, a lot. I walk for exercise, discovery, and meditation. Swimming became an important part of my life three years ago for healing and freedom. I believe there are no accidents in life. Curiosity runs in my veins. There are always at least three books by my bedside, along with multiple issues of Vanity Fair. The most precious part of my life is my family. My adult offspring and their families are my constant inspiration and my deepest love.