Timeline: July 12th – 18th
It turned out that the bedroom Francois was to occupy did have three beds but would have been way to small to accommodate the three of us, so Joanna and I simply brought up our sleeping bag and pads and slept outside on the large patio, around the side and out of sight. Warm at night, we’d sleep comfortably and I would enjoy a new sensation, something I’d been missing for many years.
Since the age of eight my eyesight has been terrible, robbing me of the joy of lying out at night and seeing a star filled sky. But that was four eye surgeries ago, including two to remove cataracts and with my new found dramatically improved vision, for the first time in over forty years I could see the nighttime sky while sleeping out of doors.
Thus would begin a week of eating, drinking, conversation, relaxing, sunning, hiking, biking, long discussions about music, listening to said music, preparing food, and shopping. Each floor would take care of their own expenses, splitting them amongst the occupants (Babette used an Android app to keep track of ours) and over the course of the week each of us would cook or shop at least once.
We had two big parties, one Monday night to celebrate Anders and Joss’s 60th Birthdays and then a final farewell party to celebrate Silvane’s. As would be the case for most of the week, folks wouldn’t even gather until 8:00pm or so and eating wouldn’t commence in earnest until after 10:00pm, timing we would eventually grow used to. Much like the potluck parties we all host at home, it was a great opportunity to try favorite recipes.
A typical day would involve most folks rising between 8am and 9am (I’d have been up with the sun at 7am) and enjoy a leisurely breakfast an hour or so later. We’d all scatter to our various activities and re-group later in the afternoon, sometimes after 3pm for lunch in anticipation of another late night dinner.
Our contribution one of the nights was to shop for and cook up chicken fajitas, served with pita bread instead of tortillas. This went over well, a welcome change for our Europe based companions. And for desert for the final party, Joanna made one of Silvane’s favorites, Tiramisu.
Joanna and I did get three good bike rides in, two on the same route. The first, early in the week, took us north out of town along the coast riding towards the town of Saint Feliu de Guixols. This was a narrow curvy two-lane road with many ascents and descents, hard work for those not used to climbing much. The day was a bit overcast with a chance of rain in the forecast, so we decided to keep the ride short in order to get back into town while still dry.
The next two rides, one on Friday, our next to last day in town took us Northwest to the town of Llagostera. This is a ride favored by many of the local cyclists, as we saw quite a few during our rides. It starts out flat leaving town and then climbs gradually to about 1,400 feet at a summit that takes you down into the valley where Llagostera is located.
The first time you make a climb like this, you are not sure how far you have to go to reach the summit, so you hold back a bit to conserve energy. The second time is better as you know how much further it is to the top, and you can increase your pace secure in the knowledge that you will have enough in the tank to ride well. There is a small bike store on the corner as you enter Llagostera, where we stopped briefly to look at the merchandise. A bit further in town was a small Dia market where we picked up bottled water to replenish our supplies for the ride back to the house.
Around 4:00pm that last day Francois, Jean-Jacques, Keith, Anders, the boyfriend of one of Joss’ daughters and myself walked into town to play Petanque for a few hours. We played two complete games with the losing team buying a round of beers after each, an activity that consumed quite a few hours. We returned to the house and then all remaining members, still nearly sixteen of us walked into town for a late last night’s dinner at El Rincon de Galicia, a restaurant specializing in cuisine from the Galicia region of Spain, food we were familiar with after our journey through that region.
It was a nice way to end our time in Tossa de Mar, surrounded by new and old friends. Throughout the week I marveled again at the chance circumstance that would bring Francois and I together those many years ago at Pelekas. Our visits since then have been regular, sometimes with many years in between but our lives have mirrored each other as we have grown and matured. To get to spend a week with this group is an experience we will not soon forget and as we approach this time in our lives where retirement gives us the opportunity to travel more, I’m hoping that the times in between in the future will not be so long.