Life goes on in Valencia, Spain
It's 7:15 at night in Valencia, Spain, and the church bells are ringing an unusual tune. Not the usual long and slow knell for each hour but short, happy peels for a special occasion. We are sitting in the little "plaça" in front of our apartment, sipping wine as dusk is falling. It's a mostly quiet, pedestrian area with a small fountain, some trees and everything else made of stone. Children's voices echo off the walls of this place, hidden behind the old Cathedral.
This November, after a very busy fall, Jim and I have returned to our old haunts in Valencia, and this time, we are bringing friends along. We like this city in Spain because of its sunshine and it's slower rhythm. As soon as we step off the plane, we smell the air and we already feel at home. Each morning, deep blue skies and sun welcome our rising, and outside the windows, life proceeds at an easy pace.
This morning, we strolled down to the huge central market to buy a few vegetables. The market building itself is an amazing modernist construction, made of brick, steel and tile. It's central dome lets the light shine in. We walk among the many booths that offer just about anything you can think of: meats of all varieties, a lot of seafood, fresh fruits and especially oranges, vegetables with the emphasis on peppers, mushrooms (it's chanterelle season), huge bags of spices and nuts and dried fruits and more. I want to try a few of the local cheeses. The cheesemonger is being chatted up by two men; one insists on kissing her hand before he goes. She turns to me and says, "It appears that I have numerous boyfriends...!" as she rolls her eyes and her husband looks on. We also buy some famous Spanish ham and decide to get one of the more expensive versions.
Just across the street, we visit the old market, built in 1483, where bankers traded and the maritime court was held. Its splendor is in its tall twisted stone columns and beautiful Gothic Mediterranean architecture. We also visit the cellars where we pause to hum and the acoustics echo the sounds back to us.
Though for us, this is a break from work, worries and election drama, around us life goes on in Spanish style. Palm trees, people taking coffee breaks on the plazas, animated conversations in traditional Spanish and local Valenciano, and those church bells keeping track of time remind me that wherever we are, we deal with our circumstances and make the best of them as we can.