Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 141: Ronda... Wow...

In Osho's Tao: The Golden Gate, The Venerable Master said:

"The supreme Tao is formless, yet it produces and nurtures Heaven and Earth. The supreme Tao has no desires, yet by its power the sun and the moon revolve in their orbits. The supreme Tao is nameless, yet it ever supports all things. I do not know its name but for title call it Tao."

Some call it Tao, I call it Ronda.

Ronda's famous Puente Neuvo.

Andalusia is a one of the most breathtaking places that I have ever seen. It is a treasure trove of quaint villages who's white washed walls bathe in endless sunshine. Its rolling green hills and lush valleys have often appeared in my dreams. Its natural perfection tingles the tongue and lingers on the palate. It's a feast for the soul as well as the eyes.

Considering my past experiences at the Alegraluz Tantra Center, I was hard-pressed to believe my life could get any better. The morning after Martin's weekend Tantra workshop, we were sitting around having breakfast. Today Martin was driving to his house in Ronda to take his son Liam to school. Anna asked me "Are you going?" As I got in the car, I would shortly discover this was one of the best decisions I ever made.

The drive through the mountain road was awesome!
Too bad we weren't on motorcycles!

Even before I saw Ronda, I fell in love with the scenery. About an hour's drive from San Pedro, Ronda is nestled amongst majestic mountain ranges. The appropriately named, Serranía de Ronda wind their way from the coast to the village. 12 years ago Ronda was only accessible to people with strong constitutions and 4x4 trucks. Thankfully Spain built a modern road which allows easy access to this spectacular city. If you're not too distracted by the views and motorcycles, along the way you can catch glimpses of the old road. Martin told stories and showed me interesting points along the way but I could only divert so much of my attention. When we turned a corner and saw those white buildings for the first time, it was magical. Sunlight beamed upon the white houses and Ronda shone like a pearl.

Ronda off in the distance.

Getting out of the car and squeezing my pack through the half open French door, felt like my first day in Italy. It was fun for me to experience where Martin calls home. While he rents a building to house the Tantra center, he owns a quaint apartment in Ronda. It was small but cozy, with a small kitchen, living room, bathroom, and two bedrooms on the second floor. Once we settled in he offered to take me for a tour.

Martin's street!
In Ronda you will get robbed if you don't have a dog.

Having lived in Ronda for seven years, Martin knew enough about Ronda to make me think he'd lived here his whole life. He took me down his street and around the outskirts of the town. It has been under the control of the Romans, Christians, and Muslims, and Spanish, and each has left their mark. Ronda is not only culturally unique but geographically impressive. Sought after not only for its views but a spring on top of the hill, It's easy to see why it was so highly fought over. Today, Ronda is the third most visited place in Spain; where all of Europe comes to vacation. Martin's tour was my favorite tour since I've been in Europe. He seemed to know about everything, which was excellent because I would soon be giving a similar tour.

The entrance to the old city.
The stairs on the left are 3,000 years old!
The Christians destroyed all the mosques' domes and made steeples.
Microsoft background.
A panorama of the old entrance to the city.
Costume or not, I was still the biggest cock.
In order to be considered a gentlemen you have to own a horse.
Here's 'Pene Rock'. Heh heh.
Rooooooollllling hills.
"Just one more step back, you're almost in the frame, Martin!"
A long way down.
Which is the new house? 
Reasons why Ronda is my favorite.
Even the panoramas don't do it justice.
A beautiful system of carefully dug irrigation ditches.
Heat will kill all of the wildlife soon – I was there at the best time of year.
The Romans carved this pathway out of the solid rock.
Not sure how this moss worked but it makes for a great photo.
A house's spring fed sink.
One of the ruins near Ronda's old mill.

When we got home I received an email from my childhood friend, Monica, who I was hoping to meet. She told me that she arrived in Spain safely and gave me a run-down of her itinerary. I couldn't believe it, she was coming to Ronda tomorrow! I went to bed that night thankful to be in such a magnificent place and excited to share it with Monica and David mañana.

It was shortly after 3 by the time we met. Walking to McDonalds, Martin and I bet on whether they would be there or not. Sure enough, there they were, crossing the street with their backs turned to us. Locked onto my target, I took off at a full sprint. Closer, closer, closer... When she turned around it was too late. She screamed and David almost had a heart attack as I picked Monica up and twirled her around. Hugging her and beaming, she started laughing. The feeling was surreal. I never imagined I would see Monica in Europe. What a treat. I introduced Martin and we headed off to get ice cream and coffee.

No matter how long it's been since I've seen any of my friends, when I see them again, I always feel like nothing has changed. It was the same with Monica. I didn't want to talk, I just wanted to enjoy her company. I'm getting all fuzzy reminiscing. Phew!

It was such a pleasure to see Monica and David!

I was excited to share Martin's knowledge by giving Monica and David a tour. Earlier that morning Martin took me for a second tour, down one of the cliffs that Ronda's famous Puente Nuevo bridges. It was an adventure down narrow trails, through crumbling ruins, and across treacherous drops that was not for the faint of heart. As Monica and David worried about getting home before dark, I thought this would be a great route to take them on.

Isn't she the cutest?
David wouldn't follow me across the cliff... What's wrong with him?
Go to Ronda as soon as you can.
Seriously, buy the next plane ticket.
I miss Ronda already!

The tour began well but as it continued, their aversion to danger increased. Finally we came upon a bit where we had to shimmy along a narrow edge with a steep drop below us. It was too much for them so we turned back. "Everyone travels differently," I said. We continued the tour along a more appropriate route but soon it was time for them to go. We had a beautiful time together. Luckily they were staying just minutes away from San Pedro. I knew I would see them again in a few days. With warm hearts we parted ways and I made my way back to Martin's apartment.

The sun sets after an amazing day.

I was looking forward to spending a few days in Ronda, but the next morning Martin told me that I was needed back in San Pedro. Initially I was slightly upset but when I found the girls would be practicing their massage training on me I had my seatbelt buckled in a flash.


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