Sluggish and sedentary peoples, such as the Ancient Egyptians– with their concept of an afterlife journey through the Field of Reeds– project on to the next world the journeys they failed to make in this one.
– Bruce Chatwin (The Songlines)
The mountain in the picture is Maroma, a 2065mt beast which sits above the village of Sedella in Southern Spain. My dad’s rented a place there for the summer and invited me out for some ‘bonding’.
He lived in this part of Spain for a couple of decades and conducted guided tours up this mountain – which is how he met his Dutch girlfriend, triggering a move to Amsterdam where he’s been for about 15 years. He’s increasingly missed the Spanish landscape.
It’s two decades since I did any serious walking or climbing, and it wouldn’t have occurred to me to undertake anything other than a couple of medium-effort walks had my dad not said: the area has many good walks at a lower level for all ages, so I am hoping I may be able to tempt you on one or two.
Red rag to a bull! Does he think I can’t manage the whole thing?
So now I’m determined to do all 2065mt of it and shall report back in due course with smug looking shot of Me Perched At Summit. I have thrown back the red rag: actually I’d like to climb to the top, but I’ll understand if you don’t feel up to it…
My dad has always explored – he’s canoed, climbed and hiked his way around the world, from the Sahara to the polar regions. He’s in pretty good shape for a guy of 72 or 73, whatever he is (we don’t do birthdays). I was always surprised, given how alike we are, to have not inherited his wanderlust. I figured maybe I just did it via my imagination, in my writing; that travel doesn’t have to be a physical thing – it’s a concept, a state of mind, a way of thinking… it’s a curiosity.
Now I look at the Chatwin quote above and I wonder… is that enough?
Perhaps writers are also sluggish and sedentary people at heart, projecting into our fiction the journeys and adventures we fail to take for real. Perhaps we think we’re more open-minded than we are. Perhaps we feel we’re achieving more than we are. Perhaps we’re so lost in the pretence, we can’t even see it for what it is.
Is it enough, that armchair curiosity? I always thought so… now I’m not sure.
I am a woman with Missions. But I’ll start with that mountain…