Hasta luego, Spain! Thanks for everything!
I like(d) the beach:
the beach for walking, the beach for reading, the beach for flopping on a towel in the sun with all the other walruses, the beach for glimpsing marine life (usually dead: starfish, turtle, cuttle bones, crabs; but sometimes not: sea anemones, turbots, anonymous fishes, crabs), the beach for standing on and watching the magnificent freighters plod out to sea, the beach for beachcombing, the beach for running into the water, the beach for strolling among the playing dogs and holding your breath for one to come pet you, the beach for getting sand everywhere in the kitchen and feeling so lucky to have that problem.
I like(d) reading:
on the Cerro de Santa Catalina, probably my favorite hill in the whole world; in Parque de Isabel la Católica, and, because I do not fear superlatives, I will describe it as probably my favorite park in the world (where you can sit among eucalyptus trees and chamomile flowers and hear the jurassic shrieks of peacocks); on the east side of the beach with all the sun and on the middle of the beach with a full view of the horizon; at the café by my school where, if I sat long enough, they’d give me a free piece of tortilla and some nice bread.
I like(d) all the places to wander:
weekly walkabouts in and near Vitoria-Gasteiz; a (unusually) sunny trek up the Basque coast; a hike in the Pyrenees that included so many sheep and sleeping in a church’s yard and resupplying at a magical van that appeared in a town with no grocery store; adventure running (er, hobbling) along Costa Brava; a short but delightful trip mostly along El Camino del Norte; walking to school everyday, first along the beach and then through my favorite park and then along the canal where one day I saw a seagull thoroughly bread a turbot fish in sand and then swallow it whole.
I like(d) the signs:
above all, I loved the red and white blazes that indicate you are on a GR trail (Gran Recorrido, Groteroutepaden, Grande Randonnée, Grande Rota, depending on your language) because, and there is no way to make this sound less lofty, when you are on the GR you are both home and on a thrilling adventure. Other signs and blazes were also beautiful and always looked to be made and placed with great care and thoughtfulness.
I like(d) the post horns:
most of the post horns I came across were during walks on Mondays between classes, in a neighborhood with intricately pollarded trees and big and fancy houses. I can’t subject you to all of the post horns I’ve collected because I think that that would be a bit much, but these are some of my favorites. I think we can all agree with Kierkegaard when he says: “Praised be the post horn!”
I like(d) so much more, of course!:
petite cafés con leche, kickboxing classes, tortilla de patata, very kind co-teachers and goofball students, a library with books organized by country of author, the baby ducks in the canal in May, picnics in the park, tide pools, sidra, neat buildings, the emu duo in Parque de Isabel—truly I could, breathlessly, go on and on. Instead, I’ll paraphrase: “España es magnífica. Al visitarla, se siente un placer inexplicable.”