It's been wintery-mix for the past few days here in CT and the view from The Booth House (as the neighbors call it, despite the fact that it hasn't been in that family since about 1812 - the Booth family - the northern, liberal half of the same Booth family that assassinated Lincoln) is one straight from a Christmas card - now all I need is to strap a sleigh to Luna and we'll be a modern day Courier and Ives.
All this Winter chill gets me thinking about warm weather. A few years ago I was finishing up college at Boston University. I finished up a semester early and I remember plotting what I'd do with that extra semester.
When my sister graduated from college a few years before, she wanted a truck and trailer (she's in the horse business). When I graduated, I wanted a trip around Europe - some of it on bicycle. At that time, I was getting ready for my first Ironman in Lake Placid and wanted to get in training amidst the trip. I planned a tour around Italy, Austria and Spain - planning hotel stays, historic stops and finding pools, places to train and people to train with. Some of my favorite and funniest memories were my pool escapades in Vienna! Before planning the trip, I met a man online (that sounds a lot worse than it is) named Andy. He and his wife were living in Southern Spain and beginning to build a triathlon training facility. They came from Northern England and along with their two daughters, agreed that sunny Spain was healthier for all!
Talking and emailing with Andy and his wife, we became instant friends. Andy and Tracy since then, opened their doors to the creation of the Strong Like Bull training camp, now entering it's 3rd year! On these chilly days, I think of their warmth and of the land I call home.
I've always loved Spain - I've traveled there more than a dozen times at this point - all over, but Andalucia, the southern region and its capital city, Sevilla, have me in a spell. Studying Spanish for as long as I can remember, the connection has always been to this small area. Spanish is spoken the world over - in different accents and dialects, and yet none is more beautiful than in that small region. So too are the people, warm and kind - A perfect example is my friend Alf - a flight attendant I became instant friends with on the plane ride home. Alf visits when he flies into New York and I always have a place to stay in Madrid and Granada.
While talking triathlon is a great passion (well, talking in general), talking about Spain, about Spanish history and culture is a pleasure. Getting to share those loves with new groups of athletes every February makes me incredibly happy. Many of our campers travel from CT, NY and MA - places with some of the oldest US history - it always astounds me that our oldest history, is young for many of the places we visit!
I was chatting with a friend the other day about the changes of power in Spain - there was only one time in history when all faiths lived in peace and that was under the control of the Moors. Now there's a thought - live in peace - all faiths, all practices, all walks of life. We all know what happened when the Moors were removed from power - a little movement, called the Inquisition.
It's a good reminder at this time of year - to keep peace in our hearts, no matter what.