Published: June 21st 2008June 21st 2008
We have been zigzagging across Spain for roughly a week and a half now. Each day its natural beauty and the charming nature of the people here continually amaze me. Tours like this are often difficult to route sensibly, so rather than hitting the cities in their logical geographical order we end up traversing all over the map in odd patterns. We like to call this the “Star of David” tour. In any case, it’s an interesting way to see the country.
We embarked yesterday on a beautiful drive straight up the country’s midsection, part of which we had seen the day before traveling south from Madrid to Granada. Granada, a small city at the foot of a beautiful range of mountains in the southern part of the country, was just as beautiful as I had been told to expect. Now we were headed back north through Madrid and on to Valladolid. The drive featured countless vast, sprawling valleys of lush farmland, embraced by rolling green hills in every direction. The terrain was dotted with a mix of dry chaparral and healthy looking trees, as well as symmetrical rows and squares of agricultural bounty. The occasional small village or ancient church
rose up amidst the foothills and the highway was frequented by swaths of brilliant yellow goldenrod, creating a classic picturesque scenery. We were fortunate to not encounter any traffic around Madrid. The road was quite bumpy, which made getting any rest near impossible, but I was happy to be up and alert for the day’s journey.
Valladolid seemed to be an ordinary small city without any real immediate allure, but charmingly Spanish still. The venue was small and dimly lit, with antique furniture around and a Sistine Chapel style painting on the stage. Soundcheck was wacky, very tough sound on stage and we were all pretty tired. But afterwards we were treated to a nice dinner - bits of tapas-style items such as calamari, salad, Spanish tortilla (a fluffy, thick pancake/quiche type favorite made of eggs and potatoes) and zesty Spanish olives. After a quick stop at the hotel we headed to he gig. Just as the night before in Granada, it was a small city and an odd venue so we had no idea what to expect; also just like Granada, it was jam-packed when we arrived. The crowd was very warm and kind and we put on an
excellent show. We played two encores for the third night in a row, which left me exhausted and drenched with sweat as usual.
Hanging around outside after the show, I began chatting with some fans who were heading to bar a little ways outside of town, and they invited me to come along. Despite my desire (and need) for a full nights rest, I decided to join them. I knew that it meant I would be out ‘til the wee hours of the morning and I may have a tricky time getting back to the hotel, but they were incredibly nice and overjoyed that I was going to tag along. After checking on our morning departure time and letting the band know I was going out, I hopped into a car with a few people and we sped out of town. They had said it was maybe 10 minutes away, but I could soon tell that it was much farther. We were on an empty highway in the middle of nowhere with nothing in sight for a long while. I started to worry a little about being able to get back to my hotel by morning, but they assured me
that it wouldn’t be a problem. At that point I put all worries behind me and decided to simply have faith that it would work out.
We eventually reached our destination - a quaint little bar called Café-Tal in their town, Medina del Campo. There was a rowdy cast of characters on hand and they all were in a fantastic mood. A few of them had been at the show, and I was soon introduced to everyone as the American Bajista (bassist). I believe the bar was in after-hours mode, for drinks were free flowing and I didn’t see the bartender take money from anyone. They all spoke very little English, so I had a grand time conversing with everyone in my best, broken Spanish. My new friend Maria from Argentina, who had rode out with us in the car, spoke decent English and helped me out with translations as needed. There were a few musicians there and we were all high on each other talking about music and passion and such. One, a pianista named Raul, took to me especially and we spent many fun minutes in conversation trying to translate each other’s sentiments about the importance of music and art. To me it was all an amazing moment, and I was immediately glad that I went.
After a while, a group of us headed to another friend’s bar, which was called Downtown. I was introduced to a tasty beverage called Calimocho, which is literally red wine and coca-cola. I was incredibly amused by the people I was with and the time flew by. Sometime around daybreak Maria helped me find my way back to the hotel via train and taxi. Of course, it had all worked out just fine…
At the hotel, a stroke of luck - our morning departure time was originally supposed to be 10 am (by this time it was 8 am), but Craig had left a note on my bed that read, “12:00 lobby.” Two extra hours of sleep!