Desert Stories, Desert Stones

Writing Prompt (Natural Abundance): Find five pretty or interesting rocks.

Last month we visited Ray at his home at Sun City in Palm Desert, CA. It was really nice to see him after a year of pandemic-mandated distance — and the last time I saw him was the day Mom passed away. So it was a relief to reacquaint under more normal circumstances, even though we social distanced responsibly with masks and an outside patio visit.

Last June, Paul and I were guests at our friend Scotty’s family cottage on the Isle of Springs — a perfect place to get away from the world’s craziness. We cooked, kayaked, walked through the island woodlands, sipped cocktails, scouted the beaches for sea glass and dug for littleneck clams, listened to music, played card games, put together jigsaw puzzles, and enjoyed fine sunset views over the Sheepscot river to the mainland.

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Iberia and Morocco, 2000

A circuit through the al-Gharb (Algarve, Portugal), across the Strait of Gibraltar to al-Magrib (Morocco), then back to the Iberian Peninsula through al-Andalus (Andalucia, Spain) — a journey through Arabic lands!  We met in Madrid having traveled from London via different means:  I arrived fresh via 1.5 hr British Midlands flight, and Paul weary and worn from a 36 hr slow train odyssey through France and half of Spain.

The next night we took the sleek and shiny Ferrol “Rias Gallegas” train to Galicia where at dawn we crossed into Portugal and arrived in Porto for a seaside lunch, then onto Lisbon.  We made a side trip to visit the Castelo dos Mouros, an Arabic hilltop castle dating from the 8th century, and to taste the queijadas, or delectable cheese and spice pastries I has “discovered” on my first trip to the area in 1990 and had since enjoyed at Chave d’Ouro (“Golden Key”) Portuguese bakery across the street from my East Cambridge apartment where I lived after university.

From the seaward capital we headed to southern Portugal, the Algarve to enjoy a couple days of beachy R&R then to hip Tarifa, Spain. The hills around this town were dotted with wind turbines, symbol of Spain’s emergence as a green energy superpower.  We then departed Europe from Algeciras en route to Tangiers, gateway to the great African continent.

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