Where the Wind is Dry

Alquézar, Aragones, Spain

We stood on the top of the hill and the wind was dry. It was dry and it blew hard. The wind is never this way in the city. It was neither strong, nor noisy; you could not even say it was windy. All you knew was that it was very quiet. Just the burning sun over your head, and the wind that dried the hills in this part of Aragon. The Somontano region. Your skin was being burnt, acquiring the color of the red sandy rocks that surrounded you. The wind blew hard till you seemed to have no flesh left on your face and hands. You touched yourself: skin and bones. And the hot rocks under your feet. This is how the wind was in August in this part of the country. It made you become quiet and not feel anything except respect for this land and its people, it made you be strong.

You walk uphill. Burnt by the sun. The stone paved road to the castle is steep and hurts your feet. You turn again. All you hear is the silence of the dry wind. You want so much to walk this road.

This land is not mine, but I would fight for it. With no emotions, no feelings, no patriotism. I would fight for it willingly, consciously, with precision, like operating a delicate machinery. With passion for living. This is the only thing one can do under this dry wind and the burning sun.

I like to walk the roads that are hard. I do it purposefully. When I hurt myself, I neither complain, nor feel the pain; I appreciate deeper that I live, and learn to walk better. I attached myself to people and things, only to realize that I do not love people and things, I have nothing in common with them. They became a burden. When you walk uphill you know that the only thing one can be passionate about is walking. The dry wind and sun burn your skin; they also burn the grapes in Somontano. The wine carries the silky taste of strength and you are not thirsty or tired any longer.

Years before you came here, you knew you walked in the land where the roads are steep and the wind is dry.

AlquézarAlquézar townAlquézar rocksMonzón castleMonzón towerMonzón castle detailMonzón entranceVineyards in SomontanoPomegranate tree in Alquezar

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The Roads of Languedoc-Roussillon

Roads in Corbières

One of the best things about Languedoc-Roussillon are the roads. Specially in February, when the country still looks austere and rough. France is yours while the mass tourism has not landed here yet. You drive across the mountains and hills covered by the patches of vineyards.Vineyards in Villerouge-Termenés

There are no green leaves yet, however, the first while flowers are sprinkled over the grass making the place alive. Those flowers tell you that the spring is about to touch the branches and to make it all grow and flourish.

Vineyards in Languedoc-Roussillon

I liked it very much just like that. Empty. You can sense the power of the mountains, the warmth of the land and the silence of the locals. This is beauty. And you respect it.

Languedoc-Roussillon

On the road to l’Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire we drove through the vineyards. It was an 11 km long road from Limoux to St.-Hilaire that serpentined through the roughed valley of southern France. No cars, no people around. What makes it different from a similar road in Napa Valley (California, USA) is the unity with the earth and the village. In France there are no fences. You drive and the vineyards are there. You can stop and walk along them and through them. You can touch the branches, have a picnic next to the vineyard and be part of it.

Languedoc-Roussillon

The valley of Corbières and its roads, vineyards, villages and castles are magical. The history is right there, the people are right there and you are right there and a part of it all. I love being a part of the place where I am at that moment. I am enchanted by the fact that there is only one bakery in each town, one school, one post office, one fruit stand, one grocery store and one or two cafes. And there are road signs telling you where is what. You buy bread like locals buy it. You eat when they eat. And to be able not to be a tourist is amazing.

Signs to Saint-Hilaire

It is powerful to be able to be local. It is the fact of accepting what is around you. It is the matter of truly enjoying it; To like the cold air of Languedoc-Roussillon region; not to mind that there is no sun for days; And to enjoy the rain. It is great to feel the softness of the damp and warm earth under your feet in February, even if your boots get completely dirty.

Castle Villerouge-Termenés

I am glad that Pays Cathare had almost all the stores and tourist attractions closed in February. The roughness of the country, the narrow roads and the cold air make you feel strong and happy. The silence of the villages makes it real. The hills are unattractive and the snow covered Pyrenees, that separate you from Spain, make France your home.

Castle in Languedoc-Roussillon

France, February 16th 2013