A journey through Sierra Nevada
I arrive at Granada airport early in the morning on my first day of holiday. The plan is to travel southwards to the coast. The keys to my hired car are duly handed over to me by a bored looking lady in a hideous uniform at the arrivals hall.
As I am leaving the terminal behind, enjoying the comfort of my small but clean VW Golf, I think about how drained and stressed out I feel. My life is a perpetual running act: from one meeting to the next, across airport terminals and train stations. I run to meet deadlines, to fit it all in. And yet, I never seem to get anywhere, let alone on time.
I know it is only going to take me 40 minutes to get to my destination, as the city and its beach are nowadays conveniently connected by a modern highway. The three lane asphalt monster crosses the vast mountain range called Sierra Nevada in a straight line through tunnels and over suspended bridges. Not too long ago, you would have had to drive around the mountains on a tiny secondary road called Carretera de la Cabra – Goat´s Road. As its´ name implies, you will find no other living creature up there. The road is so windy and narrow that it would take you at least two hours to get to the sea, providing you did not fall off the cliff beforehand. Being in a hurry would therefore be strongly disadvisable.
Suddenly I have a craving for old times, a longing to slow down and remember a life without packed schedules and electronic devices telling me where to go and what to do. I take the turn where the old sign used to be, now substituted by a flashy light advertising for a McDonalds. But the old road is still here.
It has been over 30 years since I last drove on it, yet I am instantly hit with happy memories from childhood. Images of my family driving down to the beach come back, my two siblings and I cramped into the backseat of the minuscule, Renault 5. The comforts of modern travel did not exist then; there were no seat-belts for us kids and hence we were mercilessly thrown from side to side with every turn. The succession of curves was endless so, inevitably, one of us would get sick. We would then stop and be told to get out and take some fresh air.
I realise I can still recall how the air smelled back then: earthy, nutty, of olive and pine trees. As I pull to the side of the road now, too, I step out of the car and breathe in the same scents. I take in the astonishing views that lay majestically in front of me. There is no other noise than the humming of the mountains itself. I switch off my phone; there is no signal up here anyway.
I lean against my car and decide to remain like this for a while. I don´t how long for and frankly, I don´t care. Time seems to have stopped up here and I, too, am finally able to slowly breathe out.