Home Thoughts From A Broad: l’Oceanografic and Montanejos

A trip to l’Oceanografic and then the Montanejos mountains led our Viriginian visitor Kealani Nanz into other worlds as though via a portal…

On Wednesday we went to the famous Oceanografic Aquarium. It’s the largest one in Europe and one of the largest in the world. I began with my favourite way to experience aquariums, zoos, and museums. That is, going solo and getting lost in a miniature world.

After splitting from the group, I imagined myself on an early worldwide expedition. I dreamt I was charting the planet and recording species for the first time. I like to play a little game with myself imagining what the animals would sound like if animated into a cartoon movie. The exotic birds having a tea party. Youthful sounds of dolphin banter. The brassy voices of the tortoises laying in the sun. My favourite part was the shark tank tunnels. The dark blue light and many species of creatures from the deep sea I had only seen in documentaries. Now they were swimming over my head and a couple of feet away from me. I got to spend a little bit of my time here as though on another planet.

On Friday I woke up around 8am, nervous to catch our GetYourGuide tour bus on time leaving at 9:15. We booked a hiking trip to Montanejos (the Faraway Mountains). I was looking forward to imagining myself as one of Frodo’s fellowship heading towards Mordor. As we headed up the mountains into the towns, I was stunned. I wondered how our driver was able to get the huge tour bus past the steep and tiny streets and around the short bends, barely evading the vertical cliff edges.

Like a children’s fantasy storybook

When we arrived at the dam, we came to a bridge showing the expansive cerulean body, like a portal to another world. We began our hike up the mountain towards the thermal baths. The mountains were dry and rocky, different from the mossy Shenandoah I know from home in Virginia. After about six kilometres we came to the pools between the high cliffs along the mountaintops. A pure blue river snaked around the great stone walls. These were adorned with the greenery of vines, bushes, colourful flowers, and fruit trees. It was like something that came from the pages of a children’s fantasy storybook. The water was glowing blue in the sun and chilly at 25°C.

It was tricky to submerge oneself into with the mossy rocks on the floor and I wished I had brought plastic water shoes. We swam up the winding paths with a GoPro camera. And we passed a cave with a small entrance hidden by hanging vines and rocks. Inside appeared trickling waterfalls. Then a colourful mosaic of stones along the floor. And a thin rope leading to an upper level. Beyond the cave were some smooth boulders coming out of the water. These created a perfect spot for diving off and laying in the sun. Further up the stream was a thin outlet covered by low hanging branches leading out into another empty pool. As I swam in, my moving body mixed the cold water from the bottom with the surface water warmed by the sun. So I created an invigorating mix of temperatures in the turquoise pool.

Otherworldly experience

Floating in the sparkling water, in the secluded mountains hundreds of metres above sea level, I thought about the local legend of the springs in which I swam. The filtered water in the springs were said to give long lasting youth to those who swam. Being someone fascinated my myths and legends passed through generations I floated. I wondered about the mountain peoples who swam in the waters throughout the centuries. Now in this moment I was inextricably connected to the people and the legend.

Misty Mountains on Kealani’s hike to another world

I imagined families teaching their young to swim. Groups of friends cooling off from the dry summer heat of the mountains. Young lovers sneaking off to swim together in the moonlight. The countless memories and souls touched by the mystical waters of the ancient mountains that engulfed my body. Here I am, I thought. A scared little girl thousands of miles away from her red-brick house. Her baby blue comforter. Her hardworking mother who sacrificed so much of her youth so that I could be here, experiencing the dreams she had once had.

When my day came to an end and we began the journey back though the skinny mountain roads, I asked myself, “Do I believe in magic?”

I felt that day there was magic. Magic is was something that we create on our own in times we make a connection with something larger than our self. When we connect with another person, the intricate natural world around us, a story, or a work of art, we become tied with the world.

It feels alive and moving all around us as if it were its own life force that we created by participating.

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