Caves are cool, dark and silent. They resonate with earth energy — a sense of being grounded; vibrations as slow and rich as a Tibetan gong. I think that’s why I sleep so deeply in my cave house in southern Spain. Each morning as I reach for my phone to check the time, I remind myself that I’m not on anyone’s schedule. Then I pull my arm back and burrow deeper under the fluffy comforter for a delicious snooze. Last night I was in bed for twelve hours.
I’ve spent the last three weeks living in this cave house just up the hill from the town of Baza, Spain, about 90 minutes outside of Granada. The cave is the perfect setting for the healing I’m working through right now. It’s like a cocoon for restoration and growth — physically, emotionally and professionally.
I’ve settled on a daily routine of active recovery for my feet and hip. I make time every day for long walks on the Via Verde trail, yoga routines to stretch my lower body and strengthen my core, plus the stretches and strengthening moves my physical therapist assigned me. I eat all my meals in, opting for fresh local produce and lean meats. I’m losing weight and gaining strength. My hip and feet, while not perfectly healed, are definitely improving.
Between my cave house and the sleepy town of Baza (population 20,000) is the Via Verde trail, a paved bike trail with mountain views. I walk every day in the hot Spanish sunshine. The patches of wildflowers beside the trail buzz with summer insects, and occasionally I see herds of sheep in the pastures. I have plenty of time to think and reflect on these long walks. Thinking is the best part of walking. No headphones, no television, no books.
The truth is I will probably be alone almost every day for the next year. There’s a lot of processing that goes along with that — I won’t bore you with the details of my thoughts about it. I am learning to be a best friend and loving partner to myself on a daily basis. Some days are better than others, but the good days are more frequent now, and mostly I’m at peace with myself.
I’ve also thought about my career. I’ve rebranded myself, and I’m pursuing work that will be more fulfilling for me, or at least more lucrative.
When I first arrived here, I was bored. Even with many hours taken up by work, walking, cooking, and yoga, there was a lot of time to fill. I read books and watched movies, but I felt restless. The town’s few attractions weren’t going to fill three weeks of time. No one to talk to, no bathtub to soak in — what would I do with myself for three whole weeks?
I started taking weekend trips to Granada — big-city adventures for my diet “cheat day” (Wine! Tapas! Yum!), complete with indulgent hotel showers (hot water is lacking in my cave house) and dance shows. The bus ride is 90 minutes through mountainous scenery that is drop-dead gorgeous. The round-trip bus ride costs less than $20, a hotel room is $30-40 and a show ticket might cost $15. It’s not an expensive venture.
Granada is a vibrant, exciting place, and there’s always something going on. I love to duck into a bar, order a tinto de verano (red wine with soda), and wait to see what kind of tapa (snack) will come. It’s always a delightful surprise. On Sundays, it might be a little plate of paella. Or it might be a sandwich, or octopus, or pork. It’s nearly always meat. Spain is a very carnivorous country.
I’ve also marked time with the midweek market in Baza. The market is worthy of its own post, so I won’t detail it here. But I learned that, in addition to my daily walks and culinary adventures, a twice-weekly outing is the minimum I need to keep my soul well-fed and happy. It’s easy at home to have plans with friends at least twice a week. It’s more challenging to make dates with myself when I’m traveling solo.
I’ll end on this note: What feeds your soul? Music, dance, nature, solitude, new scenery? How often do you need it? Do you make sure your spirit gets what it needs? After all, love is a verb, and so is self-love.