If you take the road from Atzeneta towards Albocasser and then up into the Teruel, you would be forgiven for thinking that you had stepped into another century. It is here, about ten minutes or so past Vilafranca, through Iglesuela del Cid, and in the town of Cantavieja that many locals go to have their cars MOT-ed. The “ITV” is cheap and if you fail the exam, re-sits are free of charge. What better excuse than this to take a day outing?
The rugged, desolate beauty pierced by solitary shepherd huts and occasional old stone hamlets is uplifting. Here the old roofs are buckled with time and hand cut ancient beams. They appear to groan under the weight of the centuries and are all the more charming for it, blending seamlessly into the vista. Apart from a disturbing plethora of gigantic windmills around Vilafranca, heralding changes afoot, for the moment at least the landscape is bereft of the modern age.
While meandering along an empty mountain road and looking up at Ares del Maestrat, chiseled and extended from the stone it clings to, I had one of those moments when I thought I cannot believe that there are wars all over the world. Europe and its financial mess seemed a figment of my imagination; were the Spanish banks really sinking? Was the path ahead that troubled? The panorama was so still, so empty, so untouched. I could almost hear my thoughts echo in the vastness.
It is to Spain, but more symbolically here in the Teruel where there are few distractions that I have come to get away from the present day as I know it and discover a simpler life. But truthfully my life has not simplified for never has it had so many layers. I feel that I am living in several worlds at the same time, the one I have sort of left behind, the one I am embracing, and that one I am trying to create. From this process even if I do not discover a completely new way of life, I feel I have come to know myself. Yes, this sounds a tad melodramatic, but then no more so than the landscape around me.