The Farms and Wetlands of Deltebre, Spain
While on Walkabout, I prefer to use public transportation. Trains and subways are useful if you are going from one metropolitan area to another. But if I want to see mud, mallards, and the Mediterranean Sea, I need some flexibility. Google Maps has been a travel game-changer. It has made a big difference in our flexibility. I also want flexible access with a rental car, a flexible schedule, and most of all a flexible attitude.
After two weeks in two busy urban areas, I was happy to visit the agricultural countryside of Deltebre, Spain.
Europe is more than cultural landmarks. Palaces, museums, churches, historic sites, cobblestone streets, and quaint shops are only part of the picture.
Visiting "environments" is at the top of my travel list. I like the idea of "Ecosystem Travel," to visit the natural environment and see how people interact with the environment.
Visiting natural areas is one of the most authentic experiences a traveler can have. While looking for wildlife, walking along a river, or watching waves on the beach, it is easy to feel connected to a place. It is a genuine experience that speaks to everyone.
The natural environment offers travelers an unconstrained, selfless, unconditional experience. Things exist for their own reasons. Tourists are an afterthought.
December is a very quiet time of the year for this coastal resort community. We were able to enjoy the fields, mudflats, rivers, and beaches all to ourselves.
“This must be what it means to be in a Mediterranean climate.”
I have memories of Southern California and being told that we live in a Mediterranean climate. I read about what that means, and now I really know. It was winter in Spain, and it was nice to be outside. The air was warm and clear. The sun was shining with sharp shadows on the ground. The breeze felt good and smelled good, but just a bit cool. The sky was sapphire blue.
Seeking flamingos in the wild, we set out for a day exploring the rice fields and wetlands of Spain. We hit a dead end or two on our way to a wildlife viewing area. "In one hundred meters turn ... right... turn right..." and again "turn right." We had to improvise when Google wanted us to drive into a locked private gate. One road just ended, but Google said to continue.
But we were not discouraged. Our flexible attitude prevails! We found flamingos (and mallards) but they were too far away to photograph. We also found a wonderful lunch spot, windswept dunes, a trail, two wildlife viewing platforms, beautiful empty beaches, fields waiting for spring, and an amazing sunset.
The environment of Deltebre was similar, yet different from California. Familiar, yet not the same. If that bird looks like the mallards back home, maybe it is a mallard. (It was a mallard.) The rice fields were like the fields we have in the Sacramento Valley, but the shelters were different. The wetlands were like the Central Valley. Farms waiting for the spring planting. People making their lives on the land. Rivers that run into the Sea. Waves of golden grasses. Amber sunsets. We saw that they were the same, yet not the same.
My visit reinforced the value of flexibility.
California beaches are beautiful, but so are Mediterranian beaches. There are a lot of beautiful landscapes in the world. Maybe we are all more similar than we are different? If you keep driving down that road, there may be a gate, but they may also be another bird, and another route, another sunset. A flexible attitude helps discovery in travel, life, peace, our similarities, our differences.
We can learn a lot about environments, and ourselves if we are flexible.