Ivana flew home for a spell, so I spent four days with my good man Tony in Barcelona—eating tapas at outdoor cafés, taking long walks to admire the ornate architectural works of Gaudí and Montaner, and spending one very late night shouting drunkenly into microphones—and then headed south to the island of Mallorca rather than west to run in Pamplona, as I thought I might back when my year started.
From four out of seven sources, I heard that those wishing to present themselves as heroic have greatly overhyped the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. You knock back a shot or two of tequila, you sprint for two minutes, you go drink more tequila. The bulls aren’t after you—they’re trying to get around you just as much as you are trying to avoid them—and accounts of injuries are limited to some drunkard who got cocky, desired to smack the ass of the beast, and proceeded to stumble along the wrong stretch of cobblestone. Besides, after fighting three bulls in Nicaragua, it didn’t make much sense for me to start running away from them now.
Instead I sat for thirteen days and nights on my fourth-floor balcony overlooking the Mediterranean and listening to the sounds of the sea, watching sailboats cruise and yachts boast their supremacy. I went to Bukaro and the maître d’ asked, “Sólo uno?” and with a content smile, I responded, “Sí, señor.” I packed salami, Brie, pimento-stuffed olives, and crackers, and wandered down to the beach. I crossed the street to Café Cyrano to drink sangria by the liter and munch on the best Margherita pizza I’ve ever tasted. Birds twittered by day, and live jazz hummed by night. Barefoot, shirtless, my hat turned backwards, I smoked hand-rolled cigars and sipped eighteen-year-old single-malt scotch. While watching the sun set into an explosion of scarlet and purple over the ocean.
I reflected on the first thirty years of my life and pondered the next thirty. I bought ice cream cones. I peered up at the night sky. I breathed deep. I drank in the luminance. And I giggled.
But mostly, I read. The Alchemist. Bull City. A chunk of Roald Dahl’s collection. A book on the D-Day invasion. The Green Mile (again). I stumbled through the first eight lines of The Canterbury Tales before switching to Bill Bryson. I filled the gaps with a little Hemingway so I could bring him up in conversation in my e-mails home. I started Lonesome Dove and intend to finish it sometime early this year.
I ate and drank, bronzed my skin som’n sexy, and had my eyes in a book just about the whole time.
And life was good.