Share A Smile With A Stranger

Exploring Southern Spain for the winter my husband and I came across the charming little town of Finestrat. As always when we travel we ask ourselves, “could we live here” and this time the answer was an astounding YES! This region in Spain is surrounded by mountains on one side and the Mediterranean on the other. Everything we love to do all wrapped up into one.

Neither my husband or I speak a lick of Spanish, although my husband is much better at faking it than I am. After spending the past three years in Poland, I am getting everything confused. Not being particularly gifted at picking up a new language, I learned the words I needed to know in order to shop, get around and order a meal in Poland but not really much else. Hi, bye, kiss me and I love you gets you a long way in a foreign country.

Now, here comes Spain, and I have no idea what is going on. The people speak so fast that I can’t grasp anything but I have found that just like in other countries we have traveled to that a smile always works. Ok, I did learn how to say “hola” which is hello and “gracias” which is thank you. Often times the native speakers are thrilled to have you even try. So…I’m doing my best.

The charming town of Finestrat captivated us immediately. It’s a little bit Sedona, Arizona, with Puig Campana visible from everywhere with the pink rock and pine trees. Puig Campana offers fabulous hiking and rock climbing for all levels and views that will take your breath away. And bonus, Puig Campana is a short six miles from the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean, which offers wide, white sandy beaches with palm trees and bougainvilleas blowing in the wind, it’s like a dream that you don’t want to wake up from.

As we glanced around, we noticed a church steeple in the distance and decide to meander through the streets to find it. It’s always a good idea to say a bit of thanks as often as possible, so we traverse the windy streets of the old town and begin our journey.

The streets of the old town of Finestrat, are narrow and certainly only able to fit one car at a time. I decided that my driving skills are not yet ready for such steep terrain and cement block buildings on either side but I am in awe of those that do such a daring feat.

After a bit, we find the cathedral of this lovely town. The inside is a buzz with people setting up displays of mangers for the Christmas celebration. We stop to say thanks for all of our blessings and off we go. Not knowing what we will find next, we turn left and right just following any path or road. It’s all so beautiful and quaint that we just keep walking.

As we round a corner, we notice an elderly gentleman leaving his home and locking the door. We smile and say “hola,” and he motions to us to follow him. We happen to be walking in the opposite direction but he points his cane in the direction he wishes to go so we decide to follow. At first I thought maybe he just needed help walking, so that’s ok, I can do that.

As we walk, he asked us where we were from. My husband said Poland and I say California. He smiles and then remarks about the fires of California and the heat, using hand gestures and words that we can decipher. He leads us through the streets to this beautiful vista overviewing the Mediterrean. Breath taking is all I have to say. He then motions us to follow him further.

The streets are steep and our steps are small and slow. We then come upon a botanical garden that is on the very top of this vista. He points to a sign that is in Spanish and English which tells about the Arabs who first lived in this region. Spain has a fascinating history. We turn around and there is a lovely little chapel. We walk over and my husband tries to open the door but it is locked. So we look inside the small window and are overcome with gratitude. We turn to our guide to say “thank you” and he pulls a set of keys from his pocket and opens the door. I begin to cry.

We walk inside and he turns on the lights. We bow and say a prayer for this amazing gift. He just stands and smiles. He is the curator of the historic buildings in this town and was so happy to share them with someone. Blessings everywhere. After a few moments of silence we leave the chapel and he locks the door behind us as he leads us down another path.

Slowly we walk through the windy streets and he points out the home of an American as well as an Australian couple. This certainly is the man to know. Although our sentences are short and somewhat broken, we are able to communicate with a smile.

We round a corner and we are back at his home. We say our good-byes with hand shakes and kisses (always three kisses in Spain), and make our way back to our car filled with gratitude and joy. Finestrat will always have a special place in our hearts.

The one thing, among many, that I have learned over the past three years of living and traveling the globe is that we all have the same need to connect with others. People love to share the place they live and their story. So if you have ever feared not understanding or being able to speak a foreign language, never let that be the fear that holds you back from experiencing what those in foreign lands are just waiting to share.

Be the light in someone’s day, share a smile, and reap the rewards.

With love and light,

Merry Lynch



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