Introduction: This story is about being a single middle-aged woman and finding your spirit through travel and yoga spiced with the kisses of a younger man. I made this trip three years ago and wrote most of the story with the intention of finding an editor interested in all or part of it for publication but failed to finish it. If you are just signing on for the first time you can access the first story in the Spanish Holiday Series by clicking here then scrolling through the blog for the other installments. Happy reading- Mary.
This morning I get up early and go for a walk around the town to get in a little cardio vascular exercise. San Pere is a charming little town with buildings from various eras of the past couple of thousand years all mixed in together. I walk across a bridge on a road towards the hospital which winds through fields of grape vines bearing the fruit that will one day be the delicious cava that I have come to adore. The sun is shining and warming up the landscape. I turn back and venture towards Kirana’s house via a jogging path of sorts dodging dog poop (no requirements of the dog owners to clean it up) and taking in the dusty terrain. This part of Spain is dry. Hot in the day and cool at night- good for grapes I guess. I get a bit lost but without too much trouble find my way back to the little stucco house and prepare for the yoga intensive day.
I have an hour and a half yoga class with Kirana in the morning again mostly in Spanish with some translation for me. We are inside on a beautiful day with the sliding doors opened. Kirana corrects my triangle pose and I laugh because Nora, who was trained with Kirana at Yogaville, did the same thing at home before she told me to practice the pose against the studio wall to achieve the most beneficial body posture. I make a little knowing chuckle as Kirana performs the correction.
After the class, I have a chance to check emails and make some phone calls while Kirana picks up Noah. The plan is to drop Noah off for the rest of the day and night with his Dad, check me into the Hotel Estela in Sitges then have an interview over lunch for the story I am writing about her. During her absence I chat with Marianne about a time to meet before I go back stateside. I ask Marianne to join us for lunch because there will not be another time during my stay to talk further with her about the PhD program or the Creative Writing program possibilities. When I mention this to Kirana in the car on the way to Sitges she gets very upset. She points out that adding Marianne will skew the balance of the conversation and we will not really have time to talk deeply about her philosophy and the center. She is right and I sputter out an apology and explanation. Then coolly remind her that all things are happening the way they should and an answer to the situation of not getting the interview now will come- we just have to trust it. “Chill out yoga guru,” I tell her,” the Universe is running perfectly and there will be a better time.” She calms but does not appear to be totally placated. It was inconsiderate of me to invite Marianne even though I did try to call Kirana to ask her permission for Marianne to join us but she did not answer her phone. I then decided to do what would be best for me, having no other guidance on the matter at the time. I of all people know how frustrating it is to make time for things as a single parent and then things don’t work out as I planned them. But now my psyche was evolving to let me take things a step further and look for the benefit is how circumstances turn out. Yesterday I ordered a meal I did not really want but the Universe created an opportunity for me to have the dish I truly desired easily and without a row or a fuss. I trusted the Universe to do the same today and provide a window of time for Kirana and I to talk privately. I knew it would happen if I: A) had faith that it would and B) let it go.
THE HOTEL ESTELA
This place has 1980’s class. Situated at the harbor at Sitges it overlooks a small but nice beach much less crowded than the beach at the other side of the church. The turquase Mediterranean lapping the cresent beach. The hotel is a nice design and packed with art to sell. In the lobby is a giant painting of Linda Evans’ face aka her “Dynasty” years. Her visage divided in half vertically with a fantastical version on the left side and a realistic depiction on the right. It is fairly tacky in its datedness. The front desk guy is polite and friendly but neglects to notice I have booked a suite. He is very nice aabout it and puts me on the top floor (the 4th) in a n artsy suite style toom with a beautiful view of the small beach and the sea. The furnature is 90’s European chic but at the same time a bit nouveaux riche sleeze.
I leave my bags and Kirana, after depositing Noah with his dad, picks me up and we head to the village to park and meet Marianne in front of the church. We chat and walk through the charming winding skinny streets of Sitges to a charming place called Café Alfresco. Fabio the personable, gay waiter is attentive and knowledgable. We giggle like school girls and have fun perusing the menu. Lunch is on me as we are preparing to talk business: writing and teaching opportunities in Spain. I order from the menu de dias; watermelon soup, a salad with fresh herbs and melon for dessert- a perfect Mediterranean lunch. The soup is cool and refreshing with a little kick to it of some peppery spice. Everything is excellent including the bite of Kirana’s coconut cake she shares for dessert. We have a wonderful girls lunch which seemed much needed by both Marianne and Kirana. It was delightful.
Following our estrogen fest luncheon, Kirana and I head back to San Pere de Ribes to prepare for another yoga class. We talk on the way back about material wants and needs. She is already like a close friend and it feels great to talk about things I contemplate often but do not often have someone to discuss with.
We decide to have the class outside on the patio of the courtyard. It is a lovely warm day, the sky is bright blue with a scattered white cloud or two and the colors are vibrant from the purple, orange and golden flowers that festoon the courtyard. One other student joins us and it is a wonderful practice. Bees are buzzing around the golden blossoms of the tree that shades the patio generating a natural “Om” soundtrack for us. At one point during warrior poses, a whisper of a breeze causes a little shower of soft golden petals, decorating our heads with golden confetti. The session was magical. I feel great. My body has lengthened out again and I look great. Inner peace is starting to find its way into my heart when I am not thinking about Ricardo and his kisses. He should be arriving soon and it is difficult to concentrate fully on my practice knowing I will be near him soon and not knowing what to expect from the evening.
As predicted, the Universe offered the perfect opportunity to interview Kirana in the perfect place, her studio. Between the class and the time to meet the evenings performers, we have a quiet time alone to talk. I point out to her that this is a much better time (right after a yoga session when our minds are peaceful and clear) and place (the studio with its good guru karma and inspirational aura) to conduct this talk. She agrees and is at peace with it.
Kirana is originally from my home town, Richmond, Virginia, U.S. of A. We are only a year apart but grew up in different worlds. While I spent my childhood in Bon Air, on the Southside of Richmond near the River and in the West End, Kirana, who was then Karen Stovers, grew up in Northside. I attended an exclusive private school while Kirana enjoyed a Montessori education ending up in the coolest High School in Richmond, Open High, an alternative school for smart kids. It was at Open High that she began to practice yoga and was encouraged by her teacher to attend a talk by Swami Satchidananda at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in 1982. Swami Satchidandanda is the man who opened the famed Woodstock concert in 1969 and in collaboration with artist Peter Max, opened 40 or so yoga centers across the US thus jump-starting the yoga movement in this country. Kirana continued to practice yoga through college and beyond. In 1992 she returned to Richmond to get on with her “real life” and found herself at a crossroads; graduate school or get certified to teach yoga? The Universe provided an easy answer. A local group, interested in expanding yoga opportunities in Richmond, was offering free yoga teacher training in exchange for two months of teaching at a selected site. Kirana took the offer then traveled to Spain to become a Body Logic practitioner with Yamuna Zake (www.YamunaBodyrollin.com). The following year she went to Yogaville, an ashram in Charlottesville, Virginia founded by Swami Satchidananda, for more in depth yoga training then went back to Spain to work and continue her studies with Zake. After three years, Zake made the decision to move to New York in order to broaden her reach for her Body Logic methods and Kirana took over her practice in Barcelona as she taught yoga in San Per de Ribes, the commuter town where she lived. In 2001 the opportunity arose to open a yoga center in the little town and the Integral Yoga Center of Barcelona was born. The coolest thing about the center is the “Guru energy” that radiates through it and from it. It has an interesting kind of mystic tractor beam that attracts musicians to the cement stage in the court yard. In 2005 Krishna Das, the world famous spiritual musician, played at the center. He met Kirana while in Barcelona city where he performed one night and told her he wanted to perform at her yoga center the next night. Since then, without Kirana’s pursuit, many musicians have contacted her and asked to play there. Tina Malia, Shubendra Rao, and Luis Paniagua have all jammed in IYB’s charming courtyard. Tomorrow night, Satyar and his friends will lead a chanting session with guitar and drums.
As we finish up people begin to arrive at the studio to set up for the evenings Kirtan. Someone knocks on the glass door at the front of the outer studio. Ricardo has arrived tanned from hours spent on the beach this afternoon. His eyes are sleepy, his smile lazy and I just want to stroke his beautiful chestnut skin. I am glad to see him and he seems equally pleased. After a tour of the studio, he joins in thirty minutes of seated preparatory meditation in the back studio.
We come out of the back studio to discover the musicians are already set up. The four of us find seats and begin chanting with the eight people who have come for the Kirtan. The philosophy of Swami Satchidananda is that all spiritual teachings that are proponents of love, peace and respect are valuable to everyone on a spiritual path therefore, this Kirtan consists of chants from all over the world and from many spiritual disciplines.
Ricardo seems uncomfortable at first. Naturally he would be as he is by far the youngest person in the room at 24 years of age. He eventually relaxes enough to enjoy himself. I, on the other hand, am mystified. The singing lulls me into a mini trance like state. It is magical. The leader, a middle aged American woman, starts each song and chant off at a very soft low volume. The musicians follow her lead and build slowly to a ceshendo hold for a few stanzas then slowly return to the original softness. Like climbing a mountain. At points it seems monotonous but this is a good thing. . Often the mind must arrive at a place of agitation before it will let go of control which makes room for a spiritual awakening. I became involved enough to get a tingling sensation in m hands.
The Kirtan ends with a few moments of silence to seal the practice. The experience of an hour of this type of chanting left me relaxed and feeling cleansed.
Once the studio is returned to its normal state, we walk to two blocks to Kirana’s house where her Czeck dinner guests have already arrived. It worked out perfectly that Ricardo wanted to see Sitges because Kirana had these overnight visitors this night. Being the wonderful hostess that she is, Kirana gives us a ride to the Estrala leaving her guests at home for a few minutes. Ricardo loves the room. “How many stars does this hotel rate?” he askes. I have no idea but I guess between three and four out of the Michelen 5. We change our clothes and begin the walk over to the inauguration celebration for the piece of Passeo de Mare on the south end of the beach that Marianne had suggested for evening entertainment.
The air at dusk is warm. A soft sea breeze caresses our walking frames. The moon is a polished silver crescent hanging lazily in the summer sky. I long for another one of those body melting Ricardo kisses but I promised myself not to touch him unless he made the first move. I am sixteen years old with no idea what this man is thinking or expecting from the evening. He had been so kurt the last time I saw him and all of those middle aged insecurities are nagging at the back of my head: “Was he disgusted by my stretch marks? Did he regret adding a physical dimension to our friendship? Is he confused? Does he fell preyed upon? Does he feel bold and empowered? Does he like me at all? Would he rather be somewhere else? It didn’t really seem like he was so eager to be with me today as he was in Sitges all day and didn’t bother to tell me. etc.” I decide that if he makes the first move then at least I am not such a predator. I tell him that I won’t put my hands on him until invited otherwise in an effort to relieve any pressure from the evening I imagine he may have. Ricardo laughs and finds this an amusing game. He decides rather than give in to my insecurities by holding my hand or by kissing me (what I am really hoping for) he will playfully torture me by not making any moves though the night is already so thick with Mediterranean romance it is unavoidable.