Red Rock Road, Light Blue Sea: Sketches

Backpacking pilgrimage to Europe… honeymoon in Spain… Moorish architecture… artist’s retreat on Formentera.

In this innovative nonfiction novel, a midlife couple treks the wild edges of Spain and Portugal, navigating between bliss and burnout. Their destination, a rustic island cottage, proves a crucible of rebirth: of self, love, and art.

“Two dusty pilgrims, we had no more information than what our senses gave us, and with that we would have to be content. Down from the fortified hills we passed a clutch of whitewashed houses nestled in a high valley below the monastery. Beyond the village we stopped by a prehistoric dolmen, a burial site composed of giant stones and bordered by a rock wall of more recent vintage. Here a small sign informed that these stones were placed there seven thousand years before. The hoary monument stood framed on the hillside by the blackened remains of olives and pines, presenting a Gothic view of a classy bay and village further below: sepulchral fingers lacing an image of white-splashed luxury by the rippling sea.”

“Couldn’t I be satisfied with finding in myself this inner quality of experience I so desired? Why did I instead insist on holding onto the hope that I could somehow, in our as yet unfixed itinerary for the end of the trip, return to Zaragoza in the flesh? The Islamic palace had become nothing less, and little more, than a monumental symbol of my own aspirations and limitations. In respect to a spiritual understanding, whether I ever saw the literal building again didn’t matter anymore. Yet, by the same token, I could always stand to learn better how to manifest what I most desired in this life.”

“The moon wanes, the weather front moves across the changing land, roofs are repaired, and buses depart before dawn. Another night will pass in this high country with us bundled in blankets and huddled together between dreams and blank folded sleep. With limbs pressed together, stretching out the hours of cold and dark, we will continue finding our way into this new winter of our becoming: the time of the heart, the inward path.”

Comparable works include books by Shirley MacLaine (The Camino), Iris Murdoch, Robert Pirsig, Elizabeth Gilbert, Bruce Chatwin, Peter Mayle, and Tom McCarthy.

Red Rock Road goes beyond the standard travelogue, mapping a new literary landscape. As travel literature it paints a multicolored journey that is historical, cultural, architectural, romantic… part honeymoon, part backpacking itinerary, part writer’s journal, part spiritual pilgrimage.

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