Dec 11, 2020

The Spanish people were generous and hospitable with a liberality that astonished someone raised with a Yankee sensibility like I was, with an emphasis on self-reliance and habits like thrift and prudence. When a Spaniard picked up a few of us American hitchhikers, he would treat us all to a meal at a café in the next town we stopped at, whatever his financial circumstances. Because the Spanish sensibility was, as I perceived it, steeped in a sense of community, people weren’t constrained in the way many Americans tend to be; they didn’t worry about the future the way we do in our culture, trusting in the shared ethos that we are all our brothers’ keepers.

By the end of the year, my love of Spain and sense of belonging, like a root system, had grown so broad and deep, I began to consider the possibility of making a life there as an ex-patriot after I graduated from college. I felt for the first time that I understood the wish of the farmer who wanted to be buried under the old oak he’d climbed as a child—because felt I wanted to be buried in Spain.