Toledo, our first stop. Not bad quality for my Canon A4 PowerShot back then

Jealousy windows, so dubbed because you can only see out of them. Others cannot see in.

Alhambra castle in Granada. You can find a larger duplicate of this fountain at Irvine Spectrum.

View of the Alhambra at night.

In the summer of 2003, I was in Spain for ten days. While the duration of my trip was short, my life changed rapidly and immensely in this short period of time. I decided to major in Spanish once I got to college because of this trip. And I decided that I was no longer a Californian nor American but rather a citizen of the world (which probably would have made Diogenes proud to hear a tenth grader say).

Two things inspired this entry:

  1. Recently watching Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces (Los abrazos rotos). I had missed discussing Spanish films in Spanish class, in Spanish.
  2. Digging through old pictures on my external drive and coming across ones I took in Spain 7 years ago. Nostalgia ensued.

If you know me well, you know what Spain means to me and how much. I’ve written profusely about it in blogs of yesteryear. If my life were a movie, Spain would be a motif worthy of critical attention (some might say the psychiatric attention, but I digress). Here is another attempt to capture its resonance in my life. This time, I chose a poem as the format.


by Lilian Bui
January 2, 2010

When I’m feeling old and settled
And my dreams begin to strain,
I put my foot back on the pedal
And thrust myself back into Spain.

In Spain, they understand me,
Los castellanos never fail
A Spanish breeze, the rarest candy,
Arouses hunger once curtailed.

It was a plaza in Toledo where
My journey did embark.
Senses fed, indulged, ensnared –
I opened up my heart.

I heard my spirit sing
Through los gitanos‘ whitewashed caves
It soared past tilted windmill wings
Where Quixote fell, upstaged.

The sangria pitcher’s brimming,
So why not pour a glass?
They say results are slimming
For the newly en”light”ened class.

Discover castles off the highway.
Stand and marvel in their shade.
Stand, too, in hallowed temples,
Where promises were made.

Moorish fountains cascade freely
Evoking visions of Paradise.
Send me off, adrift, and easy,
Humming Spanish lullabies.

Vosotros sois…” y “Vale!
Pour from the native tongue,
But los cosmopolitanos, they
Don’t care where you came from!

Aboard a train I learned
From a man bound toward Madrid
Where Mind failed with the words,
Picked up and saved, Heart did.

Speak from the heart where you should go.
You will be understood.
You will connect (and at the soul).
You will be changed for good.

Deep down I know I’ll always be
That girl inside the train
Wide eyes out the window
Absorbing Life’s terrain.

Andalusian illusions, gold and sheer,
Will tease a sighing brain.
The biggest fear as departure nears
Is to never be here,
Ever, like this,

When I’m feeling old and settled
And my dreams begin to strain,
I often think of far-off places.
I most often think of Spain.


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