Mindful Travel: sit and observe (Málaga, Spain)

One day I decided to plonk myself down somewhere unobtrusive and just sit a spell—every day contained hours of walking and my feet were begging for some time off. My daily morning routine had developed a concession to my American nature: a trip to Dunkin Donuts at the train station for a large iced vanilla latte and some sort of snack to carry on my trek: today was a cream filled donut that I worked to briskly consume and free myself from its sticky demand for attention. I headed to an area I was familiar with just across the river in a rather non-touristy section of town full of the goings-on of the ordinary citizens of Málaga. A wide pedestrian area between streets, it had a smattering of small benches and I chose one to perch upon as I sipped the latte. I had brought a book, but it remained ignored. Across from me was a heavy wooden door with iron clasps and latches. Having a certain affinity for doors, I snapped a picture. As I sat, I realized what a collection of people was crossing my view and set about secretly snapping pictures as each interesting character trod past my view of the door.

Here are abuelo and abuelita, the darling and cherished grandson scampering a few paces ahead of them in his somehow crisp and spotless white shirt, tidy pastel shorts, a tiny knapsack so scholastically upon his back although he was surely younger than kindergarten. How they beamed at their descendent while they strolled; no more pressing engagement apparently than enjoying the morning with the tiny gentleman. The Cyclist coasted past with his aerodynamic helmet and shiny form-fitted bodysuit. I licked the remaining donut glaze from my fingers. A trio of teenage girls chattering away as they pass the wooden door, fixated on their phone screens while flipping their hair. I understood not a word, but as such things are universal, I knew they were sharing the latest gossip. Now comes a couple, the woman in hijab, the man in ordinary clothes. They carry on a low conversation and walk briskly, perhaps an appointment requires their prompt arrival. A young boy, maybe thirteen like my son, has joined me and sits now on the adjacent bench. He does not focus on the wooden door and its passersby but instead casts his gaze anxiously about and periodically texts on his phone. Maybe he is attempting to meet up with someone—I never did find out who—after ten minutes he conceded this wait and jumped up to leave. I too have now grown restless and gather up my few belongings. Tossing the plastic cup and sticky donut wrapper into the trash can, I continue along my way to find out what else the day holds in store.

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