I am an experience seeker and travel is my therapy. Each journey outside of my comfort zone has shifted my perspective. Each journey leads to either an emotional healing, a conscious awakening or a compassionate awareness. Experience as the teacher leaves a deeper impression than any textbook or movie screen can provide. I have grown accustomed to seeking experiences meant to inspire and change how I look at life.
Traveling to Madrid Spain was no different. Madrid provides a thought-provoking legacy that delicately blends history with modern life. Expeditions to distant lands make room for an authentic cultural experience. Glimpses into royalty, Moorish remnants and bullfighting blend well with modern conveniences. A visit to the Royal Palace is sure to leave you awe struck by the lavish chambers and hallways. The royal dining table fit for hundreds of people reminded me the dinner scene in ‘Coming to America’ as I imagined myself as one of its guests. My imaginary seat at the table filled me a childlike wonder and excitement.
On the edges of the glamorous part of the Royal Palace lives a darker history known as Campo del Moro (Moorish Gardens). Moors settled in Spain in the 8th century, rapidly gained control of the entire peninsula and ruled for 800 years. The Moors established a fortress in the area now occupied by the Royal Palace. There are very few mentions that the conquers originated from Northern Africa. I stood proudly on the edges of the fortress knowing that descendants of Africa had left their influence on Spain’s architectural, agricultural and educational landscape. Although no mention of African race could be found in the garden, I knew I was standing on sacred grounds and my ancestors were once rulers. One fist pump to the ancestors for bringing this legacy into my awareness.
Last but not least bullfighting often synonymous with Spain was the highlight of my adventures. Bullfighting is known as both an art form and cultural staple. Corrida de Toros literally translates to ‘running of the bulls’. Bullfighting originated in Spain but is still practiced in Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Portugal, and Peru. Even if heavily researched nothing can prepare you for the experience. I sat in the stands in anticipation, surrounded by patches of children and the elderly. The sheer sight of the magnificent size and strength of the bull as it commands your attention while marching to the center of the ring. Matadors work skillfully and tirelessly for the bull’s attention in an effort to agitate it. The beating of the drums and sound of the trumpet announce the lead matador’s appearance with his red cape. He skillfully gains the audience’s respect as he leaps out of the bull’s path only to eventually introduce the bull to its final fate. I was not mentally prepared to watch the demise of the bull. Rather than make an unfair cultural judgment, I felt compelled to share the spiritual implications. Bulls were considered a mythological god. Bullfighting became a religious rite of passage where a god (the bull) is adorned and sacrificed for human salvation.
Traveling can be a life-changing event. Souvenirs eventually get packed away but the memories always live on with you.