I passed through tiny villages, where time had stood still for decades.
Where 'new residents' are a thing of the past.
Where the internet is still an incomprehensible future proposition.
Where old men sit in the shade on roadside benches, just observing the world. Sedentary flaneurs they are. Nowhere to be, nothing to do.
Just passing the time.
Where the local twenty-somethings rear their heads when they see an unknown goofy 6"3 guy saunter through their streets, anxious about any new threats to their local alpha male status.
'Hey man, I'm just trying to find the grocery store.'
Where rat tails still are a thing.
Where siestas turn villages into ghost towns during the heat of the afternoon sun.
Where the local butcher is genuinely friendly and helpful regardless of your botched attempts at Spanish, patiently co-engaging in a simultaneous monologue of different languages, until we've sort of gathered what I came in for.
Manchego cheese wasn't on the list, but I'm not complaining.
I drove through the heart of agricultural Spain.
I saw the land turn from green to grey, from grey to yellow to white to orange and back to green again, only to make way for hyena-like mountains, rocks, and pine.
Fifty shades of organics.
I saw old factories in the middle of nowhere, some still operational, others having been left to decay decennia ago.
Where forlorn houses have been 'se vende' for decades, and the elements and father time have rendered the walls to ruins, but the for sale signs are still up nonetheless.
I chased the full moon in the dark, driving through a long valley of steep and winding roads.
I passed through mountain passes unfit for big vans, where corkscrew turns are so steep my inside rear wheel was lifted off the ground.
With hand-carved tunnels so narrow that any incoming traffic would be a problem.
And I saw bulls, real Spanish bulls, after having seen 200 road signs warning me for them.
In short, I saw the other side of Spain. The one rarely advertised, rarely talked about, but no less interesting.