Two quick trips in one |

Two quick trips in one

This trip takes me to Zaragoza, Spain. I'm a beginning choreographer, and traveling is part of my job. When I arrive in Barcelona, there are no flights to Zaragoza, but there is a steam-driven train.

I find a hotel for the night and seek out a flamenco dance club. I find one; it opens at 9 p.m. The club is dark, small and is crammed with tables jammed up against a miniscule stage. Everything screams "authenticity." Perfect.

Dancers take turns; sometimes a man, sometimes a woman, sometimes both. A guitar player accompanies and occasionally sings. The men dance with the grace of leopards, and there is a whole lot of "machismo" going. The girls match the men step for step. Time flies, but I must leave at 11:30.

Next day, I'm on the train station platform at 5 p.m.

"What time do you think we'll be leaving?" I ask the conductor.

"As soon as we have enough passengers," he answers; different country, different ways.

Recommended Stories For You

Next day I meet up with Margaret in Zaragoza. Margaret is the line captain of six young acro dancers. The girls are barely of age and they're traveling from Spain throughout the Middle East.

I ask Margaret where we can rehearse and she says the hotel has no rehearsal space.

"Where is the hotel garage?' I grumble, and we rehearse on the landing between the third and fourth levels of the garage.

As I'm about to depart, Margaret gives me a telegram. I'm to go to San Remo, Italy, to rehearse with our group there.

I board the train to Madrid at noon. I step out on the platform between cars. The air is hot, dry and filled with the fragrance of orange groves. Next, fields of golden wheat, followed by hillsides of gnarled olive trees. All this wondrous beauty is so reassuring. This is California, as it was before freeways.

San Remo rests on a bluff above the Mediterranean. Carpets of grass, vibrant flowers and palms greet the airline bus I'm on. Grandfatherly old de' Medici-style buildings with crumbling stucco flaunt antiquity. Clothes lines criss-cross high above the cobblestoned alleyways.

I meet with Mickey, our line captain, at the casino and see the show. The girls are "Vegas" quality, plus the casino executives love the show. Rehearsals would be redundant, so I give jazz classes.

I treat myself to a ride on the San Remo "Funivia." A cable is suspended by towers from San Remo to the top of Montenone. Passengers ride in cable cars. Within minutes, we're above fields of carnations, in full bloom, in all colors, and the aroma is consuming. Here comes that word again, all the beauty is so "reassuring."

From the top, far off to the right, is Monte Carlo and Monaco. Directly beneath us is San Remo and straight ahead is the vast Mediterranean. What a ride!

Just before leaving for home the dancers give me a set of ruby red Murano goblets to take to Orllyene. How "reassuringly" beautiful life can be at times.

Ron Walker lives in Smith Valley. He can be reached at