A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

A Sunday Afternoon in the ByWard Market (Ottawa)

There are images on the web, there are blog posts describing it, there is even a TripAdvisor review for it, yet this fountain of youth is as elusive for us as is the Loch Ness Monster.

To recap… This morning, we (ok, I) had read with flourish and a note to the effect of Take a sip and let the years fade away…  that a Fuente del Aceituno laid at the back of the church in Sacromonte. As the Mirador de San Nicolas (viewpoint) and the Albayzin Moorish quarter was on today’s visiting list for the family, I knew that the Sacromonte neighborhood was but a very short distance away. We had taken a minibus to get us to the Plaza de San Nicolas as the tiny winding roads were quite steep, but I was able to convince the family to walk down so as to enjoy the view and the many cave-like houses and establishments encased in the rocky hillside on our way to town.

Upon the crossroad to Sacromonte, I made my case for its authentic Roma community and… The Fountain of Youth! Especially after last evening’s tapas tour where Justin and I realized we were the only adults who could legally drink in the group and further being told after enjoying a glass of vermouth that only 50-year-olds drink this, a trip to a fountain of youth could sound appealing.

So up the winding road we went searching for the town’s church. It was hot, it was steep, we were tired, we were hungry, but I was persevering; I wanted to reach this fountain (of water or oil aceite ??). Regardless if water or oil flowed from it, I was on a mission. Another steep incline and another before I saw a spire, yes! we were close. But alas, this church could not be accessed from the main road. It seemed to be only available to locals through secrets passageways and private yards. And even more disturbing, we could see all around the building without so much as a watering (oiling?) hole in sight.

As I made my way down the road, somewhat defeated, with an upset family in tow, my son says to me that maybe the fountain of youth is simply a story to make you hike up those hills in order to exercise and keep the body ‘young’. Well, that could definitely be so. Also, a sip from an unknown water source is really never a good idea, but this 40-something woman is still keen in finding… the waters of youth!

On Bastille day (we are in Europe afterall :), we went to visit Cordoba and its famous Mezquita. This old Mosque-turned-Cathedral was fantastic; a truly unique place. Here is my TripAdvisor review: You enter an arch-filled mosque lit by orange-colored light bulbs in intricate rounded chandeliers surrounded by hundreds of columns; a vastness that somehow makes you feel at peace. Then you walk around and bam! you get transported to a full-fledged Catholic Cathedral embedded in the middle of the mosque with an amazingly decorated high altar and an even more amazingly decorated choir built completely of red mahogany. One moment you are surrounded by the dim calming light of Islam, the next you are transported to the bright and ornate grandeur of Catholics. It is a must see in the region. Do read up on the history and the significance of the place before visiting.

But back to the subject at hand… As we were making our way to our designated train lane to leave Cordoba – a little deflated after buying another set of return tickets as our initial (non-transferable ones) were for 8 p.m. (just too damn hot in the city to wait that long*), Justin, who is in front, almost jumps out of his body as something moving hits his sandaled foot. What is it but a tiny bird clasping its wings and walking (stunned ?!?) on the hot concrete floor of the train station settling itself beside a huge pillar. Em and I looked around and on top of the pillars to see if another bird was around (a mother, a sister, a lover, anyone), but none seemed to be around. We waited, hemmed and hawed, before deciding to rescue the poor creature, still in what we called the fetus position, lying beside the pillar. And when I say we, I mean my daughter and I, for the boys wanted nothing to do with this. So without leaving my boy much choice to protest, I grabbed his baseball cap and made my way to the bird. The little thing easily crawled into the cap and remained still throughout our voyage simply looking through the back hole. We carried it under a tree and surrounded it by foliage, water being just a few feet away.

Of course, we questioned ourselves if we were messing with nature, but I hope we were rescuers and not something more sinister. I tell myself that all living creatures prefer dirt, leaves and grass to concrete whether to thrive or die (which is why I always pick up worms on the road after it has rained to put them back on the grass even those that seem beyond hope, but I digress). Well, in any case, as the Cordoban train was leaving the platform, all I hoped was for birdy to have found what was needed to survive in this harsh world.

Buen dia!


*when I say hot, I mean 46 degrees Celsius hot, as in nothing good can happen in this weather… as in food tastes off, even water tastes off! All you want is to get back to your air-conditioned apartment and lit down.