After finally making it out of the Canary Islands, we arrived in Barcelona at the end of a very long travel day.
We were worn out and stressed out, to the point that I composed a poem in my head as a way to relieve some of the pressure of the moment.
We picked up our rental car and hit the highway for Costa Brava, where we were spending the night in Blanes, Spain.
The drive was mostly silent. It was one of those days when you simply don’t have anything left to give, and you’re questioning the point of it all.
Then we met Maria.
Our Airbnb host, Maria, met us at the apartment and had such a marvelous spirit that she seemed to be surrounded by light.
“Welcome! You are so welcome!” she exclaimed in Spanish with a beaming smile on her face. “I hope you are comfortable here.”
I switched languages in my foggy brain and did my best to keep up with her.
The apartment belonged to her son, who is living in Japan with his family, and it checked every box on our “best of Airbnb” list. Maria had even put fresh peaches and cherries in the refrigerator for us in case we needed a late-night snack.
As if that wasn’t enough, she had a gift for us. She handed Ben a sweetly wrapped present and said somewhat shyly that she hoped we liked it.
It was a small painting of the Costa Brava waves.
She’d painted it herself, she explained. “I’m an amateur artist.”
Ben put the painting on the table and gave her a hug.
I explained to Maria that Ben was also an artist, and he showed her photos of some of his work on his phone. They connected instantly, smiling and nodding and communicating without words. She was so charming and engaging that all of us were a bit sad when she politely excused herself a few minutes later, saying she knew we must be tired from our travels.
Despite the language barriers, Maria had turned our day around with the power of her personality. And she’d reminded us exactly why we were going through all of this effort to see the world.
Some people become the place for you.
To us, Maria is the bright, sunshiny Costa Brava of Spain.