Thinking about France…er, or maybe Spain

I find myself more interested watching the turn of events with Macron’s new term in France than I am in watching the surreal news surrounding Trump.  I should know more about what’s going in my country but I have to look away.  I think I am still coming to terms with the fact that so many voted for the Don.  Honestly, I think a lot of people just threw up their hands and thought, “how bad could it be?”  Bad, my friends, pretty bad.  What is happening in Washington?

So I look to France for a young leader that to me symbolizes hope and change for the better.  I cross my fingers that it’s for the better.  I’m eager to see what happens with the labor reforms he has proposed and the new candidates running for office throughout the country as a part of the en Marche movement.  This interest spurred from the desire to visit France and while I ultimately decided that I should postpone the visit to Paris and Nice, I still am following the news about their government to see how it unfolds and how the French people react.  It’s an interesting time in French history.

An in-depth visit to Paris has turned into an itinerary of Spain By Train.  I tend to decide on trips at the last moment, either finding good rates for hotels or air or just needing a break from the office.  This time I said I’m taking MORE than a long weekend so when I allowed that for myself the decision was where would I go?  With France crossed off, I turned to Spain.  I oddly had picked up a couple of books by Spanish authors recently.  One of the books took place in Zaragoza and I remembered that I had saved an article on the city which I read again.  Many probably haven’t heard of this place and that’s what I liked about it too.  In a time where I feared possible terrorist attacks, maybe it would be good to see smaller cities which I hope will be an unlikely target.  Not to mention that hotels would cost a great deal less!

With a few months to prepare, I picked up some books to get me in the right frame of mind.  The first was Iberia by James Michener, a popular author that I had never read.  At the end of the section on Madrid, Michener relays some thoughts of a local Madridleῆo.  “We will never go back to the United States pattern of a two-party system.  It works for you.  It doesn’t work for us.  Through some miracle you are able to divide your country into two parts from September to November, then unite it the morning after election.  Believe me, this is a bigger miracle than you imagine…. I think that if you were to ask hundred average Spainards, a good eighty would say, “Let’s have no more party fighting.””

This book was published in 1968 and I think the bubble has finally burst.  That statement is so perfect for the state of affairs as it lies.  There’s a deep divide in the U.S. now between right and left.  It was a miracle that our system worked as long as it did, but it would be to our benefit to review the current process.

It’s odd to be learning about another country as well as getting insight on my own, but that’s the heart of travel.  It enriches and expands your views in ways you would never expect, and sometimes making you look back at the very topic you were hoping to ignore.

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