From dust and gold to green, dust and gold, that was the transformation of the Spanish landscape between Madrid (central Spain) and Granada (southern Spain), or, as they say, from Castilla to Andalusia. Accompanying the change in colors was the change in terrain, from flat to mountainous and the sudden appearance of olive plantations the closer we got to the Mediterranean.
Ever since we sped by modern wind farms while riding the high-speed train between Barcelona and Madrid, I had been thinking of Don Quixote, the delusional old gentleman of the novel by Miguel Cervantes, who imagined he had rescued a “maiden in distress,” rode a bony nag and fought fierce battles against windmills.
Seeing the contemporary windmills made me want to visit La Mancha, Don Quixote’s home, though I had no idea where in Spain to find it. Happily, we learned that La Mancha, antiquated windmills and all, was on our bus’s route south and we had a chance to see what this classic literary figure pitted himself against in battle.
Two days later, we passed by another wind farm, this time at a slower speed. These electricity -producing wind machines were every bit as beautiful as their centuries old, grain-grinding counterparts. The movement of their blades was balletic, and when two windmills near each other were in sync, it was as if we were witnessing a pas de deux. Don Quixote’s memory lives on in a newer, gentler form.