Duende, as most of the very best things in life, is inexplicable. You can’t catch it in words, and you definitely can’t explain it to others. You feel it.
If you prefer to hear and feel rather than to read on, definitely open this song in YouTube: ‘Hijo de la Luna‘ by Mario Frangoulis. It might be a glimpse into the ancient heart of Andalucia – which still exists today.
For there’s Andalucia, it’s coasts and gorgeous touristy cities… and there’s inland Andalucia: a land of gypsies and farmers, cultural highlights and a stunning history, under a Moorish moon.
You can walk through modern towns with all the amenities and services of the 21st century, and at the same time feel the way of life of the 19th century.
How can we foreigners who live in inland Andalucia explain to friends in northern Europe why it’s sometimes so heartbreaking to leave Andalucia? Why if you live here for a year and slowly start to feel it rather than to just see it, it’s a bond for life?
It’s that heightened sense of emotion, expression and authenticity… the ‘duende’. Slowly, very slowly, it sneaks into our own lives and that makes that Andalucia is not just a place where you’ve been, but that you carry with you.
Hemingway felt it, Orson Welles is buried here. Carmen, the cigarette girl is from here, as well as the original Don Juan. Foreigner after foreigner, after first having felt no connection whatsoever with the ‘fandango’, suddenly says: now I get it!
The ‘route 66‘ feel of stopping at a Venta (a diner) long a windy road, the sitting at a fireplace in a bar, the wind carrying the voices of people practising the next procession, a youngster playing a ‘rumbita’ on a Spanish guitar… other people saying ‘ole‘ for loving the twists and turns of the voice… and then obviously that great big and pure love for living, breathing, singing, dancing, tasting, loving…
Ole! for inland Andalucia, that distinct, unique and stunning corner of Europe. May you too be so lucky to feel and be carried away one day by its duende!