A wonderful week of nourishment at Cortijo Romero in Spain.

On Easter Saturday (2022) I arrived at the gates of Cortijo Romero in Southern Spain and was greeted by Lelly, the host for the week.  "How was your journey?" she asked kindly.  My answer to this was, "fine, everything had run surprisingly smoothly".  My EasyJet flight wasn't cancelled; there were no long queues at security as shown in the media;  I managed to breath comfortably through my FFP2 face mask for the entire journey (phew) and my digital NHS Covid Pass was accepted.  Having not left England for well over two years, there was definitely more effort needed to remember how to navigate travel again.  An element of uncertainty lingered in the background while making these plans to visit Cortijo Romero, but I accepted this as part of the "new normal" that we are supposedly adjusting to.  And, miraculously, each step of the plan fell into place until I was finally here, in one of the most peaceful and healing places that I know.


As I walked around Cortijo Romero, it felt so deeply familiar and unchanged.  I wanted to pause and take in every scent and shape of the colourful spring flowers that were blooming.  I noticed every tree that I remembered, still growing strong, from the tall palm trees to the ancient olive trees in the orchard.  Ramona, the cat, was curled up as usual in a sunny warm patch on the path near the office.  As I stroked her, I hoped she would still remember me from my time as a volunteer a few years ago.  I stood up on the roof, overlooking the mountains that I have often thought of and I had a sense that all was well.  The only thing that was noticeably different were traces of the Sahara dust that hit much of Spain in mid-March during the worst sand storms that they've experienced in a hundred years.  Much has been cleaned up, but a few patches of white now look a little more terraccota in colour.

Like all of us, Cortijo Romero and its staff have been hugely impacted by the pandemic during the last two years.  It has not been an easy time but with immense dedication and support, it has survived these ups and downs.  Nearly all of the staff have returned who help carry the incredible spirit of CR on.  Everything was running normally and due to the warm weather, we could eat nearly every meal outside for the week and the two group rooms were well ventilated.  Even though I have been cautious throughout the pandemic and this was a big step to be around so many people for a week, I relaxed as the week went on.  Any covid concerns were taken seriously and communication was excellent.  Being at CR didn't just feel nourishing, it felt therapeutic for my pandemic-weary self.  I'd almost forgotten what it was like to sit and chat over a meal with people I'd not met before sharing stories, experiences, recipes and different perspectives.  Nothing on Zoom can ever replace this deep human need for connection, with people seated and eating together.


My course was titled "Yoga, the Full Experience" which was skillfully led by Jane Roberts who also teaches the early morning yoga at CR on alternate weeks.  During the morning classes, we worked through an amazing range of asanas (postures), always starting very gently then progressing.  My favourite sessions were the afternoon Yin yoga sessions, where we could relax using bolsters, cushions and blankets while listening to the leaves rustling and melodic birdsong.  Having happily done many yoga classes on Zoom, there was again no comparison to this "in-person" experience.  We created a shared energy in the beautiful group room, which has held courses for decades and radiates warmth.  For the first time in over two years, I actually felt like my energy was being topped up rather than depleted.

Alongside the yoga was a second course in singing, led by an inspiring teacher, Polina Shepherd.  Hearing snippets of their melodic harmonies made me want to sing and to rediscover another joy that the pandemic has limited.  One evening after dinner, Polina taught us some circle dances with wordless melodies from the Hassidic tradition.  As we sang and danced in the group room, the relentlessly blustery winds of the day suddenly ceased.  Had the power of our voices halted the wind I wondered?  Afterwards, some of us stood up on the roof watching the sunset.  Spontaneously, Polina led a short Russian folk song that we sang out across the mountains and heard the sound echo back.  It was one of the magical moments of the week.


Throughout the week, I found myself pausing to just appreciate being back at CR, to be around people comfortably and to feel supported in so many ways. Starting the day off with tai-chi on the roof top was a delight, generating feelings of peace as the morning sun crept up over the mountains.  Another source of nourishment was the incredible food, still as varied as it has always been and prepared with such care and creativity by the same cooks, Clare, Heather and Eda.  Having eaten nearly every meal at home in the last two years, it was truly a blessing to have such healthy food prepared by someone else! 

Before I arrived, I had wondered if any moments of awe could still be experienced at Cortijo Romero?  Would it feel like its soul was still present?  What I know for sure is that yes, the heart and soul of CR is very much alive and ready to nurture all who stay.  One of the staff said that she has prayed for the last two years for the spirit of Cortijo Romero to continue.  Many of us have shared the same vision and I hope that it continues to flourish from here on.  While life continues to present challenges, CR offers the perfect antidote to the background stress that many of us are living with.  Whether you just want to rest, slow down, sing, create, eat well or connect to others in a place that feels very safe, it is all there and possible.  The only difficult part of the whole week was leaving.  If you can get there, do.  It is worth the extra effort!  I left feeling recharged, inspired, rested and more positive about the ability of humans to connect, care and heal.


 

For more information on courses and booking, contact Cortijo Romero (office in UK).

 They are running a wide range of courses from March 2022 to November 2022

https://www.cortijo-romero.co.uk

Photos taken at Cortijo Romero in April 2022 by Sue Edge

Comments

  1. Beautiful description of Cortijo Romero in all it's glory! Springtime must be particularly pretty up there. Every good wish for their continued success! W

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, glad I captured the beauty of CR in the spring!

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  2. It makes me want to visit again, I hope I'll get there in the autumn and I wish for CR success to continue too.

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  3. I really enjoyed your article and I hope it will encourage others to take the plunge and travel to such a wonderful place again.

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  4. Enjoyed this Sue. Your descriptions of CR are so evocative and familiar. I'm longing to get back in early November for our final Trees of Life Celebration week.

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    1. Thanks John for reading and I hope you get out in November for the Trees of Life, that will be a popular week!

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  5. Lovely article I hope to get back to CR this summer I have missed it do much 😘

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    1. Thanks Julie for reading and I hope you can visit CR in the summer, I miss it already being home but am very happy to have been there and experienced it all thriving!

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  6. Can't agree more Sue! Despite having been a very frequent visitor in the last 12 months, I still cannot get enough of CR! Hoping to go back in July. Long live CR!!!! XXX Beata

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    1. Hi Beata, Thank you for your comment and your information that you shared via CR about the practicalities of getting to CR last year really helped me think it was possible to do. So glad you have been out in the last 12 months and enjoy your next trip. xxx

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  7. I’m due at CR at the end of May … I’m so looking forward to it … I echo everything you find so special when you are there. I yearn to recover that peace that descends once through those gates. Thank you for your blog xx

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    1. Thank you reading and I hope you have a wonderful time at the end of May. It is such a healing sanctuary especially after the last two years! xx

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  8. your description of returning to CR really captures the healing spirit that pervades this wonderful place. CR does not change very much and that is one of its many gifts. You returned after the pandemic and the cat Ramona is still basking in the sun ! Such a relief for a disturbed mind flying in from afar, I went to CR for the first time in 1993 and have been 12 times. I now live 1 km.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your comment and I'm glad the healing spirit of CR is captured. How amazing to have been a number of times and to now live in the area, how inspiring! x

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