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  • Writer's pictureRodrigo Baena

Following my ancestors and finding magic


Me celebrating when I saw the road sign for the city of Baena

We return to places to rekindle our experiences, to reunite with old friends, to share laughter with relatives who still call that place home.


Perhaps we return to relaunch our lives, to revisit the birthplace, and to rediscover that familiar sense of belonging.


I found myself again in the City of Baena, nestled in the heart of Spain. Not because I once resided there, but because my ancestors did. My middle name, derived from my grandfather's last name, is Baena. Recently, I uncovered that there exists a city sharing the same name, the very place from which his family originated.


It dawned on me not long ago that my Brazilian family possesses a more significant Spanish influence than I thought. We share an affinity for warm embraces, playful banter, and spirited conversations. Initially attributing these traits to our Italian heritage, my visits to both Italy and Spain revealed a stronger connection to the Spanish way of life. Celebrations, gatherings, and a zest for life characterize our shared cultural identity.


Now, as I step into the City of Baena for the first time, I see reflections of myself in everyone. Each elderly gentleman bears a resemblance to my Uncle "Tio Mané," and every smiling old lady mirrors the warmth of my family's aunties. Every conversation reminds me of the lively exchanges I left behind in Brazil.


finding the baena castle


In Baena, I experienced a profound realization of our shared humanity. The faces and lifestyles around me seemed like different versions of myself, and I, in turn, just a version of them. It was a magical moment of interconnectedness.


Have you ever felt inexplicably at home? While my ancestors hailed from this part of the planet, their departure occurred over a century ago. Yet, I felt a profound connection, as if I were one of them, despite never having left the city to live in Brazil. By following my ancestors paths I ended up finding magic.


The prospect of collectively returning home is intriguing. It might deter us from repeating past mistakes. We would likely develop a deeper respect for our elders, recognizing them as living embodiments of our shared history. Reflection would become a habit, as our past experiences would serve as constant reminders of life's lessons. Inner peace might prevail, as the relativity of time, as evidenced by our pasts, becomes apparent.


Perhaps it is indeed time to get back.

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