In my everyday life there is nobody I can talk to who knows more (or even close) about Lorca, contemporary Spanish poetry, or anything else I am supposed to know about, to be a big expert on. When I am in Spain, though, I get to talk to people like José Antonio Llera, Andrés Soria, Carlos Piera, Julián Jiménez Heffernan, Margarita García Candeira, José Manuel Cuesta Abad, Ada Salas, and Jordi Doce. I get to do this in Spanish, too. Of course, I can talk Spanish with my colleagues and students too, but it is not quite the same.
I also got to talk a bit with Attridge and others, too, in Córdoba.
So Spain is my whetstone. Maybe one of my whetstones, because the blog is too; other conferences I might go to. My Thursday tertulia can act like that as well, though the conversation tends to be more social than intellectual there.
Without this one has "one thought less, each year," so to speak. The scholarly base is still there, always, but the sharpening of the mind is something else.