Granada swept me off my feet to the sounds emitted by dozens of musicians posted throughout the streets of the Albayzín and surrounding lados de esta hermosa ciudad del sur de España. For once I’m going against the practical blogger voice urging me to finish telling all my ICELAND stories and secrets, or for that matter also those ISRAEL moments too, etc etc. . . I’m throwing logic out the metaphorical window, but with good reason. I’M IN LOVE! I’m in love with the present moment’s gifts. It’s been an incredible blessing reliving two of my most adventurous solo trips from this year for all of you (and I promise I’ll share the rest that lives in me from Iceland and Israel), but sometimes a recent tangible journey requests to FLY ONTO THE SCREEN OF THIS QU-EEN’S BLOG with urgency; with love. And who am I to argue with my more creative inner voice? I’d be a fool to.
GRANADA ESTÁ VIVA; GRANADA VIVE EN LOS QUE SUEÑAN CON ELLA
The first I ever heard of a place called Andalucía was in Paulo Coelho’s novel The Alchemist, which I read at the ripe ‘ol age of 8. Back then Spain seemed like a far off land, like Narnia, or The Shire, somewhere only reachable in literature and in the mind’s imagination. BUT THOSE MOMENTS OF DREAMING OF FAR OFF PLACES DURING CHILDHOOD PAID OFF!! I first visited Spain in 2008 (residing for 5 months in Madrid) and I’ve since lived in Galicia and now in Baleares’ Isla de Mallorca, reaching my two year anniversary here in España, never forgetting to thank my younger self for painting vivid pictures of España based on Coelho’s descriptions. I must say, twenty years later the southern region of Spain’s most precious gem, Granada, awakened me.
Maybe it was her music, ever present from the moment of my arrival in the Albayzín, voices and instruments beating like her passionate heart.
Maybe it was her tones, the white-washed walls of the barrio/neighborhood Albayzín, the cafecito con leche shade of La Alhambra and surrounding fortification walls and the autumnal shades reflected back in Nature. Not to mention the unexpected pops of color of ripened lemons, caquis/persimmons, those absolutely inedible sour oranges, bougainvillea flowers draped like living curtains, and the towering Sierra Nevada mountains.
Why Granada? A friend and fellow California girl I met in Galicia now calls Granada home. We’ve been wanting to meet up and create some magic for months now. She’s a soul sister, a magical goddess who was willing to take me in for the long puente holiday (Teaching English in Spain does have its perks). Now was as great a time as any to travel to the south of Spain. Without set plans for my stay, we let the days and shifting energies move and motivate us. Y la Música / And the Music. Oh how the music moved me every day. Even without leaving her apartment, I could hear music from her bedroom window while cuddled up with a great book. My days were filled with the sweetest sounds of passionate artists, and my belly filled with fresh and local ingredients from the Vegan cafes and Eco stores we frequented. Together we also cooked healthy veggie soups, made fresh guacamole and salads, and smoothies and hot teas. I joked with her that it was quite the detox for me after having spent 5 days in the U.K. drinking mulled wine and eating scones and everything else in sight. Everything was easy in Granada. Our days were Easy like Sunday morning. Walks in the Albayzín (which was the heart of Muslim culture for centuries when the region was Al-Ándalus), around the exterior grounds of La Alhambra, throughout Realejo, and even in the way outskirts of the city were just what my soul needed, to flow through this city completely present.
“The simple things are also the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them / Las cosas simples son las más extraordinarias y sólo los sabios consiguen verlas.” -The Alchemist/El Alquimista
We had one incredibly free afternoon which stands out among the rest. This particular afternoon began with a walk out into Granada’s nature. Danielle led us across the entire city on foot until we reached the river, which compared to Galicia’s Río Miño seemed more like a large puddle.Over an hour into our walk, we had arrived at a dead end alongside the river. But we were headed into nature, and surely had to be where river was leading. Danielle suggested we rock climb up a huge stone wall so that we wouldn’t have to turn back. The Good news, she had actually done a rock climbing class recently. The Bad news, I hadn’t. And I was weak. And possibly a few too many scones eaten the week prior would make this feat even more difficult for me. The stone wall was at least twice our height, and intimidating, but I generally don’t say No right away to a little adventure. We gave it a go. She scaled almost all the way up, but there weren’t enough places to grip. Back down she came. I tried to see what I was made of, but had to rely on her boosting my ass up part of the climb. I couldn’t pull myself up sufficiently, and came back down. But at this point, we were both on a mission. MIND OVER MATTER, RIGHT? We tried at another part of the wall up ahead, but it was doomed from the start. Thorny vines hindered us and attached to our clothes proving a worthy adversary. However, there was one other option. Crossing the river would allow us to try the opposite wall, whose massive concrete drain jutted out just enough for us to climb up and successfully over the wall. So we found the safest part of the river to cross, getting our shoes wet (luckily the water wasn’t very deep though), and there you have it.
Part urban adventure with a touch of natural obstacles, TWO DETERMINED WOMEN continued on their adventure. . .
Just another 10 minutes along we found a field of caqui trees, fruit ripe for the picking. It was caqui season in Granada. We looked at each other and instantly knew they were too appetizing to not pick. A Gandalf-like staff helped us pull the branches lower, and I filled my pockets with ten or so caquis. Off we went. . . this adventure was taking on a life of its own. It led us high above the city and even into the hillside where people were living in caves and tents. Not the easiest sight to see nor one you see every day, it did show another way of life here in the south; a life perhaps chosen out of necessity, or maybe in rejection to the life so many others choose, full of excess. When we ended up back in the highest part of the Albayzín near La Alhambra, I knew this day would be etched in my heart. Breathing all that fresh air provided by the Sierra Nevada (mountain range), walking, climbing, problem-solving, and observing this place with love and gratitude, and all with a soul sister by my side, there was nothing I lacked. Goddess manifested every sublime moment.
In just 6 days in Granada, the musical spirit of the city had entered my soul and shook things up. Street music, palmas flamencas acompañadas con guitarras y voces en alto overlooking La Alhambra, a live concert featuring a young Argentino in an intimate setting of an artists’ loft, a sound healing ceremony and meditation, and an unexpected all-night jam session in Danielle’s own apartment with Greek, Israeli, American and Spanish singers and musicians, I hadn’t realized how much music had been lacking from my life, and from my heart. Had I been denying myself the joy that comes from listening to music on a daily basis? Perhaps. Why? I think I forgot how music heals, how music uplifts, how music moves the energy around in me and you. Over the past month with the change of seasons and less natural sunlight, and a stack of books to read and soula work to do, I had decided on some stoic introspective daily practice that didn’t allow for many distractions or outside noise like Music. And Granada resuscitated me back to life, with its life-force: LA MÚSICA, que nos mueve, que nos inspira, que nos transforma. . . I’m not finished with you Granada, and you, Elusive Alhambra (SOLD OUT on this holiday weekend), I’m coming back for you.