Τρίτη, 25 Οκτωβρίου 2011

In the Shadow of Frederico

Suddenly, in the middle of the night, I woke up . The landscape around the train was full of double decker wagons, filled with new cars. I realized that we were at Linares-Baeza, home to SEAT’’s biggest production line. All those new cars where ready to get transported accross Europe and the mediteranean. We left the industrial landscape and I resumed my sleep.

I continued my uncomfortable sleep through the night, only to wake up as the Andalucian sun was begining to hit the train. I pulled back the curtains and realized that we were passing through endless olive groves. Man this was Andalucia.
My Odysey began as soon as I had left the train. I started negotiating the bus system. I took the wrong bus, stopped somewhere where I from where I could do nothing but retrace my steps up until the last turn of the bus, and got lost. Adding to my problems, was the fact that I could not really understand what tha locals where telling me (Andalucian is quite the odd dialect).
Eventually crawling through a web of missconceptions and mistakes, I eventually managed to negotiate my way to the next bus. As the minibus started to crawl the hill oposite the Alhambra, I finaly got to relax. My trip was finaly ending. I got off at the right stop, managed to follow all the instructions to the end. And there I was up for the next susrprise. I was DEFINATELY in front of the right building. But it seemed to be in a mess. Everything was out of the building and noone was answering the phone. After about half an hour of waiting, an Australian appeared at the door. He informed me that the hostel had been closed due to bugs that some guy contracted in Morroco and brought with him in the building in May.
Damn! There went my 15 euro deposit and I had to look all over again! I started my long descent into the city under the hot Andalucian sun. When I was close to the bottom of the hill, I decided it was time for a small rest. I sat down facing the Alhambra. The enormous fort was just sitting there, it’s windows gaping towards my direction. It was as if it was laughing at me. Stupid Westerner being angry and stressed over all these stupid things. I should have learned to go through this kind of problems.
That was when my father called to see how things where going. I asked him if he could find me someplace to stay via internet, because the hostel was shut. He told me to give him a few minutes but, to see if I could find something myself too, before closing the phone. I continued moving towards downtown Granada. I had not seen any hotel or hostel of any sort, when my dad called. He said he found a hostal someplace under the Cathedral, and that he could book something for me. I asked him to do it and send me the details. After a few moments an adress, a name and a phone number came up on my screen. I called as I was passing through the courtyard of the Cathedral. It took me a few calls to understand what the Andalucian at the other end of the line was telling me,
So after another wave of missunderstandings and craziness, I was dislodging my belongings at yet another room which had the bare necessities. I sat on the bed under the fan, and in a few seocnds I was sound asleep.. I woke up a few hours later. It was night and all the Alhambra would not be open until the next morning. I had some ways to kill time though. Granada is a town that depends a lot on its university (one of the best and the oldest in the Hiberian Peninsula), and that could mean a lot of things about the town’s bars and restaurants. I went downtown and drove myself crazy with the tapas and the beer. The night ended with me sitting outside one bar and watching some nice looking English girls chat. Any attempt to approach them though, seemed to be repealed by a wave of denial. Truth is that they were a bit too posh for my teeth, so the only thing I could do was just watch.
I woke up the next morning and decided to get into the Alhambra. I climbed aboard a small minibus and climbed again the hills surrounding the town. This time I did it from the opposite direction. As I was starting to ascend on my way to the magnificent palace, probably the best example of arabic presence in Europe, a canvas was unfolding to my left. For the first time Icould see the old residential neighborhoods of the town as a whole, and not from the viewpoint of a tired traveller navigating their streets. When I reached the palace, I realised what the Islamophobic knitpickers have been missing the whole time. The Alhambra was creates at a time when the christian west was either chasing witches, or being tormented by never-ending wars. At a time when the Arabs where rescuing artifacts, science and philosophy, the christians where operating like cross carrying jihadis . No wonder why the Arabic scholars of the time viewed Europeans as savages. The Alhambra was an architectural masterpiece in a time when Europe was being destroyed by religious fanaticism. Even if one counts out the tactical ingenuity of its fortification and the way it contacted its network of outposts (actually the Alhambra worked more as a coordination station between some outposts and barracks than as a defencive structure itself), one can sit and just watch the decorations and the craftsmanship of the interior of the buildings, a virtue that was then possessed by a lucky few craftsmen working of tiles drawings and building in the Arabic world.
After taking a close look into the castle, I decided to take a walk along the path passing right under the Alhambra. This path (or walkway if translated correctly), was closely linked with one of the most celebrated poets of Europe, friend to Salvador Dali and Luis Bunuel, and local hero. Frederico Garcia Lorca. Under any circumstances this quiet walkway, could be a lover’s spot. But at the moment when I was walking along the path, there where only a few tourists and pensioners enjoying the quiet street. I walked and walked until I got completely lost in the forest. Then I sat down and listened to the calls of nature. It was just magnificent and I was in the middle of it. Later as I was walking bck toward town, I saw a memorial plate, similar to the ones I had spotted in Bologna. This was dedicated to Frederico Garcia Lorca. Apparently the poet liked walking along this way. One of his poems was on this plate, not his photo nor his bust.

As I was descending back to town, I felt the warm Andalucian afternoon arrive. It was warmish but not hot. I went for a change of clothes and a bath. The night was coming and suddenly I was thinking of Frederico and the other three, executed some eight kilometres away from here, by the Fascists. As the big semifinal was coming, I was feeling a great shadow being cast over the town. I felt the ghost of Lorca lurking around, waiting to see the faces of those who murdered him, taking part in all this.

As the sun was setting I was more and more in need of one last drink. So I went back to the tapas bars and sipped one beer after another, eating one tapa after another, while I was watching the Furias Rojas waltz their way into the finals of the European Championship. I left a town painted red, to get to sleep. A twentyfour-hour trip awaited me next morning, and I needed all the rest I could take. So I surrendered to the warm Andalucian night, in anticipation of my 11:00 AM Cercania to Seville.