Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Granada. Oh, Granada.
I’ve been here for about a week and a half and although I want to visit the beach and nearby hot springs, cannot bring myself to leave this city. I have moved out of the house of South American jewelry makers, and into a cave overlooking the city. Cave life is quite common in Granada. Once occupied by gypsies or used as hideouts during the Spanish civil war, these spaces are now available for squatting.
Life in Granada is more than leisurely. It is super easy to live cheaply in this town and they take their afternoon siesta and Sunday as a day of rest seriously. Not even the dogs bark at you on Sundays.
While there is sprawl in Granada, most of the places I go are centrally located. First, there is the Albyzin. This is the old city of Granada. The houses are all white, the streets are all narrow, 3 meters wide, at best. I never really know where I’m going when I walk through the Albyzin because it all looks the same. It is small enough that if you have a general direction, you are probably fine. The only way that I can tell where I’m at is by memorizing the graffiti, which sometimes spans whole blocks. For example, when I lived with the South Americans, I knew that if I went down hill at “punk rock ally,” an ally which was painted as a tribute to the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, I was almost home. The graffiti here is amazing. Beautiful murals and intricate stencils.
In the hills above the Albyzin is San Miguel, an asylum for young boys. The caves of Granada are also located in these hills. It is a strange relationship that would never be allowed to exist in the States. Cave dwellers use the communal fountain at San Migual to collect water, wash laundry and take showers. Their parking lot is also a favorite for late night partying and car camping. Many of the “established” caves are located along the newly installed, ½ mile staircase leading up to San Miguel. Some of these caves have, water, electricity, a postal box marked “Cuava No. ##“ and one even has a separate cave for the family horse!
To get to my cave, you go past San Miguel, past the new condo development (wtf!?!) up the path of the next mountain and you’re almost there. It is about a 45 minute walk from downtown to the cave. The cave I live in is near the top of the mountain, about 50 meters away from Zona Militar. A military base where I’ve heard they develop technology for the USA and Israel. It has a small entrance, about one meter x one meter. It opens up into a cave that is big enough to stand up in and goes back about 40 feet. The cave has been outfitted by all dumpstered goods. It is quite impressive. The fellow who resides there full time is named Mira, and he is a master recycler, as they call it here. Right now it is Mira, myself, my friend Rachel that I met in Barcelona and another friend named Shanti live in the cave. It is plenty big for all of us.
Some of the highlights of the past week in Granada have been: the amazing feast Rachel and I had at Taran’s house (a friend of friend from Eugene who is also living in a cave in Granada). Taran’s mother and her friend are visiting from Independence, Oregon and they invited us over for a small dinner party with them and a few of their friends from Granada. There was orange bread, hummus, prawns, spicy peppers, roasted red pepper soup, potatoes and homemade sangria. The best part of the meal however, was the Chula hot sauce that Taren’s mom brought him from the States. Apparently he has been missing hot sauce just as much as I have. Oh, the funniest part of the night was when Taren met us down in Plaza Nueva. I wasn’t sure if I would recognize him, since it had been years since we’d met (on the infamous midnight rafting trip, actually). But luckily, I noticed a fellow walking through the plaza in Chacos…the official shoe of Oregon. I, also wearing Chacos, walked up to this guy and it was, of course, Taren.
Another highlight of Granada life was the night that I was able to scale the 15 foot wall to reach the ripe pomegranate tree on the other side. I had been drooling over this tree since the day I got here. So many; so ripe. Then on one lucky night, Rachel and I were walking home and…a car! A car was parked next to the wall. Being just drunk enough to work out the details in my mind, I scaled the car and hopped the wall. We brought home about 50 pomegranates that night.
I’ve also improved my hooping skills a ton here. I met a woman from Argentina who learned to hoop in Mexico. She has taught me tons of tricks. I also found a shop in Granada to buy sparkle tape. Well worth the 8 Euro spurge. So now my hoop looks beautiful!
There are also a few really wonderful meet up points in Granada which Rachel and I, along with most other travelers and artisans frequent. One is the Mirador, a viewpoint for the Alhambra. And the other is a park, the most amazing place to watch the sunset. Granada is a mecca for guitar players around the world and in the evenings they meet in the park and play together. During the day there are drum circles which create a nice beat for hooping.
Alright, this seems to be the end of the report for now. Love.


  1. Did you know that the word for pomegranete in Spanish is Granada???

    Fun fact :)

  2. Also:

    You can play soccer while you're there!