In my new neighborhood it isn’t uncommon to hear acoustic flamenco guitar slipping through open windows. It isn’t uncommon to feel your heartbeat steadily increase as you slowly climb the stone street hills, incense and loose leaf tea smells curl under your nose and the bright trinkets of the Arabian markets—tea cups and hookahs, stained glass lamps and rugs, color your vision. It isn’t uncommon, either, to come across an open plaza with young people slack lining, drum beating, hair braiding, beer drinking, football kicking, the glorious 12th century Alhambra in plain sight across the way, the astounding Sierra Nevada peak just behind.
|view from the old place|
|Laura, Soraya y yo|
I’ve spent the long winter and first part of my Granadino year in the cheaper, shorter-commute-to-work, heated apartment of a working class neighborhood called La Chana. I enjoyed a bedroom window view of the mountains, the romantic sleepy train passing just under it. I enjoyed the cultural experience of Spanish roommates, the incredible meals made by Soraya, the Spanish lingo lessons from Laura, also a feeling that I really grasped the Spanish language having two españolas en casa. I’m happy to say now, as the spring sun comes out to play, I am eating breakfast on the weekends up on my new home’s terrace, overlooking the city, situated just across from the Alhambra. The new neighborhood is called the Albayzin, the labyrinth neighborhood the Muslims occupied when Granada was a somewhat peaceful mixture of Jews, Christians and Muslims. The vibe is hippy, the tourists are many and the old convent—turned temporary residential housing—has an interesting international array of comers and goers. My favorites so far being:
Encarnación (which literally means the flesh of God) the curvy spined, loud gestured 30-something Spanish woman who always asks what you’re eating and never hesitates to tell you what’s on her mind.
Mercedes—the hot/cold Ecuadorian housekeeper, seemingly half my size, with dark hair that reaches her rear. She speaks in only single syllable words and moves as gracefully as water.
This new location is so amazing that it often doesn’t feel real. I smile at the tourist who passes my door as I come home, starry eyed jealousy occupies his face as I turn the key. Yes, I live here.
The country that seems magical to millions, the city that’s enchanted all who’ve come, the neighborhood full of silence, music, mystery all at once.
If you don’t love where you live, I recommend you change it.