Granada, Maybe?

6 June 2011

Granada, España

The only sound is the clink of a knife against someone’s plate. Everyone glances, then looks back down at nothing again.

It’s one of those really awkward breakfasts, where no-one really knows what to say to each other, that hasn’t happened to me in hostels before. So, here I am waiting awkwardly for my toast to come out of the toaster. My excuse is that I woke up fifteen minutes ago.

Granada is one of the last places in the country that has a noticeable Arabic influence from the once prominent Islamic population of Spain. There’s some old, old Arabic baths somewhere up in the mountains, of which I make my mission today. Just five minutes later in an outdoor shop I run into the French & Mexican couple I was speaking to earlier in the dorm. They experience more of my charming unpractised French, and join me in the mission uphill.

Until they meet some family friends from France that they didn’t even know were in Granada. “It looks like we’ll see you back at the hostel later this evening”

I walk off and up, stopping at a small river along the way, with little bridges crossing into nowhere. A big fortification overlooks the path up town. I hear some French, and look over to see the couple again, looking down to the river. In the space of just over an hour I’ve accidentally bumped into these people twice, and we just so happen to be going to the same place, so we head on up–again.

Each cobble-stone step we climb up I keep thinking to myself how I put this place as a ‘maybe’ on my list. It’s an incredible place. Countless tiny alleyways give a unique little frame to the mountain faces opposite. We get to the baths, immaculately tiled, and they are somewhat quieter than they would have been several hundred years ago. Once we reach a high point, the couple laugh at how I almost zoomed through this place, as a man starts strumming his nylon strings. There’s a’point of view’ as the Frenchman calls it, to Granada and other towns nestled below. From here it looks like you’re just looking down onto a small section of the globe. The song finishes and a pitter patter of rain becomes a proper downpour, cooling the big white tiles beneath us, so we hide under the terracing of the big white church.

On our way down the Mexican’s obsession with all things Arabic lead us to finish the day at an Arabic tea house. They serve us some truly sweet tea under big round Turkish lights and hookahs all around. When I come to ask what they think of the tea, I realise I haven’t got anything to call them; we’ve spent all day without actually knowing each others’ names.

There’s Mexican Citlalmina and French Jean-Baptiste, who are probably the best-looking couple I’ve ever seen. When they aren’t reserved about themselves, they’re incredibly modest about the things they’ve done in their lives. French Jean-Baptiste works two months on a ship, managing crew, then two months off.’So what is it actually like living on the water for two months?’ ‘Well, sometimes it’s hard–it’s quite difficult, actually.’ ‘Can you stay in touch with anybody?’ ‘Sometimes we won’t have any phone or internet for over a month.’ Mexican Citlalmina works as a professional translator, Spanish & French. I still don’t know why she left Mexico, nor how these two people could ever have met. Then again, we all met each other somehow.

The rain isn’t really much of a novelty anymore. Granada completely shuts down when it’s raining, and the once bustling streets are just pathways for draining water. I’m wearing my jeans and rainjacket that I thought I wouldn’t need for at least two months, hood tightly up over my head.