Thursday, October 13, 2005


It has started happening. My itinerary has begun forcing me to leave places before I feel ready. As much as I loved Amsterdam, Paris and Barcelona, my last day in each location was marked by a sense of closure, of completeness. I knew it was time to move on. But in Bilboa and especially Granada, I have to move on before I am ready. Rick Steves suggests giving Granada "two nights and a day." Bullshit. I could stay herre a week and feel completely at home, and that´s with having seen the major tourist sites in two days. I feel I could emmigrate to Granada and be happy. It appears neo-hippies from all nations already have. The town functioned as a battleground between Islam and Christianity hundreds of years ago, so the architecture and the "vibe" of the town reflects the best of both worlds. It´s where Columbus made his pitch to Ferdinand and Isabel, who now lie in plain wood coffins beneath a beautifully carved stone crypt. It´s what I thought, what I hoped, Spain would be like. If I can´t make it to Morocco for some reason, I´m coming back to Granada. (Or flying to England. I haven´t really made my mind up yet.)

Two nights ago, I sat in a tea house and felt completely at peace. Last night I went to an Arabian Bath and felt completely at peace. Arabian bath: large communal hot pool, a cool room, and 20 minute massage included. I loved exploring the Alhambra, once I figured out their seemingly complex admitance policy.

Oh yeah. One of my typically bonehead moments proved a. how dumb I am, and b. how easy it is to get out an embarassing social situation by slapping yourself on the forehead when the people around you are cool. I had had two beers and two tapas (little bar snacks - bigger than hors d´ouvres, smaller than appeatizers) at a neighborhood bar. When I asked for the tab, the bartender, who looked like an ex-boxer, and, even though I don´t speak enough Spanish to be sure, seemed to be getting picked on by the other smaller, fiestier bartender (sort of like a small yappy dog intimidating a stout bulldog) rung it up on one cash register and told me the cost. When he did this, I swear I saw the same amount appear on the cash register closest to me. I assumed they were linked.

I gave the barman 10 euros, he gave me my change, which on inspection, seemed a little short. "Uh..." I said, looking at my change and the amount on the register close to me. He repeated the amount and the change several times, as if he was trying to teach a slow child basic math. "But..." I finally said, pointing to the register. "No no no" said the smaller bartender, pointing to the register that was actually used. The amount was slightly different, and the change was correct. I literally, and a little theatrically, slapped my forehead and repeated "Lo siento, lo siento," which is Spanish for "I´m sorry." The big bartender signaled that it was okay, and gave me a big friendly grin. He was missing his two front teeth.


Iva said...

Hi, John
I wrote an answer to you and I lost computer skills are at work again. I said in it that I am so happy that you are enjoying your travels and the trips to the museums, etc., so much. Your thoughts about certain works of art just overwhelming you are absolutely right on the money. Somewhere I saw a sculpture called "The Ecstasy of St. Theresa"...I don't know where I saw it or who the artist was, but it is so beautiful, it lifts you heavenward when you look at it. It is wonderful that you get the same feeling about so many things that you have seen.
All is well here. Nothing really is new. Aunt JuleAnn has gone back to Ohio, Bobbi and Gavin will be leaving for Allentown on Saturday and for Tampa on Monday. We have had a most enjoyable time together.

colette said...

oh john please reconsider & go to morocco! I just recently bought a tangine and I'm going to be pickling my own lemons this weekend(preserved lemons are a mainstay of moroccan cooking-- more info than you probably need to know)...I was so looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the country and such! And yes I haven't seen you in probably 5 years and here I am telling you what to do...I apologize. I have enjoyed reading your posts and look forward to what you'll encounter next.


Heather said...

You can't skip Morocco! I nearly died from food poisoning there and it was still one of the best experience of my life.

I felt for Sevilla the way you do for Granada. But Morocco is unnerving and upending and totally disorienting and I loved it. Skip the dried apricots, though. Just take my word for it.

bill said...


I must echo Collette and Heather, urging you to get thee on a plane to Morocco.

John's Mom,

The Teresa is by Bernini, and found in Rome.


Carol said...

Perhaps whilst in Morocco you can look up our old foreign exchange student, Messod.

the hanged man said...

Alright! You all win. I´m heading to Morocco tomorrow. Actually I just bought my bus ticket to Tarifa (in Spain) where I will catch a ferry to Tangier.

My only regret is that I will not have enough time to make it to Marakesh. It looks like it will only be Tangier, Fes and Rabat.


Iva said...

Well, it looks as if I am the only one who is ANTI-Morocco! With the political situation being what it is, especially this weekend, Moslem countries are not the place you want to be!
Bill, thank you for the information on "The Ecstasy..." Was it it St. Peter's that I saw it? I can't honestly remember.