Jasmine not Dog Poo

Granada Travel Blog

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I had a thought during the week. I wanted to record all the little details about my new life before they become routine and normal. You know how it is in a new place. You are constantly comparing how things are done, what they look like, sound like and smell like with life back ‘home’.

It has been a total whirlwind since I arrived with all my time totally scheduled and not really a lot of time to just wander and get lost on purpose. A favorite passtime of mine when I get somewhere new is to wander the streets getting lost. As Saturday is the only day all the shops are open and I am not studying, it is my special day to get to know Granada. Last Saturday I set off at about 10.00am for the shops, hoping to make the most of it before everything closes at 2.00pm for siesta. After that it is pot luck which shops open up again. Also, August is the month when most people just shut up and head off to the beach somewhere. Most people living in the cities still have a ‘pueblo’ to head for. It is normally where the family has it’s roots. It could be a farm or a coastal village and mum or dad may still live there year round. It is such a lovely tradition. So much nicer than ‘going to Disneyland’ or ‘doing the theme parks on the Gold Coast’ uuuuugh!

So back to my meanderings. I made my way through ‘tea alley’ as the Moroccan vendors were setting up their wares for the day. The smell of fruit tea and incense pervades the air and wafts a broad smile across my face. It’s a cheeky smile as I am thinking of the fun I am planning when I finally do get across the water to Northern Africa and make it to Morocco.
You know, the imaginary list of ‘things I must do before I die’ ? Well, mine is so old that it is almost disintegrating but at the very top I can still make out the words ‘Visit Morocco and have a romantic escapade’ Oh yes, it’s still possible so I am going to keep it at the very top until I make it happen - just like coming to Spain to live.

I was really surprised to see that many of the shops sell Nag Champa incense. I thought that it would only be popular in Asian countries but was mistaken. It is like a slap on my memory nodes every time I smell it. It was the incense used when I was becoming a Reiki channel and much later a Reiki Master. So it is part of who I am. I also used it in my home in Melbourne, especially after one of those massive cleaning Saturdays. So for me it evokes a mixture of memories, overlaid with the new promise of a romance in Morocco!

Emerging from tea alley I crossed the main road towards the Cathedral and made my way to the market. It is indoors and not as big as I had imagined. There are some wonderful fish stalls, ones selling fresh meat including sheep heads and pigs ears. The market reminds me a lot of Vic Market in Melbourne but the foods are a little different. The cheese and deli stalls are wonderful. There are dozens of different styles and colours of Chorizo and I go nuts ordering a few slices of this and a few slices of that. Like a kid in a candy store I collect little bundles of precious goodies. Each one is freshly sliced, weighed and then wrapped in a large square of thick waxy paper. It is so old fashioned and makes the bounty seem even more precious. I can’t go past the cured sheep and goats cheeses but realizing that I do not have Mr Trolley with me I decide to take it easy and just go for some manchego (sheep) cheese.

Emerging with my little parcels I wander aimlessly and find myself in a Barrio (neighbourhood) called San Pedro! A local panaderia (bakery) has my name on the door and I can’t resist a Napolitana de Chocolate (like a chocolate pastry) freshly baked and still slightly warm. The pastry is as good as you will find anywhere in France and I try to sneak a few flakes from the within the brown paper wrapping so as not to be noticed. Although it would not really be ‘wrong’ to eat in the streets, it is just not the done thing here. Eating is for family, friends and TABLES. What a concept. Yes, here in Spain we eat sitting down and take our coffee in a cup. There really aren’t takeaways and you never see anyone eating anything but icecream in the street. Maybe that is why the streets are so much cleaner?

On the topic of bakeries, that reminds me of a little trip I made this week before classes started. I wanted to get a few things from the little supermarket in Plaza Larga, near the school. It was 8.50am and I rushed up the cobbled streets to the Plaza. What did I find but the doors shut tight. I guess 9.00am it a little too early when you eat dinner at 10pm and get to bed around 2am on a normal week night. I also noticed that the panaderia was firmly shut. Take a note to start getting to bed later and thus waking up later if you want chocolate pastries for brekky.

At this time of the morning you would expect hustle and bustle but the only noise is the rattle of teaspoons from the open bars serving hot strong coffee and bolleria or tostadas for breakfast. The streets are silent, mainly because there are few cars and the motorbikes are little putt putt vespas. The silence in the morning is precious. I love it as I walk the 3 minutes to school, mostly never passing another soul. By 9.30 most people are then wandering peacefully to their jobs or to the markets.

Last weekend I had another ‘first’. I actually saw a couple of people exercising. It was about 9.00am Sunday morning and two people were running along next to the river that separates the Alhambra from the Albaicin. It was still cool (in the 20s) and they were jogging along the cobbles with apparent ease. I do not think it would be the surface of choice for me but when in Rome . . .

The little river is really just a stream and only a trickle at the moment. It sits about 10m below the road level and is bounded by stone walls on both sides, connected by cute mediaeval looking bridges every so often. A group of us collect at one of the outdoor bars after school on Friday nights and sip tinto de veranos as the sun goes down and the buskers come out.

One of my favourite things to do is sit side-saddle on the wall and watch the communities of cats that inhabit the tussock and bushes alongside the little river. They are huge and there are very large family groups and kittens of all ages. Blissful moments in time for me.
I often wondered how they could get enough food to eat in the little strip of vegetation. This was answered recently when I noticed a large group of healthy cats eating a pile of chunky meat. On investigation I noticed a woman holding several more large bowls of food. She was emptying these at intervals along the river and the lucky felines were going nuts. What a kind and sensitive human. No wonder there are so many healthy kittens.

The dog population in Granada far outweighs the cat population though. In all my romantic talk of life here I have omitted to talk about the hippy sub-culture that has adopted this laid back town. Many dredlock-wearing travellers seemed to have wandered into Granada and never wandered out again. They all seem to own a dog and as there is no dog poop by-law here, the streets are paved with dog poo in all stages of decay.

It does not rain for months so there is nothing to wash it away. And even though the rubbish bins placed strategically in every Plaza have a mini sized brush and shovel hanging at the ready, they are seldom used.
Early mornings can be a bit of a dodgem course but after a while you just get used to it and take more notice of the jasmine, incense and pastries than the dog poo.

Maybe that’s a good way to look at life. Focus on the jasmine not the dog poo!
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photo by: Chokk