My friend the Shopping Trolley

Granada Travel Blog

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With so much of my day taken up with school work at the moment, time to get the daily chores done is in short supply. Stocking up on groceries is therefore a once a week event for me. There is a supermarket chain here called Mercadona and I have discovered one about 3km from home (down the hill).

Julia had kindly offered the use of her shopping trolley while I am here so last week I enlisted Sarah’s assistance (and muscles) and decided to do a big shop for the week ahead. Getting down to the market was a cinch - in fact I trotted along happily with the handle of the trolley hooked over my shoulder.

One of the reasons for this is the perilously narrow ‘streets’ up in the Albaicin. They were clearly built in times pre-automobiles because pedestrians here have adopted a survival technique akin to a spy manoeuvre. As you hear a car approach, you cement yourself to the walls, feet in close and pulling your chest in also to avoid the wind rush. It becomes automatic after a while and travelling in pairs can be quite funny. You complete the crazy suction move without even drawing breathe, continuing conversations as the car passes.
Once off the Albaicin, the streets become normal width and walking the footpaths is easier.

The shopping expedition took place after a full day at school, so it was about 7.30pm and I noticed the digital temperature gauge at the Plaza de Isabel Católica displaying 39C. It always makes me grin when I pass this spot. Since I have been here it has been in the 20’s only once and that was 8.00am on a Saturday morning. Sorry about the skiting, you Melbournites!

Arriving at Mercadona, we noticed a special corral for the shopping trolleys. For 1 Euro, you get a key to lock the handle of your trolley and it remains there, making friends with all the other trolleys until you have finished shopping. Very civilized!

Like a kid in a candy store (my fridge was bare), I scanned the nearest aisle and started to toss treasures into the little plastic baskets on wheels. Sarah and I had a basket each and really didn’t notice how much we were piling in. The fruit was half the price of the corner stores so I went bananas (I know - lame!) and stocked up on the beautiful peaches, nectarines and other local fruit varieties (the name escapes me).

The final straw was the alcohol aisle. A favourite of the locals at this time of the year is Tinto de Verano, a refreshing mix of red wine, lemonade and lemon juice. It is poured over loads of ice and has an almost zero alcohol content. At only a euro for a large pre-mixed bottle we thought we should get a couple so added them to the heap. Once through the checkout, we realised the error of our ways.

With aforementioned trolley now rescued from the trolley-sitting spot, we began to load it up. Not two thirds the way through and we were already grabbing supplementary shopping bags. I was so thankful to have Sarah with me to help. Outside it was still the same temperature, if not hotter! Emerging from the cool air conditioned market we were jolted back to the reality of the 3km hike home - back up the Albaicin!

The first 2kms were a breeze, wide flat footpaths and only a few two legged obstacles to circumnavigate. We alternated between pulling the trolley and carrying the extra bags until we reached the Albaicin. At this point I thought that the decent thing would be for me to take the first part of the uphill slog.

As well as being steep, it is also irregular cobbled steps! Picture me lifting this damn trolley (weighing about 15kgs) up the first flight of these in 38C heat. After the first ‘landing’ spot I noticed Sarah a little way ahead of me laughing hysterically as she took out her camera to capture the moment. I must have looked precious. We both stopped to regain composure (an excuse to get our breaths) and swapped roles. Two flights later and we passed the little fountain in the placeta near home. A quick splash and we took the final few steps for womankind.

Thanks for your help Sarah - and note that this week I did not take the trolley but adopted an ‘only buy it if you ABSOLUTELY need it’ approach! No tinto de verano and only my little backpack to lug up the hill. Much more successful.

Now that I have also discovered a small grocery, bakery and Tuesday/Thursday fruit market in the Albaicin, I have a new approach to the ‘weekly shop’. I do several mini shops after school and a biggish one on Friday nights down at the Mercadona.

On Wednesday this week, four of us girls went to see a beautiful Flamenco show up at the Alhambra. It was timed to start at 10.00 so Sarah and I arrived a little earlier (via bus) and had a cool drink at a cute outdoors bar near the ticket office. One of the Alhambra ‘wild’ cats came to visit us at out bar table. Clearly I was in my element - hot balmy night, wine in hand and kitten smooching on my feet!

Sylvia and Sophia joined us and we in turn joined the locals and tourists winding our way through the beautiful Generalife (sounds like ‘hen-er-al-ee-fay’) gardens to the outdoor theatre. Although our seats were at the back, we were ‘centre on’ to the stage. Being outdoors was spectacular and it stayed warm all evening.

The 2-hour show had me spellbound. With a cast of around 20 people, each ‘act’ was quickly followed by another - costumes getting more and more spectacular. The women’s Flamenco dresses were my favourite and I wondered how they must train for some of the manoeuvres. In one of the ‘songs’ the bottom of the dresses tapered to a long and very heavy and ornate fish tail. The dance required that they kick the dress around to prevent a nasty accident entwining themselves as they twisted. It was fascinating watching. The male dancers were just as spectacular and every bit as cliched as I had hoped! Mmmm

And can I mention the music and the singing - haunting does not really do it justice. In fact, I wish I knew more about the Flamenco culture so I could have understood some of the dances. The show was based on the poetry of Lorca, one of Granada’s most famous sons. Last time I was here I vowed that I would read some of his work as he seemed fascinating and lived here in a very romantic era. It did not happen but now I am even more keen to research and get to know a little more. Stay tuned.

The trip back home required that we walk down the hill of the Alhambra, across Plaza Neuva and up the Albaicin hill. There were no buses so it was either a long walk or a taxi. Clearly common sense prevailed and we joined the taxi queue, not too far from the front. I was expecting a very long wait (distant memories of Melbourne on any week night in the city!) and was pleasantly surprised to notice the taxis pulling up at regular intervals as the one-way traffic lights allowed.

Occasionally someone form the back of the queue would nonchalantly mosie towards the front as if to queue-jump. Those near the front would politely (but very directly and loudly) call out ‘hacer cola’ (‘there’s a queue, you plonker’ Actually I added the plonker bit as it sounds better). So civilized and social are the Spanish!

A very funny driver took us home and had to stop at the bottom of the famous ‘trolley steps’ to let me out for the walk up to my welcoming appartment. The others could take the taxi closer to their accommodation. There are only a few streets in the Albaicin that cars can travel on so it is important to select a home near one of these. Clearly, my beautiful temporary home is not one of these.

What a week it was at school. I taught my first full lesson to adult students and received a very commendable mark. I still have room for improvement and have another four classes to present as part of the course. I also have a one-on-one student assigned to me. I will be doing a project with her and have to meet several times outside of school hours to complete the requirement.

Maria is a Flamenco dancer but does not dance professionally any more due to injuries. She still dances but now only as a teacher. Most of her students she teaches at the university, as part of a course. They are mainly English speakers (American) and she teaches to them in Spanish.

Maria has learnt English from primary age so has a wonderful vocabulary and grammar. My task is to help her with colloquial conversation and some pronunciation. There are some letters and combinations that The Spanish native speakers find very difficult in English. If you ever watched Faulty Towers you will realise that the character of Manuel used this fact to create the comedy around his dialogue- ‘ees bery good Mr Faulty’

I’m off to school again now. It is 3.30 Sunday afternoon and I have to get some lesson planning done before the week starts. Most of Granada is still holed up indoors, keeping cool or just starting the traditional long Sunday lunch with family.

I plan to go to one of the nearby Churches tonight to soak up some local colour and culture and light some candles for friends and family. (My love goes out to you, Lara)

The school is only 2 minutes and 50 seconds up the hill from home (3 flights of steps) so the trolley will not be necessary. It is sitting in the cool dark foyer outside my front door. It appears to reach out to me every time I leave the apartment - ‘take me with you, let me see the light’
You’ve got two shows, Mr trolley - Buckleys and none!
jdanos says:
Hi Gracie
It's wonderful to hear you sounding so happy. I hope that your spanish is progressing well. I'm sure it is seeing you're such a clever clogs.

Everything is going well here. We're very busy at work which is great. My father fell over and broke his hip - this is a serious setback for him so I don't know how he'll go. He's been in hospital for weeks now and is not near going home yet. I was in Sydney for a while staying with mum but my sister is staying with her now so I'm back at work.

You're lovely Danish teak cabinet is well. I'll send you a photo so you can see where we are minding it. was that your cousing who delivered it?

Is this the best way to communicate with you? Can I load pictures onto this site?

Peter is well and says to say hello.It's the middle of our lovely cold weather at the moment so I am most envious when I read about jasmine and warmth.

We miss you a lot but are very happy for you.

lots of love
Posted on: Jul 27, 2009
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photo by: Chokk