Hello again from Granada. It's my fourth week here and I can't believe how fast the time seems to be flying by. As of now, I have successfully run twenty six participants and I have a full list of potential participants scheduled for the upcoming weeks. So from the research perspective, things are looking great. And on the topic of participants, I have to say that I have really been enjoying running mine because they have proven to be a great way for me to make friends here. Not infrequently, after my sessions end, my participants ask me if I would be interested in an intercambio because they want to practice their English. Because I also would like to practice my Spanish, it works out for us both to teach and learn from each other. In this way, I have found many of my closest friends here and gotten to better know the city and its people. Vale, now I'll start with the day by day breakdown. J
Thursday May 24 - Today my morning participant cancelled because she was sick. However, I managed to get another participant in her place, which still left me with three participants for the day. For lunch, I ate with my friend Rafa lunch at la Facultad de Filosofia y Letras. Rafa is a graduate student studying Old and Middle English. My talks with him are always enjoyable because he tells me about Old English tales like Beowulf, the transformation of Germanic languages, and of course Spanish as well. Later in the afternoon, my friend Mallory came back to visit me for the weekend. We had tickets to go to Málaga for the weekend, but our bus didn't leave until Friday night. Entonces, we still had one night and a day together in Granada before our trip. For dinner on Thursday, we went to Francesco's house in Albayzin and he made us some authentic Italian pasta. Delicioso. After, Mallory and I went back to her hotel to catch up on some sleep. Sidenote: as it turns out, this hotel (Hotel Reina Cristina) is of important historical note. Federico Garcia Lorca (Granada's most prominent writer) took refuge here while Franco was hunting him down. Later, Franco's troops found Garcia Lorca and killed him. To this day, no one knows for sure where his body is. And what is interesting is that his family doesn't even want to know. I've read this bit of information somewhere along the way in my studies, but it was validated the other night when my friend Rafa told me that Garcia Lorca's niece (a colleague of his from the university) also does not want to know where her uncle's body is. Essentially, the family doesn't want to create a big scene. They want him to remain an untouched legacy. Learning that Rafa knew Garcia Lorca's niece was all very exciting for me because it doesn't often happen that I read about something in my history book and then meet someone who is involved directly in that historical context.
Friday May 25 - Today my participant had to cancel our appointment, but luckily he was interested in rescheduling. But because I had no participants to run and because I was caught up on all my work, I had the whole day free. Although I missed being at the University, I ended up having a wonderful day soaking up Granadino culture. Mallory and I went to las Cuevas de Sacromonte. Sacromonte, or sacred mountain, is the barrio gitano (gypsy neighborhood) located in the mountains above Albayzin. Sacromonte is known for these caves and also for its famous Flamenco shows. Learning about the culture of this barrio interested me, but what intrigued me most as I walked through and read the plaques on the walls was this little factoid: in the 1950s, gypsies came in great numbers to Sacromonte and almost all of them lived in cave houses. This was only sixty years ago that people were actually living in these caves! I would recommend this museum for anyone. The ride up the mountain alone is enough to make you swoon. You get a breathtaking view of the city and it's a nice quiet oasis apart from the inner city. After walking through the caves, we headed back down to the city to eat and pack for our excursion to Málaga. We grabbed a late night bus and arrived at our hostel around midnight. Upon arrival, Mallory and I were extremely hungry and the owner of the hostel kindly made us some Argentine empanadas. As our hostel was right on the beach, we sat outside for a while to enjoy la brisa maritima (sea-side breeze), but we soon got tired and turned in for the night.
Saturday May 26-Today I woke up and got some breakfast. Then Mallory and I headed into el centro (the city center) for a free walking tour, which our hostel offered. The tour lasted three hours and I loved every minute of it. I learned about Reina Isabel, Fernando, Franco, los romanos, los fenicios, los arabes, the Spanish Inquisition, typical Malagueño culture...etc. After, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then headed to the beach. I have to admit I like the Málaga beach much more than the one I've visited in Granada. It's actually got sand instead of just rock, so my feet were a lot happier here. Also, there are cute little chiringuitos (beach-side cafes) that make for a fun, young, vibrant ambiance. For dinner, we headed back to the hostel because they were making family style paella for all the travelers. After eating, we stayed at the hostel for a while to chat and get to know the other travelers. For the night, one of the girls who worked at the hostel took us out to the centro so that we could see the nightlife. Y hasta la fecha, no tenia nada de lamentar.
Sunday May 27 - Today was our last day in Málaga. Everything ends too soon! After breakfast, we headed into the centro to visit both Picasso's house as well as his art museum. Here I saw some important Picasso pieces, but found that my favorite is one that's not well-known or highly acclaimed; it's called something along the lines of La Mujer a la Puerta del Baile. It's a small work and it uses a lot of shadows, which makes it a bit mysterious. But I like it a lot because the scene reminds me of one of my favorite pub/restaurants here in Granada. It's made of wood and has a lot of candles. Encantador. After having spent upwards of three hours in museums, we needed a break from cognitive and/or creative activity. So we went to the beach, a different one this time. Soon enough, however, we were at the bust station on our way back to Granada for the night.
Monday May 28 - Today I had one participant in the afternoon. After, I had to a make a copy of my apartment key because the original had been giving me problems for the past couple weeks. After running my participant, I spent an hour or two emailing and scheduling participants. After I finished my work, Mallory and I went shopping at some vintage shops. For dinner, we went to a restaurant where the waiter ended up sitting down with us and teaching us a little bit of Gallego (language spoken in Galicia, northwest of Spain). I have never studied Gallego, so it was interesting to see the similarities and differences between Gallego, Portuguese, and Spanish. After some tapas and a Gallego lesson, Mallory and I went to Clair's favorite restaurant/bar to celebrate her birthday with everyone. !Felíz cumpleaños a ella!
Tuesday May 29 - Today was a bit sad for me because Mallory's stay with me had drawn to a close. Early in the morning, I took her back to the airport and after saying our goodbyes, I headed home for a clerical day full of laundry, cleaning, blogging, emailing, finance-sorting...etc. For dinner, I met my friend in el centro. As always in Granada, I ate well and with good company.
Wednesday May 30 - Today I ran one participant in the morning and two in the afternoon. In my downtime, I grabbed lunch with mi amiga Esther and her other friend Laura. Then I took care of some work and booked my tickets for this weekend. Córdoba here I come! At midnight, the Penn State cohort went to los baños arabes in Albayzin. This may have been on my list of top three things to do in Granada. The experience was better than any spa I have ever been to in the U.S. First, we entered a dark cave with sweet smelling candles and sparkling lanterns. The cave was steamy and there were ornate Arabic tiles lining the walls. We sat down to have some sweet tea and then started with the baths. First, you enter el agua templada (warm water). This is where the people congregate and relax. Then, you move to el agua caliente (hot water), which gets your heart pumping and blood flowing. Once you feel you can't take any more hear, you move on to el agua frío (cold water...but in my opinion, very cold water, haha). The point of this all is to get healthy circulation of blood throughout your system. But antiguamente (in the past), the main purpose of the Arab bathhouses was to clean oneself for religious purposes. Although it is used more as a spa today, traditionally, the Muslims would go to the bathhouse to wash themselves before praying, as it is against religious practice to pray when one's body is dirty. After soaking and relaxing in the waters, we then got massages. This was my favorite part and so relaxing. After we were instructed to take a shower. We lingered a bit in the baths after the massage, but soon our reservation was up, and we had to leave. But I have a feeling I will be going back sometime soon. J
Well, that's all for now. Thanks for reading, and as always, ¡pásalo bien!