Category Archives: Granada

Quien no arriesga, no gana

My friend Liz, who has lived as an expat several times, recently mused about why living abroad is so conducive to having adventures and why we don’t have more of them on our home turf.

“Is it inertia?” she asked. “Or high overhead? job-related fatigue? exhausting infrastructure?”

Yes, times four.

It’s also worth noting that adventure is defined as “an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.” I can’t imagine myself taking risks at home the way I have done in Spain—risks that lead to moments of discomfort and vulnerability and frustration and loneliness and self-doubt and pride and self-confidence and resilience and bliss. When I feel especially uncomfortable—feeling tongue-tied during three and a half hours (!!) of small talk in Spanish with moms at a kid’s birthday party, as just one example—I try to remember that the bigger the risk, the bigger the potential payout.

N.B At that same three and a half hour birthday party, I traded phone numbers with the mother of a sweet boy Lou is getting to know through their shared love of Legos and science experiments. Yesterday the mother texted me to see if her son could come to our house to play while she attends a work meeting—my hours of wanting to be anywhere but at that party were not in vain!

Vía verde en Cadíz

It’s a six or seven year-long tradition at Lou’s school for a group of parents to organize an overnight trip to explore one of Spain’s vía verdes, or disused railroad tracks that have been ripped up and turned into bike paths. We’re lucky that this year’s trip (May 14 – 15) was on possibly the most beautiful vía verde in Andalucía, under perfect weather conditions.

Cadiz via verdeThe trip started Saturday morning in Olvera, about a two-hour drive west of Granada. Our group of about 100 people, mostly on rented bikes, traveled 30 kilometers along a gentle decline (!!) through rolling hills and a preserve for black vultures, past wildflowers and pastures where fighting bulls are raised and trained, and through nearly a dozen tunnels. We ended with a coach transfer to our countryside hotel in Prado del Rey, where a bouncy house awaited the not-tired kids. We all had a lovely dinner together before retiring to our rooms or individual log cabins, and after a leisurely breakfast the next morning a big group of us went on a hike along a rushing river.

One of the three amazing (American!) organizers is a really good amateur videographer — see the video he created (2:36) for an idea of what the trip was like.

Ibiza y Formentera

España IbizaLast week we had the pleasure of spending time with Pete’s aunt and uncle at the puig, what they call the hilltop vacation home Pete’s uncle and seven friends built on the island of Ibiza in the early 1970s. We ate some really good meals; listened to Pete’s uncle order meals and chat with the neighbors in Catalan,* which is closely related to the local dialect called Eivissenc (ibicenco in Spanish); and oohed and ahhed over one cove and beach after another. I also became fascinated with jellyfish, which it turns out are like cockroaches of the sea, only venomous (I do not regret the 45 minutes I spent watching Attack of the Giant Jellyfish).

The picture gallery below does not include unflattering images of Ibiza or sunburned, overstuffed tourists or extremely attractive 20-somethings looking forward to a foam party DJ’d by David Guetta at Amnesia or Privilege, nor does it include pictures of Jane and Luis or the friends they invited to the puig, or my entire collection of jellyfish pictures.

*Catalan is a language spoken in Catalunya, a region bordered by France and the Mediterranean where there has been political activity to promote separation from Spain. Valenciano (spoken in Valencia, the region south of Catalunya) and Mallorquín (spoken on the islands of Mallorca and Menorca) are dialects of Catalan. Gallego, spoken in far northwestern Spain, is another language. And in the Basque region there’s Euskera, which is a “language isolate.” This means it doesn’t seem to have any lingusitic relatives (unlike Catalan, which is like a mashup of Spanish, French and Latin). Euskera has its own handful of dialects. All this in a country the size of Texas!

Una especie de descuido

Pics from last month…

los Legos

 

 


 

 

Día de la Cruz

May 3rd is Day of the Cross and is celebrated as a popular holiday in multiple Spanish-speaking countries. In Granada, neighborhood and business associations around the city decorate crosses with flowers and thematic elements, and people make an afternoon or evening out of strolling from one to the other. Often there’s recorded traditional music playing, and larger plazas host live music and dance performances. However, because spring weather and strolling from one plaza to another seem to invite barhopping, Día de la Cruz in Granada is now associated with drinking, like a Spanish Grand Old Day.

musicos

At the end of our street on the eve of Día de la Cruz

 Young women dancing (0:21)

Nísperos

Nísperos, also known as loquats, are in season. To me the peeled flesh has the texture and sweet-tangy taste of kiwi fruit, but instead of many tiny seeds there is just one (or two or three or four) forming the core.

nisperos

huesos de un nispero

Ocios al aire libre

A week ago I took a bus to the village of Beas de Granada with some American friends, then we walked 16k back to Granada. We congratulated ourselves several times for picking the perfect day.desde Beas de Granada hacia la Sierra Nevada

cactus de agave

mostaza

This plant (mustard?) was blooming on the plains along the Río Darro, along with the occasional red poppy and other spring flowers.

 

Last weekend we biked into the vega with another family to have lunch on a patio overlooking asparagus fields.

Charavinillos

The restaurant occupies an old farmhouse. It was such a beautiful day, all the diners chose to sit outside.

Sheep and goat crossing near the restaurant  (0:21)

recorrido en bici

Biking back toward Granada. The Sierra Nevada mountains still have some snow, but it’s going fast.

 

Yesterday I hiked with some Americans in the Lecrin Valley south of Granada, where a microclimate is perfect for growing oranges.

Bees (0:03)

la flor del naranjo

The scent? Meh. Probably just what heaven smells like.

amapolas

Use your imagination here: orange blossoms, poppies, dappled sunlight, the faint hum of bees and chirping of birds…

cerca de Melegís

acequia en Melegís

Snow melt flows along this irrigation channel in the village of Melegís

migas con peces y morcilla

Fancy migas (fried bread crumbles)