Assistant Editor Kate Sommers-Dawes continues her reports from Spain:
Had the most thrilling day today (my first day alone, as the journalist group left this morning). I awoke with no plan except to find a hostel to stay in the city center for tomorrow night and ended up with all kinds of new friends and plans for tomorrow – this may be the best city I’ve ever been in as a solo traveler…
On the bus into the city center, I ran into the director of the school where I will be going tomorrow night to watch the world cup game who gave me all kinds of tips on places to eat, parks to sit in, and even pointed me toward a place to buy a Real Madrid t-shirt for my brother. He will also be teaching me to make his world famous sangria tomorrow evening. After parting ways and procuring a delicious falafel sandwich and smoothie, I wandered into a store full of Moroccan wares and struck up a conversation with the man behind the counter, who happened to be from Baghdad, had been in Granada only five years, and spoke very good English. Naturally, we began to talk about the war and he gave me his perspective on life in Baghdad during the American invasion. He had been present for the Nisoor square massacre and told me of his interactions with American soldiers searching his home time and time again, looking for terrorists. In fearing for his life, he came to Spain, where he had relatives but knew no Spanish. Having worked as a software engineer in Iraq, he is now working toward his PhD in Granada so he may someday return to that work.
After our lengthy discussion, I wandered over to a little bar in the Albaicin (a historical barrio in Granada with Romani/Gypsy roots) and struck up a conversation with a Canadian couple from Vancouver. They had moved to Cairo so that the husband could work as an art teacher in the international school there, teaching the children of diplomats and high level American military. They both volunteer after hours in a small, struggling school teaching English to Sudanese refugees who, apparently, receive little to no help from the Egyptian government. I am meeting with them again tomorrow afternoon so that we can discuss their work more. The three of us later began speaking with an Australian woman who lives in Bali and runs a free school for the Balinese children there who need the language as the country relies more and more on English speaking tourists…In short, an inspiring afternoon!
We arrived in Granada and visited two language schools including Don Quixote and Escuela Montalban. Montalban, especially seemed like a lovely place to study, though both directors were wonderful and engaging. Later, we explored the Alhambra, which was nothing short of breathtaking. Prior to visiting, I hadn’t realized it was a citadel and therefore the size of a small city — days could be spent wandering within its walls. Flowers blossoms and myrtle were everywhere, causing wonderful scents to waft around us as we walked. The sound of running water and gorgeous views of the city below were around every corner. Though it gets chilly at night, the weather here is like a perfect fall day in far away Southern California… breezy, sunny, pleasant, invigorating. After visiting another school que se llama Castila (I liked it so much I’m going back to watch the Spain v Honduras Copa Mundial match with them), which was in a hundreds-of-years-old Spanish casa, we dined at an incredible restaurant in view of the Alhambra at night. The Tempranillo/Cabernet blend served with our colorful, myriad tapas was unforgettable. I could go on forever about Granada and its winding, cobblestone streets, the sounds of Flamenco from unseen places, and Moorish architectural influences, but I think I’ll get out there and explore so I’ll have more to report.