Sunday, January 1, 2012


I’ve returned, and Granada is behind me—for now. It was hard to say good-bye, so I didn’t, really. To say good-bye is to admit that there’s an end, and I’m not ready to admit that.

It’s been nice to be home for Christmas, to eat comfort food, to sleep in my own bed. But Granada has cast her charm on me, wrapped me in her invisible spider-web threads, never to let go. Alberto, who sold me my boots in the last full week, told me the story about how eighty years ago his grandmother was sick and the doctor told her to move to Cádiz because the sun and climate was better there than on the east coast of Spain where they lived. The family decided to move, and they made an overnight stop in Granada along the way. The following day, his grandmother and grandfather were already in love with the city. They contacted the doctor, who said Granada’s weather wasn’t as good as that of Cádiz, but she would still be exposed to the healthy Andalusian sun. So they stayed in Granada.

The story is a common one. There’s just something about Granada. Maybe it’s the pace of life. Maybe it’s the beauty of the Alhambra. Maybe it’s the beautiful mix of cultures. Maybe it’s that perfect, freshly-picked orange you eat after lunch, or the slick streets the Granadinas navigate in heels, or the flamenco music in the taxi on the way home at night.

At home my mother and I put up our modest Christmas decorations: two nacimientos, papel picado, and several candles. We lined it all with greenery and it finally smelled like Christmas to me. Back at Mamá Ché’s house, the Belén was a huge affair, a feat of carpentry that took up most of the dad’s time in the last weeks, complete with a windmill and a river that lit up. Christmas was new and strange: polvorones instead of chocolate chip cookies, villancicos sung on busy streets instead of Christmas caroling door-to-door. And all the little markets that sprung up in every main plaza, selling artisan wares and miniatures for the Belenes. Every professional one I saw, from the Belén in the cathedral in Sevilla to the Belén in the Ayuntamiento in Granada, depicted a notion of Bethlehem that closely resembled the Albaicín, or some town in the Alpujarra, the mountains on the outskirts of Granada. The little houses were all whitewashed and jutting out of hillsides, hinting at concealed caves.
The Belén in the Ayuntamiento in Granada

A town in the Alpujarra (with pool)

There is no doubt that one day soon I will return to probe again the depths of Granada’s caves, to dance again to the rhythm of that city at once younger, older, and wiser, than any of its inhabitants or visitors, the city that remembers every harried traveler over the centuries who stopped to drink from her fountains and fell forever in love with her.

Happy New Year, readers, and thank you for sticking with me! I hope it has been enjoyable. For now, I have no more "words from Granada," but I'm not going away! Stay tuned and I'll let you know of my further venturings on the blogosphere.

May 2012 bring adventure and excitement to all of our lives.



  1. Enhorabuena, Alex!

  2. Welcome back, Alex! So have you been inspired to write? (novels, I mean!)

    1. Hi Reiko! Good to hear from you. I've been writing a lot, actually--Spain has pulled quite a bit of poetry out of me. Slowly but surely I'm getting back to my novel, which seems so much more relevant on this side of the Atlantic...