Bon Iver’s “22, a million” is playing quietly while i sit up in bed writing this on an especially lazy Sunday morning (afternoon?).
So there really is not anything odd about this, except for the difference in location which is less odd, and more wonderful. my little piso in Granada, Spain doesn’t have one of those magnificent views every college student secretly believes will be their own someday. When I look out my window I see mostly clotheslines hanging through alleyways. We have a washer, but not a dryer, which is how things work here. It’s different, but probably the least drastic difference I have encountered thus far, so I have found leaning out my window and clipping clothespins to a line to be oddly comforting. Except for when you drop your favorite sweatshirt onto your downstairs neighbors line and have to very carefully try to express what happened in a language you are still learning.. who says people in apartments don’t get to know their neighbors?
The clotheslines lead from window to window in the tiny courtyard type situation in my building, so the clothespins and lines are completely up for grabs to anybody who can reach them.At college, I have been conditioned not to leave a single thing in the laundry room for fear of theft, and my roommates and I spent our first week meticulously diving up every single storage space in the room so it was clear whose space was whose. I’m not sure if it makes me cynical, but I couldn’t wrap my head around how things didn’t get stolen, or neighbors didn't get into feuds about whose space was whose.
It’s different than that here. In general, people are extremely considerate of each other, and so so kind. On one of my first days in Granada, I sat at a pub (which is different from a bar, although more similar to what Americans call bars) with a few friends. We were the only ones there, clearly still tourists, not yet confident on what time is acceptable to go to a bar, or a pub, or a restaurant for lunch. Regardless, the bartender sat and explained to us the location of different ‘discotecas’ with astonishing patience for our small knowledge of the Spanish language. She even explained words when we couldn't figure out what they meant. It’s patience and tolerance like this that has characterized so many of the interactions I’ve had like this whether trying to buy a pair of tights, make sure the food I’m ordering is vegetarian, or even trying to find my ‘bufanda’. Turns out, going on a mad witch hunt for your missing scarf is the best way to get to know a city.
It’s been a quick two weeks since I moved to Granada, but I sure have managed to do a lot since I arrived. The morning after me (plus 12 others) arrived we took a placement test and toured the city. The following day we started our 4-hour-a-day intensive Spanish course, which kicks my butt on the daily, but I know I’m learning more Spanish than I ever have before. Since those first two days, I have toured the historic Albayzin neighborhood, seen a Flamenco show, hiked the Los Cahorros trail in Monachil, toured the Granada Cathedral and ‘Capilla Real,’ and this weekend I will finally see the beautiful, famed Alhambra. And all of these things are wonderfully incredible and beautiful beyond any kind of thing I may have imagined, but I have found, already, that I remember and cherish the seemingly average, day-to-day things just as much, and sometimes even more than the grand adventures.
It’s things like coming home on Monday afternoons and talking with the woman who cleans my apartment. She hasn’t failed to ask me about my day yet, and constantly encourages me to practice my Spanish with her.
I’ve found that the nights where I go out and get tapas, small little dishes that are ‘gratis’ when you order a drink, with my friends are some of the most special. As we all sit around a table, sometimes 13 of us, sometimes less, and sometimes just me and Riley, my roommate, I am constantly consumed by joy and laughter. Not all of us have quite mastered the art of ordering (thinking you ordered french fries and getting a baked potato instead to name just one instance), but this time at the end of the day fills my heart, and my belly.
I have truly fallen in love with Granada already. Hiking the Los Cahorros trail was probably the most beautiful place I have ever seen, but to me, taking a post-siesta walk with Riley through the Albayzin while we make our best attempt at speaking Spanish to each other, stopping in shops to look at wine, sweets and olive oil, is just as beautiful.