|Date:||September 10, 2000|
|Location:||Granada to Tarifa|
Hotel Macia has an extensive breakfast spread, for a Spanish hotel. Hard boiled eggs, rolls, fruit, cereals (nothing whole-grain, though), whole fruit, danish, several varieties of factory pastries - all too sweet (or just sweet-looking, I didn't try them all!), yogurts (all full fat - I haven't seen fat-free stuff here), cold & hot milk, coffee, tea, cocoa, juice... I try a hot cocoa made with hot milk. It contains food starch, so it turns into a pudding. Interesting. It's reminiscent of the pathetic dessert paste I used to make for myself in grad school. Anyway, it turns out that this is the kind of hot chocolate that you're supposed to eat "churros" with. Churros y chocolate is a popular breakfast in much of Spain. Spanish churros are rather different from the Mexican ones. They are not extruded, nor are they sugared. Instead, they are a fried dough, virtually identical to the Cantonese "fried devils" (yo tza guay) eaten with rice porridge (jook).
Our guide to Alhambra is Margarita. Alhambra was the original city at the center of a large sultanate, from the 11th century (?). Alhambra means "red", because of the stone from which it was constructed. Much of the contents of the city were replaced by reconquistas (for the installation of a neo-roman palace for the new "holy roman empire", or to make a church. Most of the city was destroyed by Napoleon's retreating troops, in a razed-earth policy. A few bits of original Moorish elements remain, and were used by the catholic rulers. Interestingly, a fountain supported by 12 lions was designed and built for the sultan by Jewish artisans, to serve also as a clock. Supposedly, this device spouted water from a different lion's mouth every hour. It is said that the clock's mechanism was destroyed when the christians took it apart to see how it worked.
The gardens at Alhambra and the nearby Generalife are gorgeous, and the views of Granada are great.
By the way, from Alhambra you can also see the troglodyte residences of the Gypsy quarter. The gypsies apparently continue to refuse to integrate with the mainstream culture. During the Inquisition, they became nominally Catholic, so as not to be kicked out. Their children do not attend school; they do not pay taxes; they receive assistance from the government; ... According to the common stereotype, gypsies are generally distrusted and reviled, and assumed to always have criminal intent. Whether true or not, it's a very sad state of affairs.
Lunch is at another truck stop. Brig gets squid roasted w/qarlic & melon con jamon. I get a mixed salad, w/lots of canned asparagus (feh!). And a nice big crisp granny smith apple. We eat it inside the slightly smokey restaurant. Only while Brig visits the restroom do I notice some of our group eating out on a balcony, overlooking the country side. Well, at least I can enjoy my apple out here in the fresh air!
Just south of Malaga, we stop at Torremolinos, a beach resort city on the Costa del Sol. I chicken out, and we just wade into the Mediterranean. The water temperature is just right, and I instantly regret not wearing my bathing suit. Hopefully, tomorrow will be as nice, in Tarifa. Trying to get to the beach, we relearn the value of sandals! That sand is HOTHOTHOT!!! Once you reach wet sand, all is well. Going back, we scoot from one umbrella shadow to the next, until reaching the wooden sidewalk. At the foot-washing area, I'm suddenly presented with a reminder that this is not San Diego, but the Costa del Sol. A lovely young lady finishes cleaning the sand off her feat, and unselfconsciously walks past me, sans mammary encumbrance. I manage to avoid dropping my jaw or doing a double-take. "Well," I say, "that's not something you see every day!" Jack H. says, "You didn't walk far enough up the beach."
As the bus proceeds onward, Santos starts playing some music on the bus' audio system. It starts with a long note sung by a man. It's so long, in fact, that Santos starts banging on the music console, as if to unstick a record (it's a tape). We then learn from Susan that this is a tape of traditional "tuna" singers. Young college men will sometimes spend their summers as tuna singers, dressing in black, and singing these traditional sonqs at restaurants, to finance their travels across Europe.
Dinner is at a place in the old town, on Calle San Francisco. Vino tinto; agua; pan; a wonderful salad with fresh, ripe tomatoes, lettuce, and strong onion slices in a delicious vinagrette; a choice of two soups: I got the "ham", which was undistinguished, and contained rice; Brig got the seafood soup, which was very tasty, but also put Brig off because it, too, contained rice; the main plate was a white fish that was broiled and garlicky and delicious, served with a roasted red bell pepper "salsa". Dessert was canned fruit cocktail!
Afterwards, we hit the street to see the procession of Santa Maria del Luces, a patron saint for Tarifa. Unfortunately, in an attempt to get back to the hotel, we become caught up IN the procession. I felt incredibly uncomfortable, since this was probably an honor reserved for devout church members. And the town is small enough that everyone probably knows who belongs in that category. Oh, well. It's over, and we'll know better next time. I have no photos of the event, since I accidentally exhausted the camera battery!