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Al Andar in Andalucia June 5, 2009

Posted by tracybarnett in Spain.
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GRANADA, Andalucia, Spain – If I lived in the south of Spain, I would be a painter, or a poet, or both.

The beauty here is as warm and as casual as a kiss on the cheek; the simple tiled-roof house in a field of olive trees, the arched portico of a patio filled with the scent of jasmine, the snow-capped backdrop of the Alpujarras. No surprise that this is the land that produced a Picasso and a Garcia Lorca.


It’s all flying by like a blur from the window of the high-speed AVE trains; the rolling hills planted with feathery asparagus, golden wheat, bright sunflowers and, of course, rows upon rows of olive trees. My time here is so brief, my job is to savor every moment and not to forget a detail.

Right now, in this tiny tile-roofed train station, I am savoring fresh-squeezed zumo de naranja, orange juice, with cappucino and a croissant. Last night I shared a savory paella with a family from Scottsdale, Arizona, whom I met at the train station. Yesterday afternoon I caught a bus that wound through the woods and up the foothills to the Alhambra, which took my breath away with its maze of arches and columns, its intricate carvings and its lush gardens and fountains. The day before, I was in the walled city of Cordoba, the ancient capital of Andalucia, wandering in awe through the vast colonnaded halls of the Mezquita and dining on red wine and tapas. And later today, I will finally meet my long-lost cousin in Sevilla.

This is the Arabic heart of Europe, the place where Muslim, Jew and Christian lived side by side in peace for centuries, producing a Golden Age of science, medicine, art and poetry. Cordoba was by far the largest and most technologically and culturally advanced city on the continent during its peak. 

Water is a recurring theme in this arid land; the Moors utilized an extensive and sophisticated irrigation network to bring agriculture to these lands, and they placed fountains and gardens everywhere. Every time I see a fountain, I am reminded of my friend Ibtisam Barakat’s A Poem Made of Water, which is so beautiful it made me cry.

Looking through Ibtisam’s eyes, I see Arabia everywhere. The Arab scholars and artisans and architects who planned these cities were all driven out along with the Jews during the Spanish Inquisition, but their spirit and their heritage live on: in the language, the architecture, the music and even the blood of the people, whose faces reflect their Moorish ancestry.

This blog entry is dedicated to Ibtisam Barakat, con mucho cariño. Photos by Tracy L. Barnett.