An Andalusian weekend

Another great weekend in Granada! My parents keep joking with me that every weekend I have here is the best weekend ever. It was jam packed with quintessentially Andalusian activities.

FRIDAY: When I first arrived here, I had mentioned to Carmen that I have been singing my whole life and am part of the Rooke Chapel Choir at Bucknell. Excited, she got me in contact with Iván, a flamenco singer who gives lessons and sings sometimes with her daughter when she dances. On Friday, I finally (barely) mustered up the courage to go to one. I show up and am the only foreigner there – the rest of the class is all locals. It was nerve-racking enough just to speak Spanish in front of them, let alone sing by myself in old Spanish that a lot of people here can’t even understand. He would sing a line of the song and then we would have to go around the circle and each individually sing it back to him. We slowly kept adding lines until finally we had the whole song memorized. It was HARD. Having sung mostly classical music my whole life, I have an extremely straight tone that’s not conducive at all to this kind of music. They all kept making fun of me (all in good humor, of course) saying that I was hands down the best musician there and have almost perfect pitch, but that I sound like a human piano. He said I should stick to singing in church (actually started singing a Catholic hymn and pretending he was praying to imitate what I sounded like), and that this is flamenco – I can’t cheat and use sheet music. I’m not sure whether or not I’m going to continue to take lessons, but it was an awesome experience nevertheless.

Los baños árabes - Arabic baths

Los baños árabes – Arab baths

SATURDAY: On Saturday afternoon, I organized a trip for our group to an Arab bath called Al Hammam, about 5 minutes from my house. Granada was the last city occupied by the Moors until the Catholic Kings (Ferdinand and Isabella) finally reconquered it – for this reason, there is a lot of Arabic influence here (the Alhambra, the Albaicín, téterias – tea shops, hookah bars, etc.). This bath was hands down one of the coolest things that I have ever done. For 25 euro, we got to relax in the indoor baths and steam room, drink tea, and then get a full body massage. What a rough day. I said to one of my friends that all was right with the world and that this was one of the best things to ever happen to me. I was almost on the verge of tears when they told me it was over.

Anyway, we left and went to a cafe and then walked as far up to the Alhambra as they would let us before having to pay. The weather was absolutely beautiful – about 60/65 and sunny in mid-January – and none of us could muster up the discipline to go back and study for our exams on Monday.

First glimpses of the Alhambra! Granada is beautiful

Hiking up to the Alhambra, overlooking the city

 

On Saturday night, I went with a bunch of friends to finally see Bea dance at a local venue! She is absolutely incredible. Her dress was gorgeous (Carmen sews all of them for her!) and the dancing was unbelievable – I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be. Flamenco usually consists of a dancer, a singer, and a guitarist. Carmen suggested that I go up and sing with them. At first, I didn’t understand her, so I did what I usually do – nod, smile, and pretend I know what’s going on. Emily then explained it to me and I almost had a heart attack.

SUNDAY: On Sunday, we capped off the cultural weekend by seeing La Casa de Bernarda Alba by Frederico García Lorca, one of the most important writers to ever come out of Spain, at the main theater in Granada. I didn’t understand a lot of it (except that the daughter hangs herself at the end), but I look forward to reading the work later in the semester in Professor McKinney’s class.

That’s all for now – headed off to London tomorrow, where I’ll be celebrating my 21st!

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