Strangers, All

This is a series of posts about Italy, Malta, and Spain that starts here.

The trolley ride was worth the agro of finding the tickets and figuring out how to get on the damn thing.  As I’ve written, many of the streets of Granada are no wider than one lane.  The trolley was narrow, but it came within inches of grinding against the stone walls on either side.  Granada is also very hilly.  At one point we were going downhill and it felt like the brakes weren’t engaging.  Everyone cried out in alarm.  I think there may have been an old woman with a basket of kittens crossing in front of us.  At the last minute the trolley lurched to a stop and we all laughed nervously in relief.

Lynn and I wanted to find a fast, cheap lunch place.  We came upon a hole-in-the-wall Syrian restaurant that didn’t serve alcohol but that was okay.  The place was maybe 12 by 12 feet, had four tables, and was decorated with rugs depicting scenes from Syria, presumably. It was run by a man and wife; she was the cook and he ran the front of the house, such as it was.  He spoke some English and was able to tell us he had come from Syria two years before.

The door opened and a little girl waltzed in, as little kids do, twirling and fidgeting and humming.  Her father gave her a very long hug; I wondered if that was his usual style or if he fiercely appreciated being safe in Spain with his family.  Was this all of his family?  He went in back and came out with a giant present for her—a puppet set.  She sat near us and I spoke Spanish with her.  She was five years old and no, it wasn’t her birthday; the present was from her aunt and uncle who lived far away.

Our host brought our food.  After my two-week trip to the Middle East the year before, I had sworn I would never eat hummus again.  But it was great to have something different—hummus, falafel, baba ganoush, a simple salad with vinegar, and olives and pita bread.

Other customers filtered in and I heard an American accent.  It turned out that one of the guys at the table next to ours was a Syrian-American from Chicago visiting cousins in Granada.

I asked where the toilet was, and the owner pointed behind me.  What?  I stood up and turned around, then parted two rugs hanging from the ceiling to reveal a dilapidated door that didn’t lock.  Now, “toilet” in Spain and most other places in the world means what most Americans call the “bathroom.”  The bath “room” was smaller than a broom closet and the actual toilet was not bolted to the floor so it made a loud thunking noise when I sat down.  It was awkward, and I just had to do what I had to do even though probably everyone in the restaurant could hear it.  Where was the loud music when you needed it?

Lynn and I went our separate ways for the afternoon.  I visited the Musuem of the Sephardi aka the torture museum, which I wrote about as soon as I returned.

As I write this, the headline on the front page of the Sunday Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper is, “Twin Cities Jewish Community Shaken by Rising Anti-Semitism.”  So while the exhibit was historical, it really wasn’t.

Meanwhile, Lynn had found the tourist office and had asked about the Flamenco shows.  To my relief, she had decided she didn’t need to see one.

We tried another hole-in-the-wall restaurant for dinner.  We ordered a pizza and it was clearly a frozen one that had been microwaved.  So what?  We wolfed it down, and their cheap house red wine was fantastic.

We were the only ones in the place besides a young woman who we guessed was Chinese.  She was frantically trying to get her mobile to work.  I wondered if she was homesick.  We would have been happy to keep her company her if she had ever looked up from her phone.

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