Blending In With the Locals in Southern Spain

They are burning the fields throughout southern Spain today

and the horizon is dotted with plumes of white and brown smoke that trails up and tracks across the sky, dragged by the high blowing winds. We worry about the controlled burning, hoping that they are in fact in control. Our terrain is carpeted with miles and miles of olive groves; some are planted and climbing up the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. Faraway dots of green on vast white fields and mountains are all we can see on the horizon. The heat makes the vistas shimmer. It is very different from the last couple of drives that we have been doing.

Two hours into our journey we start to see the Sierra Nevada, and find ourselves in the same bumper to bumper that greeted us in Madrid: summer is the time to do major road construction! We are certainly feeling no joy here. It wouldn’t be any different at home, we decide. Granada at first glance is an ugly city and is one of the major tourist attractions in Spain, with the Alhambra being the main drawing card. Our Ibis hotel is about a ten-minute bus ride outside of the Centro and again we are glad for the clean, neat rooms and helpful staff. Unpacking is quick and we cross the street to the local mall to do some basic catch up shopping. 4 o’clock has us completely involved in siesta and around 8 p.m. we grab the local bus and ride into town to have some dinner.

Blending In With the Locals and Feeling Their Joy.

We jump off the bus and are immediately enveloped in a throng of people. September the 15th marks the Granada Basilica’s annual flower celebration, raising money for the restoration of the Basilica; because it is one of the more popular churches of the city, it is very busy. The line-up to deliver your own personal bouquet and best wishes to the Basilica is literally around the block and we are amazed at the beauty of the wall of flowers that is beginning to take shape. We also understand that this is the time of year when the parishioners parade Our Lady, adorned with flowers, through the street, although this does not happen tonight.

Everyone is out enjoying the warm (28 degrees or so), early fall evening. We see young and old, the old in their finery, the young with their jeans and mobile phones, waiting in line to deliver their gift. Afterwards, everyone lingers chats and catches up on gossip, about boyfriends and girlfriends both old and new, and what Mrs So-and-so is doing tonight.

It is how we hoped to travel in these lands, being part of a special moment, blending in with the local crowd and feeling their joy.

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