Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gypsies, cumple Fernando

The most interesting people I have found in Granada are hands down the gypsies. After an afternoon of outdoor hookah bars and cervezas, Anna, Em and I found ourselves up in the Sacramonte in a very different world. The cave is built into the side of the mountain, just off a main street that leads into the hills. The walls are painted white, and once inside it feels just like a cozy little bar. There is in fact a bar, although it serves almost exclusively one type of rum, a Granada specialty...and tastes like juice...uh oh. As we moved farther into the cave we entered into an intimate circle of...friends? family? A very strange, lighthearted, temporary family. There were about 6 men of varying ages and two other woman, all of whom were delighted to have us join their circle. The music, Flamenco, was simply astounding. There were two older men and one younger who took turns on the guitar, while the whole room sang and kept beat with their Flamenco clapping (I was able to clap on and off beat without ruining the entire procession only after several lessons from the man next to me).
We sat there into the early morning. I could not wipe the smile off my face. There is something about live music that is so inspiring to me, but this was even better. Everyone in this little circle had a role to play. I am positive ours was for entertainment purposes only (I had to repeatedly explain how they really DID NOT want me to dance...This was not a hopeless place, no need for Rihanna). The woman across the room kept smiling at me with such kindness and amusement that I was sure she was not offended by my godawful rhythm and occasionally off-pitch voice. The man with long silver hair and enormous, crazy eyes was clearly the alpha Flamenco musician, although he never played.
The large, goofy gypsy next me leaned over and asked me if Anna was "una niña o una mujer." Too funny. I'm sure we all looked like giddy little children.
As we were leaving the man who had been teaching me the art of clapping told us that we are always welcome and it had been a pleasure having us. Then one of the more gypsy of the gypsies took me by the arm and told me he would walk us he was going to be my gypsy boyfriend. Really I think he just wanted my sweater. Honestly if he had asked nicely I probably would have given it to him. Needless to say we skedaddled.

Yesterday was Fernando's birthday. We had a barbecue on the roof with more carne than anyone should ever eat. I can't even begin to explain my fondness for the old nutcase. Auxi, with no family relation, has been taking care of him ever since he had a heart attack and aneurysm last year. His family, unable to deal with him, wiped their hands clean and have not been in contact with him since. He speaks only in mumbles and a strange sign language that only he knows. He has to be dressed, fed, and put to bed quite like a child. The guy cracks me up and I willingly spend an hour here or there watching soccer on the tv and pretending to understand his spanish mumbles. We have created our own system of communication consisting of winks and eyebrows and shrugs. I think he is thrilled to have someone new in the house and when Auxi and Enrique aren't looking he will open one eye and do a little dance for me or point to the photos of himself as a young man playing soccer. In many ways he reminds me of myself as a little girl in the hospital, speaking only in "susiposio" language and leaping out of wheel chairs for a better look at the polar bears at the zoo. I can see that there is more to him than a fragile and cranky old man and it is sad to know that nobody has the time or energy to recognize that. It also makes me feel like a very terrible granddaughter to my Yiayia. I will be very sad to leave him next week. Sometimes he mixes his yogurt with his ginger ale and cigarettes and offers it to me.

Sitting in my favorite café right now. On my third expresso and eating scrambled eggs with avocado and cheese on toast. yummm. If I ever have the good fortune of owning two homes...I think one of them will be here in Granada. Above a chocolate covered churros cafe.

Anna and I are considering an apartment in the Portsmouth/Kittery/Portland area for the next year while we figure out our next steps...that is if I have any money when I get home. Keep your eyes open for us please!

"el hecho que haya una vida y ésta sea tan corta hace que las cosas multipliquen su valor" -my sugar packet this morning

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