Tag Archives: Spain

Boots of Spanish leather

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We landed on Spanish soil and I was home. The generous splashes of color on every building façade, balcony and alcove; the garlands of artificial flowers, decorating every nook and cranny; the cobble-stoned pathways; it was like a rainbow had exploded over everything. There was unrestrained emotion everywhere, whether it was the troubadours laying their heart on the line or the artiste selling his soul on paper. One sketch magician proposed to me right there and I was dumbstruck. “I would want someone as colorful as you in my life” were his words.

We Pakistanis, as a nation, have passive aggressiveness down to an art form, any open displays of love and individuality are frowned upon, so it’s fair to say I felt these Spaniards were my people. Open, free, happy, colorful.

There was the Flamenco dance we attended at this local restaurant. I had a vague concept of what Flamenco was; a lot of stomping of leather shoes and musical clappers, but I was slightly taken aback by the sheer display of aggression and nonchalance. The feminist in me rejoiced to see this beautiful woman with her game face on, letting her man know he will rue the day he walked out on her. Though he is breaking her heart he will never break her spirit!

There was the Cathedral of Cordoba; formerly the mosque of Cordoba, so many eons ago, when Muslims ruled over Spain, torn down and rebuilt as a church; part of the mosque was saved for posterity. This Cathedral is now a testament to the grandeur and decadence of both styles of architecture. The stark difference between the two styles hits you quite violently, where one is all about gilded opulence and gorgeous sculptures, the other uses organic curves, spherical shapes and scripture as an art form.

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What struck me most was how the same situation can affect people in such different ways; we were a group of about 40 people, roughly divided down the middle in to two generations, the old and the new, people in their late 20’s and 30’s and our parents. Faced with the Cathedral, the oldies spent most of their time bawling over the lost glory of the Muslims while the younger generation saw hope of coexistence, peace and love. If we respect each other’s differences we CAN all get along.  As I wiped a tear from my eye it was a proud moment for me. There is hope for this generation yet.

There was the visit to La Cartuja, a monastery on a river island near Seville, where DNA verified remains of Christopher Columbus were buried. There are parts of Columbus buried at four different locations in four different countries, each guarding its precious bit with its life. Even though most of us now know Columbus was kind of an asshole and a bumbling idiot. He discovered the wrong place, died thinking he’d discovered some place totally different. Raped and plundered the land he landed on. Brought back Syphilis to his country and thousands of people died of it as a result. History is indeed written by the victors, or severely uninformed friends of the victors.

Also, the “Earth is flat” theory had been debunked by Pythagoras 2,000 years before Spain even came into existence, so it’s safe to say this was not the reason he had a hard time procuring funds for his expedition. It was more because he knew shit all about navigation and had severely under estimated the distance he had to travel to get to Asia, which is why he ended up in America.

Once he got back his own crew testified against him for the atrocities he inflicted on them, but money talks, or in this case, spices do, as the justice system failed us once again and he was sentenced to 6 weeks in jail. Because 6 weeks is the prescribed time period for curing tyranny.

To my utter horror, people in my group wanted to take in a little bit of light animal cruelty in the form of Bull fighting. How is tormenting any poor creature ‘entertainment’?? They actually kill the bull in the end as a form of ‘mercy’ because the wounds would probably do it in anyway. The bloody scene from Hemingway’s “for whom the bell tolls’ immediately sprung to mind and I put my foot down. This was some serious bull shit, but at the rate they’re going there won’t be for long, when they kill all the bulls!

I left Spain with a heavy heart and a very light pocket. The ten odd days spent there are some of the favorite days in my life. I hope I visit again some day

Free Bird – Lynrd Skynrd

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Every few months I start to get fed up of the way things are and the people I hang out with. This is not an inherent fault of the people or the place, mind you, just my fear of monotony and everything commonplace. Some call it wanderlust; an urge to pack up and take off and discover something new, what those SOME fail to tell you is that wanderlust is a pretty expensive habit. Road trips are great on paper, but with someone as accustomed to certain luxuries – daily showers, a bug-free bed and such – as I am, travel costs money.

I earn, and though I’m not rich by any definition of the word, saving would not be a problem if I could, you know, save!

The Navy League trip was a Godsend. it saved me the hassle of having to plan anything, because that seems like the most tedious bit. Though, Navy League’s excursions may not be as wild and out of the ordinary as a free spirit like me would have liked, the pros out weighed the cons.

it wasn’t the “Burning Man’ (I will attend “Burning Man” and the “Comic-con” if it kills me!), it was a wonderful experience none the less.

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Some of the things I wish I’d known before I’d started:

1) The secret to excellent time management is to be the second last person down / out. A good rule of thumb is be tennish minutes late to the absolute final time the tour guide gives you.

2) Be an expert shopper . Browsing is not an option. You want this shit? You fucking buy it! Don’t dilly dally, everyone hates dilly dalliers.

3) Befriend an older person. You’ll be able to get away with a lot of shenanigans that way. (Durdana aunty, we love you!)

4) Invest in sunscreen. Even if the tour guide tells you there’s like ten inches of snow there. The sun is not your friend and will burn you to a crisp.

5) Older people maybe generally annoying, but don’t be miss. judgey judge and give them a chance. They are a reservoir of excellent war stories (my favortie kind!) take the time to listen. one of the members was an actual POW during the ’71 war.

6) Hit on that tour guide if he’s hot, hit on him with complete impunity. When else will you ever get that chance? So what if he has a gf or a wife??

7) learn to take pictures that aren’t so blurry

8) if that broke artist proposes to you, you jump on that shit! as long as you don’t starve, it’s a good deal. You’ll be a muse!

9) people with wives are strictly off-limits. Get your daddy issues under control!

10) All the Renaissance artists thought Jesus was a fucking ugly baby!

11) Once you’ve tasted European coffee you’ll become one of those obnoxious, pretentious gits that people avoid

12) People have a weird habit of praying in places they aren’t allowed. Hell, yeah! rebels for life!

13) No matter how ‘open-minded’ you think you are, you will never like the cuisine of another country. Stop lying to yourself, embrace your inner desi and add a little ‘mirchi’ to everything

14) I’m a hippie at heart and I like colorful, psychedelic buildings, bright awnings, pastry-like exteriors that you want to take a bite out of. Look at this shit! Even their graffiti is a work of art.

15) I did say a little prayer in all the churches and cathedrals we visited, just as I do when we visit a mosque or I would if we visit a synagogue. I believe God is everywhere and we are all one. Okay, end of hippie rant

I hope I get to see every country in the world and meet lots of unique people. Life is excellent.

Much love,

Nyda