Estoy Enferma en Granada

From Barcelona Sans I caught a night train to Granada. Saying goodbye to everyone was easy because my head was focused on not missing my train, but once I loaded my backpack and pulled back the train bed sheets – I realized I was alone. Three other girls later joined me in the train berth 55 but the company of strangers isn’t an air of comfort like the company of friends. As the train lunged forward and I sat in the uncomfortable silence of strangers it finally struck home that I would be existing in discomfort for the next month and a half. A bit excited, a bit terrified, I was on my way.

After the disaster with the Girona/Barcelona flight, I have very little belief of self efficacy with directions and general navigating abilities. For the journey to my hostel, I asked people every step along the way – only to realize that everyone had something different to suggestion. I finally just followed the map, and MADE IT NO PROBLEM. This was a navigating victory that my self confidence desperately needed. I also enjoyed speaking Spanish – which to my surprise I was able to quite effectively. Three years and a summer in Barcelona equiped me with language skills, but my abilities are just a taste of what actually communicating in spanish entails. There is a sweetness of speaking a foreign tongue, and I might just try to study spanish again to continue savoring the language – why did I stop studying Spanish?

In Granada during my two days I enjoyed visiting the Alhambra and getting miserably lost in the moorish quarters. It was an old defense strategy to make the town difficult for foreign invaders to navigate- and I must say that the city planners did a fantastic job at that. I also visited all the free cathedrals, explored the jewish quarter, enjoyed some sun in a public garden and visited the St. Augustin market and left with my backpack filled with fruit. See photos of the beautiful Alhambra and other snapshots of Granada HERE.

The Alhambra

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I went exploring and got miserably lost and found an apartment rental office to go ask for directions. Behind the desk was a guy about my age working who then offered to give me a tour of the apartments gardens, where I saw possibly the best view of the Alhambra in town:

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I naively thought that the tour was just out of kindness then he gave me his business card and asked me to dinner. I didn’t end up calling him that night but his invitation was the first of many for the summer – you become very easily approachable when traveling solo. This comes as a huge blessing and opens up many great opportunities to meet people, but is also something that all female travelers need to keep their wits about.

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On the night of my second day I went on a walking tour with the hostel where we hiked up a mountain to see Roma (gypsy) homes. Please read my post about “Gypsy” Europe to gain a better understanding of the culture, political correctness regarding the Roma as well as some safety precautions that all travelers should keep in mind.

People live in caves and come from all over the world. This is my one and only photo from the hike through the “gypsy” village because I didn’t want to be rude photographing people’s homes, but I hope that it gives an idea of the conditions of the houses and general quality on life that we walked through and that people and even full communities live in:

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View from the top of the mountain:

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After the tour, Oladai, a boy from Jordan, and I decided to go to a flamenco show. The hostel recommended a place that was very cheap, and we headed off to the venue which translates to “The Andalucian Dog.” Inside, we squeezed into what appeared to be a wine cellar and sat on stools with the rest of the audience. Everyone was young and speaking spanish – so it seemed like we were in a legitimate venue for flamenco. There is a large gypsy quarter in Granada that has been there for hundreds of years and is considered the “heart” of flamenco – and the show we saw reflected the passion and talent Granada has for flamenco.

The plan was to go out after the flamenco show…but I did not feel up to it. Instead Oladai and I went to a viewpoint to see the Alhambra at night and headed back to the hostel. I thought I was hungry as I went to sleep, but when I woke up in the morning I had stomach pain that indicated something way worse than hunger.

I was on the second bunk and I lunged from my bed, hit the floor and started running to the bathroom. I made it halfway there, and instead vomited into a trashcan in the middle of the courtyard. It was 6am so I was the only one around, but I’m sure I must’ve woken someone up with the awful, deep stomach sounds of vomit.

I could tell that I was in for a very, very long day. At 11:45am I was supposed to catch a train to meet up with my friend Peter in Sevilla. At 11:45am I instead found myself passed out in a hammock with a trashbin nearby.

I’d like to say the hostel did a good job taking care of me – this is not true. Oladai found me in the hammock and made me tea, another girl offered to get me water, and another friend came to sit on the hammock next to me to keep me company but he quickly disappeared after I started vomiting again. Three staff members were at the hostel, and they were more concerned with me moving out of the room by noon than with me feeling alright.

I asked for a private room – one hostel worker said he’d check but I watched him head back to the bar instead. When I was moving out I had to carry a trashbin with me and my big pack by myself down the stairs in the hot afternoon Southern Spanish sun. I took refuge under the stairs in a small nook – dragging my trashbin, backpack and mal cuerpo under the stairs. Even through the miserable illness, I laughed at how I was like a “sick monster” hiding under the stairs. I was barely visible to anyone in the courtyard, but I’m sure my monstrous noises were very audible.

I finally got fed up of being sick and I went up to the counter and demanded that they find me a private room. It was about 5pm at this point and my illness was relentless – I was not going to make it to Sevilla that night as planned. Turns out, there was a private room open in the same hostel. I got incredibly bossy and in Spanish said “I will go upstairs now, give me the keys. You will bring up my backpack and bring me a water bottle.” There was no por favor in the demand.

Up in the private room, the cleaning lady came in to make the bed. She was friendly and seemed motherly, and honestly that’s exactly what I needed. I asked her if she needed help cleaning, and she told me to sit down and relax. We then got to chatting about how I was sick and I said that I wanted my mother. This got her going – she went and got me a tea, brought in extra pillows and ended up laying down with me in bed, talking in Spanish the whole time to comfort me.

It was exhausting to keep up the conversation in Spanish with her, but having someone care enough to lay down in bed with me was a huge blessing and I could not be more thankful for this crazy cleaning lady. Translation errors aside, I am nearly positive that she talked to me about how difficult it is for her to have a husband in Spain and another husband in Ukraine. She was the most bizarre and most perfect medicine at that moment for me.

Falling in and out of a feverish sleep, I was able to enjoy watching the sunset from my window over the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I’m now on a train heading to Sevilla, it has been about 30 hours since I’ve eaten anything but I am feeling much better and am hoping that this will be the only illness I face for the rest of the trip!

I’m happy that this challenge arose early in my traveling adventure. If I can make it through puking under a stairway for hours, then I can make it through just about any challenge this trip has in store.

Posted on by Reagan J Payne in Part II, Uncategorized

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