Bitter Oranges

The Old Jewish Quarter in Granada, Spain, is full of wonderful murals. I saw dozens of them today on a walking tour with Hadrian, who has devoted the past ten years to the city’s street art. But I want to talk about orange trees. I chose a photo of a mural honoring Syrian refugees because it shows an orange tree. Orange trees line the streets of Granada and many other Andalusian cities. At this time of year, they are full of bright, heavy fruit. The original trees were brought here by either the Romans or the Muslims, depending on who you ask, and modern Spaniards love them. But, they tell you, don’t eat the oranges! They are very bitter! They will make you sick!

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The Alhambra. Incredible but Sheesh.

The Alhambra is one of the most beautiful historic places I’ve ever visited. Overlooking the city of Granada, the site is 26 acres of gardens, fountains, and castles originally built by Muslim rulers and later adapted to suit Spanish kings. Although the site is beautifully restored and maintained, I never felt a sense of peace or mystery there. Visitors used to complain about “gypsies” hustling them outside the complex. Today, they can complain about employees hustling them inside the complex. I had to show my ticket and passport 6 times in an hour and fend off mansplaining tour guides. Visitors are required to walk along a roped off, pre-established route where you just know hidden cameras are watching. I left feeling like I’d misbehaved.

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The Chicken Bus to Granada

Granada’s iconic cathedral

This past year, I have been traveling a little more like a normal tourist than I did when I set out on my travels three years ago. Back then, I made a point to use the transportation used by locals, eat at the night markets and food stalls, and visit every kind of neighborhood. I was reminded of this in Managua when my taxi driver took me to the bus station instead of the meeting place for the tourist shuttle. Continue reading