Sheryl's birthday; Lost luggage found; the Alhambra; Dried fish is not just for sailors anymore

Sheryl’s birthday started with a crisis. Just after breakfast we were gathering our things, and her bag had gone missing - with wallet, camera, and everything. All she could think was that she’d left it at the bar the night before. We were all set to tear out of the hostel on a probably completely fruitless search when she spotted its strap behind the hostel office door. Much relief ensued. It’s bound to happen to one of us for real eventually, but please, not yet, okay?

Today we’d planned to visit the Alhambra, a 1500-year-old palace complex known as the flower of Moorish architecture. It was a bit of a hike up to the top of the hill overlooking the city, but worth every step, once we finally got in and fought our way past the tourist hordes. It was stunning. Huge and still airy and light-seeming, it’s constructed of red and pale cream stone, and every flat surface is covered with carvings and tiles. I don’t share Sheryl’s love of excessive ornamentation, but even I was dumbstruck by the sheer scale of the enterprise. Centuries of Moorish kings, high civil servants and slaves lived out lives of refined elegance within its walls and gardens, some of them probably never setting foot outside its bounds. I could almost see them as I wandered about, gliding serene and ascetic through the pillared hallways and across the courtyards wavering with heat under the hammer of the sun.

The gardens were a marvel too. In other lands and climates they might have seemed parched, but here they’re positively lush, with a hedge maze and roses - an impressive achievement here, where I’ve seen nothing greener than palm trees, and even those are dry and unhappy, giving way to the cacti and succulents.

The day passed in the blink of an eye and we found ourselves wandering dazed back to the town in the early evening, skulls baked empty by the sun. Since it was Sheryl’s birthday I thought it would be nice to have a good dinner at a nice restaurant, as we would have done at home. After searching the streets for an hour, though, we were forced to conclude that Grenada has no nice restaurants and out of desperation settled on one of the tourist patios in a plaza. I knew it would be stupidly expensive, but birthday dinners are special, damn it. When the food came I nearly died laughing, though - the swordfish I’d ordered was dried. That’s right - an expensive restaurant serving rehydrated dried fish and french fries at €13 a dish. In between laughter I tried to stop Sheryl sending it back, because sending food back is just not how I was raised - what with all the starving children in China. Secretly I was grateful she did, though - the dorada that came to replace it was fresh and much nicer.

A quick single drink on a patio afterward - quick because all the bars were closing, it being Sunday - where we drank to Nicola breaking her chains and to Tajé’s new kid Makayla, and always, always, to the absence of snow.


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2 Comments on this Dispatch:

June 19th, 2008

chris, im so pleased to see both your site and sheryl’s up and running on a PC. which means, i dont have to wait untill i get home to look at the pictures.

keep the updates coming, can’t wait to see what other kinds of trouble you two will get in. good luck and have fun!

¬ suzanne
June 20th, 2008

Thanks! Wish I could have been there to clink glasses with you!

¬ Nicola
Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
This travelogue comprises 16,426 photographs and 402,515 words in 307 dispatches written from 335 places in 52 countries on 6 continents around the world.
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