We were not done with Maria Dos, not yet. The next morning, we headed back to El Alhambra to see Generalife (pronounced Jen-er-al-E-fay), the gardens surrounding the palaces. This time, I was in Maria Uno’s group, but I did have some Maria Dos quotes related to me afterwards. And here they are (again, with the Spanish accent):
“Do you know where we are? We are in…the Alhambra. In the gardens, there are many things…things which you probably also have at home. In the garden, there are many…plants.”
“There are two types of plants in…the Alhambra. There are the plants that you cannot eat, and the plants that you can eat. This type of plant…you cannot eat.”
“In the Alhambra, we have the Cyprus trees. There are two types of…Cyprus trees. There are the live ones, and there are…the dead ones. This one is a live one.” [points to green tree]
All the Maria Dos quotes aside, the garden was really quite beautiful and well put together. I learned that the fountains are completely mechanical; the water pressure is created via a series of increasingly smaller pipes. The topiary and mazes were well manicured, and the view of the palaces we had seen the night before was wonderful.
El Alhambra is situated on top of a mountain overlooking Granada. After the garden walk, our tour bus took us about halfway down, and we walked the rest of the way, steadily making our way to the center of the town. The cobblestone streets, street musicians, and market were quite different from what we had seen in Madrid, and even Toledo. Our tour guide (sadly, not Maria Dos) informed us that the Muslim influence in Granada had shaped the town so that there was a strong separation between public and private areas. One of my friends, a violinist, violist, pianist, drummer, and singer stopped to give money to every one of the street musicians because he likes to support them. I thought that was nice.
Our expenditures were not limited to street musicians. We were given some free time to go shopping, and by the end of our time we had amassed paella spices, green tea, gunpowder tea, and some cool black pants. I also consumed some coffee-flavored gelato.
We went back to the hotel for lunch, and had leisure time before the concert that evening. We were in charge of providing ourselves with dinner, so I went over to the supermarket across the street to get some food for later. I found some other people who had gone over earlier, and seeing as there was a lack of actually, pre-prepared food, we decided that we would have to walk down every single aisle, choose the foods that we would be willing to eat, and then choose the best of the bunch. Some of the more interesting food we saw were fully cooked octopus and squid tentacles, enormous eclairs, and Pringooooaals! (World Cup themed Pringles). At the end of it, they ended up with a bag of mini baguettes, some cured meat (of course, it’s Spain), ice cream, and candy. I just went with the mini baguettes and a 140 mL container of Nutella.
The concert was held in Motril, about an hour-long drive from our hotel. To pass the time, one of my friends did an excellent Maria Dos impression. We arrived a bit early, so we changed into our concert attire before eating. The changing rooms we were given were extremely tiny and gave us a perfect view of the second floor of the house next door. We managed to struggle into our costumes, and then ate dinner in the courtyard across the street. Some of the locals, mostly those with children, took pictures with the “princesses” and the a cappella groups rehearsed.
I have to say that the concert was a great improvement from the last one. From this concert forward, the Madrigals group was really tight, and the concert choir had fewer of the small hiccups that plagued the first concert. Still, I had two minor complaints. First, the hall was incredibly hot. I felt like I was swimming in my tuxedo. Second, we sang an arrangement of Let It Go a cappella. Looking back, I think I would have chosen to sing Let It Go, if only because for a few kids, it made their night that much better. In the moment, however, the song felt extremely thin without the piano pounding out the chord progressions.
Enough kvetching. Once the concert ended, we changed back into street clothes and there was a very light drizzle which cooled us off. On the bus ride back, I got to know one of the rising juniors, which was nice. Back at the hotel, I met up with some other people for a tea party. It seems that they had the same idea as my roommate and I, so we decided to combine the groups. They had bought some expensive teas earlier, but we ended up using the tea supplied by the hotel. In the spirit of a true tea party, I brought over my leftover bread and Nutella, and my roommate supplied his leftover sandwich bread.
I’ve never been the most socially active teenager, and as we trade stories about adventures, parties, relationships, and conflict, I was struck by how many of the stereotypical teenage tropes actually exist in high school. I’ve been fortunate(?) to be insulated from a lot of it. I got a lot of stories from that night, and I hope to transcribe them after this journal is completed. Later that night, there were some people protesting at the train station and the authorities fired some kind of firearm (blanks, of course). In the interest of getting some sleep before the next bus ride, I returned to my room, and went to sleep, the shouts of the protestors still faintly audible.
Next: We travel to Valencia!